Richard Meltzer seems to be allowed to write whatever he wants and get away
with it. Maybe it's just sour grapes on my part, but I wonder if he's gone
too far this time -- again.
Meltzer is irreverent, sometimes to the point of revulsion but often merely
to the point of tittilating amusement. Who cares, really, that he has
fantasies of having sex - no, I mean having actual sex - with his mother?
He does, apparently, and lays out, as it were, the gory details. He also
describes, in an almost but never quite sympathetic way, the long demise of
said matron. He agrees with himself to keep his sleeves rolled down so she
will not spy his tattoo - tombstone labeled Mom. What a classy guy.
For his father? He spares no such nearly kind sentiments for the one he
refers to as "the old fuckeroo...Pompous blowhard; stultifying
omnipresence; dreary s.o.b. with a heart of gold, no, silver, no, aluminum;
white collar drudge; earnestly mawkish drip-dry sap."
He spends a chapter on a musician named Helen Wheels, describing for our
edification her reproductive apparatus and inclinations, and her (to him)
meaningless passing: "The wages of Rock is death."
I kept wondering if I was supposed to be reading this book, or if I had not
by mistake picked up the prurient musings of a teenaged boy, not meant for
adult eyeballs to glom. It was with mild surprise that I learned that
Richard is only a little younger than me. There is time, then, for his
sensitivities to develop, and with any luck at all, there'll be only a small
queue of people whom he's maligned in print waiting to fill his shoes with
Since I'd hate to be among the portland cement bag ladies lined up outside
his hospital door -- both because I'd rather not get on his bad side and be
chewed up and spit out with all the body fluids intimately spewed across the
page, and because waiting for Richard to pass away would be, like, this huge
big drag on my time -- let me pause for one moment and tell you the good
things about this book.
The cover art is hilarious -- an old couple with eyeballs blunked out by
black rectangles, freaking and grinning. The made-up words like
"geezerology" are clever hooks to keep you reading. And it may just be that
sandwiched in, kind of like really expensive mustard, among the meaty
insults and cheesy cheap shots, are some real human feelings about our
common perceptions of growing old, or as Meltzer chooses to put it, "copping
in print to being old."
I have to do a lot of editing around the good quotes, but here's one I
particuarly enjoyed: "I was in my 50s before I realized barmaids flirt with
you not 'cause they think you're cute or respect your wisdom, but to get a
And better of all: "So misery-efficient this life. But if past mis'ries
would only just drift away...what a deal!"