Chekhov/More Money Mix – Franklin Schneider (featuring Uzodinma Okehi)
October 24, 2019
You read author interviews, and when they list books that influenced them, it’s always, The Great Gatsby, Middlemarch, Chekhov, blah, blah, blah. Saying Gatsby is your favorite book is like when a death row inmate gets pizza for his last meal; you had plenty of time to think about this, I know you can do better. They always say, I love how Chekhov has such compassion for the poor. But then the book they just wrote is about a CEO who’s having an affair with their kid’s Montessori teacher. All these books are the same because most writers are ripping off the same five books.
There are types of books I simply will not read. Any book about relationships, or a marriage: Hell no. Any book about a family? Won’t read it. If I was on a cross-country flight, and I forgot my headphones, and the only reading material I had was an award-winning multi-generational family epic, I’d just stare at the back of the seat for four hours. Tolstoy was wrong when he said, all happy families are alike, but every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. That’s not true. All families are alike, and none of them are interesting. I won’t read any books that are described on the book jacket as “lyrical,” or if the word “redemption” is used. If there are flowers or a body of water on the cover? Nah. If the title is in a font that looks like handwriting? Hell no. If it’s described as “hilarious,” just chuck it into the nearest wood chipper. If something’s described as “speculative” fiction, that’s just them trying to trick you into reading sci-fi, and the reason they have to trick you into reading it is because sci-fi is dumb. And they’re always like, no, no, the clones are just a metaphor for social media. So why not just write a book about social media? Although I definitely wouldn’t read any book about social media. Any book where people are on their phones a lot, or you see their text messages in the text of the book and they’re in italics and they use the letter “u” instead of spelling out y-o-u, that’s a book I will definitely not be reading. If characters in the book drink wine and the author tells you the specific year of the wine, or where a character went to college, or the music they’re listening to, I’m just not interested in that book. It might be a fine book. Probably not, but anything’s possible. I’ll never know, because I’m not reading it. And I hope it goes without saying, I don’t read any books about how angels are real.
Zadie Smith. Let’s say. As the super-muscular God figure from that famous ceiling fresco . . . Wait, walk with me on this one. And, got it, here’s my blurb for your new book—“From on high, framed by gods, by demons, Google it, that satin-textured, vaguely brain-shaped cloud. Supported by angels. Reaching out. That’s Zadie Smith, and instead of touching Adam, she’s bestowing the gift of transcendent life on a book, your book, that’s me invoking Zadie Smith, not once but three times, low-low, the lit-gods, and dare I say it, two times, way-low, for more money, maybe. Here are the pull quotes: Shimmering. Wonderful. Crisp and affecting. Strong, with a sweet burn. Astonishingly intelligent. Fearless. Nimble. Surprising. Reminiscent of Tolstoy, Shakespeare, Hemingway. More than a mere book. A series of dazzlingly interwoven plotlines, involving characters, conceived by the human mind, printed on fragrant paper made from pulped trees; devious, reverberating ideas, allowed to resonate, sprawling out to an unimaginable, yet lyrical, yet thrillingly lucrative conclusion . . .
Like 70 words left, ok, let me go in again. Speaking of working in a bookstore. Klinka . . . Deep space and stars. That’s shaking and gliding, and thick, going up to those seventh floor offices, for that glimpse of you just walking back from the vending machine. White-white, no tan, no that’s cool. Galaxy print tights. Your desk by the windows. Behind the computer, bathed in light. And nothing much. But, Klinka, I see you . . .”