Thursday, March 24, 2005

Nothing to Write About?

Trendy lit-writer Steve Almond has a conglomerate-produced (Harcourt) book out devoted entirely to the subject of eating chocolate.


Anonymous said...

Actually it shows the willingness to devote thought to something else, not covered much. I personally love creative non-fiction.

Once again though you seem to denigrate somethign before knowing the full facts. It seems interesting, and I'll probably pick it up know to judge before hand.

If you can imagine such a manic journey--better yet, if you can imagine being a hungry hitchhiker who's swept through America's forgotten candy meccas: Philadelphia (Peanut Chews), Sioux City (Twin Bing), Nashville (Goo Goo Cluster), Boise (Idaho Spud) and beyond--then Candyfreak: A Journey through the Chocolate Underbelly of America, Steve Almond's impossible-to-put down portrait of regional candy makers and the author's own obsession with all-things sweet, would be your Fodor's guide to this gonzo tour.
With the aptly named Almond (don't even think of bringing up the Almond Joy bit--coconut is Almond's kryptonite), obsession is putting it mildly. Almond loves candy like no other man in America. To wit: the author has "three to seven pounds" of candy in his house at all times. And then there's the Kit Kat Darks incident; Almond has a case of the short-lived confection squirreled away in an undisclosed warehouse. "I had decided to write about candy because I assumed it would be fun and frivolous and distracting," confesses Almond. "It would allow me to reconnect to the single, untarnished pleasure of my childhood. But, of course, there are no untarnished pleasures. That is only something the admen of our time would like us to believe." Almond's bittersweet nostalgia is balanced by a fiercely independent spirit--the same underdog quality on display by the small candy makers whose entire existence (and livelihood) is forever shadowed by the Big Three: Hershey's, Mars, and Nestle.

Almond possesses an original, heartfelt, passionate voice; a writer brave enough to express sheer joy. Early on his tour he becomes entranced with that candy factory staple, the "enrober"--imagine an industrial-size version of the glaze waterfall on the production line at your local Krispy Kreme, but oozing chocolate--dubbing it "the money shot of candy production." And while he writes about candy with the sensibilities of a serious food critic (complimenting his beloved Kit Kat Dark for its "dignified sheen," "puddinglike creaminess," "coffee overtones," and "slightly cloying wafer") words like "nutmeats" and "rack fees" send him into an adolescent twitter.

...the Marathon Bar, which stormed the racks in 1974, enjoyed a meteoric rise, died young, and left a beautiful corpse. The Marathon: a rope of caramel covered in chocolate, not even a solid piece that is, half air holes, an obvious rip-off to anyone who has mastered the basic Piagetian stages, but we couldn't resist the gimmick. And then, as if we weren't bamboozled enough, there was the sleek red package, which included a ruler on the back and thereby affirmed the First Rule of Male Adolescence: If you give a teenage boy a candy bar with a ruler on the back of the package, he will measure his dick
Candyfreak is one of those endearing, quirky titles that defy swift categorization. One of those rare books that you'll want to tear right through, one you won't soon stop talking about. And eager readers beware: It's impossible to flip through ten pages of this sweet little book without reaching for a piece of chocolate. --Brad Thomas Parsons

--The Unabashed Truth

King Wenclas said...

Learn how to read, Too Abashed to Give His Name. My post is in the form of a question. That you call this to "denigrate" shows how unused you are to any kind of criticism and contention in the realm of lit.

Anonymous said...

Nope, KingW, your post was in the form of a declaration. The head was in the form of a question. You weren't trying to diss the Almond Boy? What, you're just giving us updates on his literary output. I don't think so; you hate success.

But why don't you like Almond? Except for the fact that he can get published and you can't? He's no trust-funder. He used to be a low-paid newspaper reporter and now by dint of an amazingly prolific amount of hard work, writing well, and appealing to an audience (people have to want to read what you write, KingW!), he has some books in print.

I love your blog, by the way. I know the story of the scorpion and the frog, so I have sympathy for ya. You can't help it.

Jeff Potter said...

"I personally love creative non-fiction."

Good one!

Book'o'the'day fans unite!

I love it when I read things that "admit" that fiction is in a rough-patch but that, oh my, creative non-fiction is coming on strong!

What an *interesting* period of publishing we live in. The calm before the storm.

Noah Cicero said...

demi-bitches. I see that you've conceded on the Street Vs. Professionals thread. But The ULA point is still there, when are you going to defend yourselves, defend the phony contests, grants, and awards, defend them.
The ULA is attacking and defending at the same time. If this was an actual war, it would be The ULA in a well guarded fort and the demi-puppets in a small muddy rat infested trench. Obviously we would take you down in a matter of minutes. and we have.
To the unbashed, I called NBC, they said they will give the 8:30 spot on Monday.

Anonymous said...

No one's conceded, Noah. We just don't want to make you any crazier in fear that you'd take your frustration out on your dancer girlfriend.

Anonymous said...

noah:demi-bitches. I see that you've conceded on the Street Vs. Professionals thread.

I don't think anyone has conceded, but your own imperious,ribald callow style of debate is soporiferous and pure rhetoric. And if you are thinking of throwing the class issue out again, I am broker than you are, but still prefer to conduct myself more decorously. Not that I am some prude.

King Wenclas said...

?? My post is informative. People can read into it what they want.
Believe me, if I wanted to denigrate Almond, I'd do it.
(Or, when have I been found to be subtle????)

Anonymous said...

Why equivocate, KW, why backpedal? Just more of the ULA trying to slip out of what they've just said as soon as they're challenged? Everyone knows what you meant. Have 'trendy' and 'conglomerate-produced' ever been anything but pejoratives in your screed? Are you suddenly undecided on the effects of conglomerates on publishing? Do you suddenly advocate the latest trends? Are you suggesting that 'Nothing to write about?' wasn't a rhetorical question?

Hypocrites and liars, all.

King Wenclas said...

You're so constipated it's hilarious. Why does my little post bother you so? Don't like the association with "conglomerate"? If it bothers you, then it's what YOU read into the term. Yes, my viewpoint is already known.
Gosh, I didn't know that Steve Almond was a god who can't be touched. Maybe I should sometime read his book and review it. You'd love that!
What we have is a collection of bourgeois-minded folks who are uncomfortable with contention and noise in literary culture, where it's been too quiet for too long.
No, I'm not going to shut up. I may get louder! If you don't like it, better jump out of the lit -world. The ULA exists to shake things up. The day we become moderate like everyone else, absorbed into the "Don't Make Waves" crowd, is the moment this movement is over.

King Wenclas said...

p.s. It's kind of funny, actually, that Mr. Anonymous accuses me of equivocating, lying, etc. I've been up front from the start-- put my name right out there, and still do. I mean here I am! Been speaking my mind full out. Hardly equivocating!

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