Tag Archives: ‘ “American Stutter”

Books

Ennio Morricone and Steve Erickson’s “AMERICAN STUTTER”

In late July, I started reading Steve Erickson’s “AMERICAN STUTTER” and was about 30 pages in when I took a break because I had an overwhelming impulse to hear the soundtrack of “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.” I hadn’t heard it in a couple of years at least, but ever since then I can’t get it out of my head, perhaps because it is the perfect accompaniment for reading Erickson’s diaristic rant.

Erickson’s book apparently couldn’t find a New York-based publisher because the ferocity of its indictment of Trump’s malicious incompetence exceeded the literary propriety that establishment authors are expected to exemplify. If any book deserves to be on a best-sellers list, however, Erickson’s journal of the personal and political during the presidential election of 2020 should not have a problem qualifying. Without belaboring the comparison, Erickson recounts the dissolution of a marriage that managed to survive the trauma of the Great Recession while simultaneously diagnosing the fundamental flaw in our how the system of “representative democrac”: too many people are not willing to compromise their alleged ideals.

The vehemence that Erickson brings to his topic might lead one to think that Erickson overstates his case. Is what passes for “democracy” in the United States in such extravagant peril of succumbing to neo-fascism? For those who would prefer to live in denial, I urge an immediate screening of a classic film by Kurosawa: “The Bad Sleep Well.” Most “classics” are well enough known that one doesn’t have to apply that word to them when a title is mentioned, but in truth I have talked to only one person in the past three months who has already seen the film: Harley Lord, whose first words when I mentioned it were, “I love that film.” And for good reason, too. Few films from sixty years ago are so eerily proleptic of the state of global government right now. Once you watch the film, I’m sure it will not take long to draw a parallel between the film and what happened in Russia the other day. The sixth floor sure is unlucky, eh?

For those who are fans of how Kurosawa makes use of Shakespeare in this films, you are in for an additional treat. “HAMLET” is to “THE BAD SLEEP WELL” what the Scottish play is to “THRONE OF BLOOD.”

Finally, I highly recommend the new, massive account of the Watergate scandal by Garrett M. Graff. Rosemary Woods may be famous for having erased twenty minutes of a tape recording, but did you know her brother Joseph also earns a spot in the sordid downfall of a politician whose paranoia exceeded his considerable ambition.

But first read “AMERICAN STUTTER.” It’s a minor masterpiece that will someday be listed along with “ARMIES OF THE NIGHT” for its acute portrayal of a nation writhing in its self-inflicted contradictions.

Cue the music: “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly….”