mildred pierce zine

Where are they now?
November 30, 2006, 5:17 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Hey. John Bylander here, Mildred Pierce co-editor coming at you from Charlottesville, VA. My first post to the Mildred Pierce blog. I’m gonna try to get a better web presence, seeing as my co-editor Megan Milks set all this up but I haven’t really taken full advantage yet, and since I’ll probably never get a blog of my own for various reasons but because I’m not shy about sharing my opinions, I reckon I might post a few things to the blog and maybe someone will see it. Also, it’d be nice to have some communication with the world in between zines, which seem to take Megan and I a long to time to put out. So anyway, recently:

Read a back issue of NY Times Mag, the New York Issue, with an excerpt from Susan Sontag’s journal. Off the wall. I’ve read very little Sontag, although I’m definitely aware of her presence (the title of the Against Style series in MP references the far past of modern philosophy, but I wouldn’t have used it if I didn’t think it still had some meaning in people’s minds, and better still, that the meaning now had become kindof ironic, because of the way Sontag and others brought it into the post-modern era.) Anyway, totally interesting, and way pompous in parts, but also really great. I love all that 1950s Greenwich Village/downtown shit.

Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee by Dee Brown. It took me so long to read this book. I started it as I moved into my current home, a messy, crazy, medium sized house which currently holds about 10 people and has no rent. Its hard to get a quiet moment in that house, plus people are always breaking the damned reading lamps. I moved in in May and I just finished the book about two weeks ago. And then I quit smoking. Not that the two are necessarily related, but this book will sit you on yr ass. Its powerful. One of the most compelling parts about it is its exposure of the Mid West as, in fact, The Wild West. Bucolic, often dopey stereotypes of the supposed Heartland need serious scrutiny. I mean, the midwest was the site of some seriously SICK SHIT- native american genocide, war, lawlessness, intense greed, union conflict, the rise and fall of american industrial power, anarchist bombings, etc. Is this myth of ho-hum, farmlife, buttermilquetoast, don’tchaknow bobby bumpkins a self-preservation history amnesia thing, like the myth of Southern Hospitality? Or is this just the other side of a reality which is in fact, in a real day to day way, informed by simple, homestyle values, like the actual reality of a lot of Southerners? I’m not anti-midwest or anything–I was born in Cleveland. I just think it’s really interesting that the region that produced Civil War, the automobile industry, house, techno AND (argueably) punk rock is cast as ‘flyover country’ between the important coasts. Lots of blood on that ground, and history, and yes, there are still a bunch of Indians out there. Reminds me of a recent McSweeney’s article called “Places I Refuse to Acknowledge as The Midwest.” Relevant quote: “Wild Bill Hickock was not shot and killed in a poker game in the Midwest,” or somthing like that. Maybe I’ll find that link so ya’ll can read it. Its one of those funny articles you can sometimes find on McSweeneys.

Which takes me to the final part of the post: David Eggers, doin it real big. This guy has pulled kind of an amazing trick on the anti-eggersard haters. You wanna talk about relevance, guys? Am I too flip for you? How about a fictionalized memoir about civil war in Sudan? Based on extensive first hand accounts from this Dinka dude Valentino who lived in a refugee camp for 10 years. How about I give part of the proceeds to that dude and to a bunch of sick NGOs, bro? Does that seem precious to you? Anyway, not that I’m an Eggersard, and not that I was totally sure this guy had something else up his sleeve, but I was pretty sure. I’m glad he did, cuz now maybe this means that all the white male twentysomething writestars might rush out and ask someone who’s been through some REAL SHIT about what life’s about instead of trying to get the next heartbreaking work of staggering genius published. That would be awesome.

Also, speaking of tricks up sleeves,Thomas Pynchon has a new book out. People get ready.