Time to Settle Accounts
March 21, 2011: A proper education.
It was Friday, and I got a call from Ric, who was coming to the neighborhood for a book signing and wanted to know if I would join him. “It’s Patton Oswalt,” Ric said, “Reckless Records at 3:30,” and I said “Yes” and met him at the DeLorean an hour before. Oswalt is one of Ric’s favorite comics – he is particularly fond of the “Death Bed” bit – and was signing copies of Zombie Spaceship Wasteland, his new book released in January.
We arrived at Reckless a few minutes past three. Customer space at the store is fitted like a backwards L, with the L’s short line at the front door and the counter and stock areas filling out the rest of the rectangular floor plan, and half of the L’s long line (walking space on either side of the long vinyl racks) was already packed with bodies, mostly bearded, bespectacled males with shoulder bags, comic book shirts, dark hair, gawky torsos, or any combination of the above.
With ten minutes to curtain, Ric and I were squeezed in at the S-Z SOUL album rack and the room was filled to the end of the counter, with a light scattering in the VHS – VARIED area. Ric flipped through the soul rack, and then pulled a philosophy book out of his bag and started flipping through that. “What are you reading now?” he asked.
“Just started Paper Lion… George Plimpton… it’s interested me since high school probably. And articles and essays, of course. And then Carrie and I are reading The Great Gatsby before bed, which is lots of fun since we’ve never read it. It’s cool to take a book you’ve never read and read it out loud,” I continued, rambling, “or even a book you have read. But it’s particularly neat when you haven’t…”
Ric was back to the records, scanning the back of an album by a quintet called The Whispers when suddenly he looked up and said: “You haven’t read The Great Gatsby?” And then: “And Carrie hasn’t read it either?”
“It’s surprising that two intelligent, well-read, well-educated people haven’t read The Great Gatsby. Yeah, it is.”
“Well don’t tell me how it ends.”
“Jesus man. You don’t know how it ends? I know how plenty of books end that I haven’t read. I just absorbed ‘em through the culture.”
“True. And I know from The Wire that Gatsby dies. But I don’t know how or why, so hush up.”
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