Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Living in New York City: Discovering the New York Times Bestseller List

Foto by tgw, New York City, December 2010
The New York Times Bestseller Lists
As a writer...and I do think of myself as a writer...a poet, a songwriter...I toot a mean horn sometimes when I'm know, standing to full two-legged monkey height. The wolf in me keeping me balanced. I can either eat meat or go veggie. I can either read Aristotle or I can read Balzac and Flaubert--which I'm doing now. But....


  1. DEAD OR ALIVE, by Tom Clancy with Grant Blackwood
  2. THE CONFESSION, by John Grisham
  3. CROSS FIRE, by James Patterson
  5. FULL DARK, NO STARS, by Stephen King
Jesus Christ, this writer says to himself as he gazes at the privileged class that gets nearly every one of their books shot to the top of this New York Times famous or infamous bestseller list. I have not looked at a NYTimes bestseller list in at least 20...maybe even 30 years. I say that in a low whisper since I'm here in New York City where the NY Times is the most close-to-the-industrial-gods as a US newspaper ever got--though there were better newspapers all around it--some right in the middle of Manhattan. But the NYTimes, now going broker and broker every year--they are madly desperate at the joint--is the most influential newspaper in the USA certainly.

Just suddenly out of nowhere--as though a direct message from one of my muses--I decided to see just what books and writers were on this blessed divine list of what cultured Americans read, those cultured Americans who read the NYTimes and trust it faithfully--at least every Sunday morning over that Starbucks overroasted coffee--does Starbucks use chicory in their strongest coffees?--I myself still prefer old French Market coffee--a coffee that honestly admits, proudly so in the New Orleans tradition (and I speak of New Orleans in the pre-Katrina state--the state I knew it in and grew to love it and claim it as a second home), it contains chicory. ["Chicory chick, cha-la, cha-la/Check-a-la-rome-y-in-da-banana-ka/Bol-y-ca wal-la-ka/Can't you see, Chicory chick is me."]

I look at the first 5 books in the fiction list. Tom Clancy. John Grisham. James Patterson. Stieg Larsson. Stephen King. Holy shit. I asked myself, is that today's bestseller list? I check to make certain. Tom Clancy. I've never read him, though I certainly know of him. He's been around since eternity hasn't he? John Grisham. I've never read John Grisham, who, too, has been around since eternity hasn't he? [I have been informed that Grisham is an ex-lawyer turned writer who says he had no intentions of being a writer; yet he is a writer--or is he? He hates critics--that's fine with me--as Hemingway said, if a writer hasn't hit it in five years of trying, he should give up writing and become a critic. Somewhere among his writings, he said critics to him smell like the armpits of a prostitute who has just finished a night of multiple fucking.] James Patterson. I know who he is. A detective story writer who does his own teevee commercials--looks like a clever old newspaperman who came up with an attractive detective with eccentric methods--I'm left to wonder what's new about Patterson's same-old-same-old detective? (And Tony Hillerman who I knew in Santa Fe [also the home of the late Donald Hamilton] one time long ago just died last year.) Thank God for murder and the miraculous conclusions to these books. I quit. I read detective novels when I was 18 years old. Then I read Sherlock Holmes--a huge volume my brother gave me for my birthday one year. There was no longer any reason for me to read anymore detective stories. I have a very successful detective story writer in the sister-in-law end of my family--a woman--she's one of the top selling detective writers--but, I humbly admit I've never read one of her books. A friend of mine has and says she's a very good writer. Stieg Larsson. Poor old Stieg. After the poor bastard is dead--dying in obscurity and poverty, his nonwife wife comes along and reveals him to the world in a blitz krieg publicity campaign that propels this poor bastard to the top of the world's bestseller lists [and, yes, I know he didn't leave a will and never married because he didn't want the authorities to come after him]. I'm currently reading and rereading Knut Hamsun. I can't see Stieg writing anything any better than the several masterpieces Knut wove into verbal paintings in his long controversial career (he thought, along with Hitler, that Germans were a superior race). I'll leave Stieg for another day. Sorry, Stieg, old writer buddy, I'll put off reading you until you're less a cult (like I never read Herman Hesse until after he'd pass through being a Hippie cult writer). And last but not least, Stephen King. And I tried to read a Stephen King novel one time. I couldn't get through the first paragraph it was such bad writing--and King, wasn't he a Hollywood writer before he developed his gift of scaring the hell out of superstitious juveniles?

How disappointing is this list of bestselling writers. Clancy, he's a celebrity, with trophy celebrity wives and pals now. No need for him to exceed what he's already achieved. Fuck, all old Clancy has to do now is just write a book, no matter its worth or value--this time teaming up with some guy named Blackwood, a name I associate with an old Southern gospel quartet, the Blackwood Brothers.

Then I thought, dare I check the nonfiction list? I dared.


  1. DECISION POINTS, by George W. Bush
  2. UNBROKEN, by Laura Hillenbrand
  3. EARTH (THE BOOK), by Jon Stewart and others
  4. LIFE, by Keith Richards with James Fox
Oh, God-damn, I'm lighting up a cigar, Mark Twain's on the NY Times bestseller list!--and not for fiction but nonfiction. His autobiography. Would Sam Clemens say this autobiography is nonfiction? The name Mark Twain is fiction. Oh well, at least he's on the list. Is this the first time Twain ever made the NYTimes bestseller list? And look at the great writers he's on the list with. Like who in their stupid right fucked-up minds are shelling out big bucks for G.W. Bush's work of fiction, again, a fiction writer on the nonfiction list. Laura Hillenbrand. I have no idea in Hades who she is. Jon Stewart. I never thought Jon was funny when he was a comedian. If he's funny now, I wouldn't know. I've never watched his teevee show. He's on the right side, but he's a fucking entertainer so he's probably not for real. Keith Richards! Oh, yes, Jesus, I need to know the truth about Keith Richards's lucky fucking life. Ripping off US original and more clever musicians to ride to fame on the backs of the brilliant likes of Chuck Berry, Larry Williams, Aleck Miller, J.B. Lenoir, Jimmy Reed, etc.

How fucking sick are those two bestseller lists? I've already read Twain's autobiography--just because it's Twain's 100th anniversary since he died, I see no reason to reread it. The above edition is probably the work of some college professor who claims superTwain understanding. Mark Twain was too complicated a man for a university professor to figure out.

Sam Clemens said:
A man is never more truthful than when he acknowledges himself a liar.

All generalizations are false, including this one.

All you need is ignorance and confidence and the success is sure.

Civilization is the limitless multiplication of unnecessary necessities.
Today is the day the real Americans, those who vote at least, start getting their way with We the People Sheep. Soon We the People Sheep can look forward to more suspicions beamed at all of us; more and more hi-tech security cameras and spy planes and camera drones and infra-red camera drones aimed at our souls, keeping a moral watch over our every move; less and less benefits from government or job. Less and less jobs here at home. More and more foreclosures and eminent domain land swindlings. More and more Federal Reserve payouts to banks. More and more jobs flying the US coop and heading to Third World countries that are rising to the top of the Great Global Marketplace world of Hot Damn Capitalism...with Communist China today's most successful Capitalist country. And now coming on up onto the industrial-spotlit stage is Brazil. From jungle destroyers and aboriginal Indian genocidists to now fattened up Capitalist pigs--and with a new president--a woman--a woman who at one time was a guerrilla fighter against a brace of corrupt Brazilian dictators--a tough woman who was tortured and raped and ridiculed when she was imprisoned by the ruling authorities at the time. Brazil has everything a country needs, wealth galore, tons and tons of land--Brazil is as big as the US--or nearly so. Huge country--diverse country--some parts of it still unexplored, unraped by man, though as soon as he can, he'll discover it and rape it good. One reason Brazil is Capitalistically on the rise is because it has sold off its land and mineral rights to Chinese and Japanese cattle raisers and grass growers and mining and oil companies.

We can look for more efforts for these lackeys (our House of Reprehensible Monkeys) of our wealthiest rightwingers (i.e., the Koch Brothers) to drive us down to Third World status. I guess in their logic, too many of us are blessed--brazenly lazily and living off the government dole--amassing too secure a future. I mean, how do you keep a people working in the fields until they're in their 80s? You make slaves out of them, that's how. I and others like me have been saying for a long long time now how the whole agenda of these creeps is CHEAP LABOR.

Sam Clemens said something else that makes sense--he said invest in land--why?--because there's no more being made. All of the old elders in my family preached that the only way to success in this pioneer land was through owning land, land, and more land. It was surprising when my parents died (together on the long highway) how many pieces of land they owned--3 pieces of land, 2 with paid-for houses on them, and one a 1-acre corner property that ended up being a key piece of land in a new industrial development. The most money my brother and I got in our inheritance was from the sale of the land and houses. The money I inherited from my parents allowed me to live a good life for seven years--living in Texas, Louisiana, California, Florida, New Mexico, New York City, Mexico City, Victoria, British Columbia...even one time looking to rent space in Letia, Colombia, on the banks of the Amazon. I spent the last of my inheritance moving to New York City and renting a grand apartment on the corner of East 56th Street and Sutton Place--naive enough not to know that was the most expensive neighborhood in New York City. In 1970, my wife and I paid $450-a-month for a one-bedroom apartment in that swank building. Today, and I proudly admit this, my rent is $375-a-month. I have lived in New York City for 41 years now and that $450-a-month is the most rent I ever paid. Fact, not brag. I'm a writer. We know how to take advantage of our locations and circumstances.

for The Daily Growler

Note From Joe Bageant (Just Posted on Joe's Blogsite):

A note from Joe

Dear friends, associates and fellow travelers,

As you may or may not know, I have been struck down by an extremely serious form of cancer. Presently I am back in the United States receiving treatment through the U.S. Veterans Administration hospital system. Due to the nature of the massive internal tumor, I am currently unable to even carry on email correspondence or Skype conversations.

Right now I am at a hospital in Morgantown, West Virginia. Once a treatment program has been designed and set in motion, I will probably be transferred back to the Veterans Administration facility near my home in Winchester, Virginia. The condition is inoperable, but it is hoped that with chemotherapy plus the use of a pain killer such as OxyContin, I will be able to resume my online work.

As soon as I am able to sit up long enough to work online and carry on Skype conversations, I will do so. Until then, please have patience and bear with me in this frustrating and difficult time. Business correspondence and relationships will not be interrupted during this period of recovery because I have several persons willing to work with me through dictation.

Thank all of you very much for your friendship and patience.

-- Joe Bageant

No comments: