Book Review – The Broom of the System, by DFW
My first DFW book, and man, the man was awfully clever, weren’t he? And quite the writer —
Some of my favorite scenes include the trip to Amherst and Lenore’s conversation with her brother LaVache, a genius-wastrel feeding a drug addiction (?too strong?) into his false leg; another memory from the book: a really heartbreaking story told by W.D. Lang about going to visit his grandmother — how they would go to visit her every saturday, except one saturday they couldn’t go, or the next day, so they go on Monday instead, and when they get there, she’s waiting outside on the porch, in the cold, as if it were saturday.
“Why are you waiting outside,” Lang’s father asks. “It’s not Saturday.”
And then they learn that she waits outside everyday — a) on the chance that maybe her family will visit her just because but b) in ignorance of the rules and heuristics the Others use to order their lives.
The book examines the maintenance and disintegration of the self-other dichotomy — while at the same time parodizing that anxiety — it glosses on tongue-talking, religious hysteria, artificial and manufactured experience, continental philosophy, and literature. Examines the anxiety of many of us uberchildren of the 80s and 90s that we are not in control of our own destinies — that we are being pushed and prodded into some sort of upper middle class mold —
I have a Marxist library book that’s overdue. Should I refuse to pay the fine?
Postscript: In an article about Bolano, Bolano sketches the character who only reads great author’s minor works — as if they cannot handle the true greatness. Let’s not become that character. Don’t let Karenina stop you — onwards into the new canon, Jehosaphat.