Mahanthappa brings an explosive blend of jazz and South Indian classical music to the studio.
Can I say how ridiculous the playing is in this interview?
You know it is one of those “Alpha” neighborhoods where people parallel park next to the businesses, where you can eat at an Italian Bistro—or the Subway across the street if you’re obviously not from around here— or get a fake tan next to the nail salon across the way from the jeweler’s right next to (not so much “consequently” as much as “predestined”) the bank where men in pleated pants or khakis walk in and out all day. Despite the love-bug Florida weather, all cars seem to be nearly spotless unless they are utility vehicles or driven by folks in their nineties or driven by you, the outsider. Everyone here presents a dog of some sort: not that these people would be walking the dog, but primping and entertaining the casual idea of owning a pet who shits and sniffs it later or pisses on the kitchen floor and licks it up—whereas a normal person like you knows these things, these people yank their dogs as they sniff curiously at sparse and sometimes emaciated artificial patches of grass here and there.
People look at you oddly as you write on your notepad. You observe. They scratch their goatees and feign preoccupation on their latest Smartphone, tugging uncomfortably at their collars and readjusting the pair of sunglasses perched on the crown of their heads. Women walk by briskly listening to pop chart hits on mp4 players loud enough to deafen children—children who scream as they walk and drop things or trip with futility over their feet and wail with a fully and exaggerated sense of fear that this pain is unrelentingly personal and dark and will last forever. These women have strange, breast-enhancing shirts made for running, copacetic enough to quell the bounce of their strut in designer running shoes from the emporium you know is down the street—you saw on your way in—and know you can’t afford.
The coffee you bought is made with a fancy triple-strainer. You don’t believe this even when you see it. First, the beans are ground and strained with water. Second, the coffee-like liquid collecting below is moved to another strainer after taste and aroma is dissected from the grounds. Finally, a third shift moves the liquid through white, translucent paper to sort out the obvious and residual bitterness of the coffee legion you’ve been so well accustomed to for most of the twenty-two years of your life at four dollars a pop. The thing that occurs to you as you take it for the small price of five dollars is the sort of professionalism and time and care it takes to make something like this, something small and dinky and borderline pathetic in size compared to the large “small” versions of things you are used to drinking. The first sip is the first sip of your generation, of your adulthood coming to fruition. You’ve traveled to a place you know nothing about: a place of finesse and expediency, of utter unconscious localization of those dividing themselves entirely from a world of less-than-fine taste and less gourmet attitude. The taste buds in your mouth become activated for the first time, their space which never before has been touched this way, and you come to terms with the fact that every cup of coffee you have ever tasted up to this point has been burned, incinerated. The gluttonous and completely primal ingestion of sugar that followed became a total disregard for your heart because someone didn’t work hard enough to make the thing you are drinking now taste decent. The taste is bold and authentic. You know it will be hard to repeat this sensation.
Despite the disillusioned circumstances that have brought you here, you feel absolutely in-tune with this bourgeois meta-culture of monetary and uninspired value. The conscious decision to object and be abject to the make-up and pampering of every male and female and dog in this area—despite everything you feel and know to be true—is stopped by your coffee. Much like a love potion, it quells your angry and upset feelings of virtue, subdued entirely by a place casually tattooed and littered with cigarette smoke; the black and onerous taste of your first, no-so-good cup of coffee pasted and dragged across your tongue begins to fade.
Business meetings take place next to your bench and legal pad of paper. Children are carted and shopping bags are swayed from side-to-side at eleven AM despite all reason against it. You felt like an outsider before. Now, you feel no more indifferent than a potted plant as part of the architecture of this niche. This street sighs as cars pass. The intersection reads “New Bounds St.” and “Prospect Circle.” A dog licks your toes as you stare ahead into a woman’s hair. You look at her, bound on the other side of the dog’s leash, and she says, “He must like you.”
Thank you, tumblrfiction, for your support.
Brandon, you’re amazing. Thank you so much for the opportunity to read this delight. Your kindness is the sort that makes me appreciate what a beautiful world we live in, and I’m not sure that there’s anything more important than that.
Expect your book within the week!
Aha! You are very welcome, Rachel. There is only a certain amount of things in my life I am willing to go the extra mile to see other people get to experience, things I think can enrich lives and make them more worthwhile. I am glad to have sent it and more than happy to take part in a book exchange!
Rare photo, makes me smile.
The people who have taught me about jazz have said if I don’t transcribe this, I’m doing myself a disservice. They are absolutely right.
The sad truth is, I don’t know too many animals that wouldn’t have that look on their face to the right if they were between Ryan Gosling’s legs.
This book came with a warning:
This book is extremely graphic.I give you this warning because I wish someone had warned me.
I am glad I received this warning. As far as Post WWII fiction goes, I haven’t read much describing the events that occurred in a fictitious setting.
Kosinski has slowly become one of my favorite writers after having read Steps and The Devil Tree. The Painted Bird was Kosinski’s first novel. If you have a chance, I would read up on the history surrounding the novel’s origins and what happened after it was published and released. There is a ton of discussion on plagiarism, but nonetheless, the book is a great work and strong pull in the world. For the sake of time here, I’m going to say that Kosinski wrote the book, whether that is true or not.
This book in no way attempts to sugar coat the events of WWII nor the people in it. What is looked at through this book very specifically are the lives of those who were either stranded or tried to escape the grip of concentration camps during the period. The novel’s protagonist spends a great deal of time away from his parents who abandon him in hopes that he will be safe. But the things he experiences along the way are graphic and demonic, awful and in some ways probably the worst atrocities one can imagine being acted on one human being from the mind/body of another.
Kosinski writes with a sensitivity and detachment that makes novels known for their gore seem “PG” in a way: I’m talking about things like Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk and American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis. The things I read in this book cannot be unread and I suppose it depicts very clearly the truth of how we can really dehumanize one another to the fullest extent, whether it be in war itself or on the sidelines.
I highly recommend reading this one despite whatever controversy follows it.