I don't read much fiction anymore. I can't suspend my belief when I think I'm being lied to....conned. So I scour the aisles for good non-fiction: from biography to True Crime. Where the hard edged characters hang out. So I'm in Santa Fe, at a small book store, and find an odd new book called "Hubert's Freaks." It's about the old Freak Show that used to be in Times Square, NYC. Lenny Bruce did a bit on it and Tiny Tim performed there. The book is by a guy named Gregory Gibson, and it's more deeply about a trunk full of Diane Arbus photos found in a storage bin by a book dealer. Good read if you're into Diane Arbus. She took photos like I used to write songs. Sorta twisted. I liked the book so much I bought the other two books the guy wrote. I just finished one of those. It's called "Goneboy: A Walkabout," and it's tragic, moving, and damn good. Gregory Gibson's son was shot and killed in a campus lunatic rubout in 1992, very similar to the recent Norfolk, Virginia shootings. The author digs deep and finds out everything he can about the circumstances, the murder weapon, and the Chinese kid who did the shootings. It's a dark pilgrimage that leads to a rather rugged form of catharsis. I admire the honesty and the conclusions he draws about guns. No simple solutions. The real villians here are the insensitive idiots who run Universities and have no clue how to relate to all the cut-off, psycho bent loners who populate the dormitories of academia. It's gonna happen again and again. I've been inside a maximum security institution, and in a cage with hand-raised wolverines, but dorms and student unions of college campuses have a scarier vibe. Death on the installment plan. Fear in 100 dollar running shoes.
The third book is about a mutiny on a whaling ship - I'm sure it's just as good. This guy Gibson seems to have wide tastes (he's a book dealer himself in Gloucester, Mass.) and he writes an honest sentence full of real emotion. Revolutionary act these days. We are a nation of zombies lining up at chain stores to be fed non-dairy creamer. Check out "Goneboy" and take it with you next time you leave the house.
You know what my mom said: "the secret to life is: never leave the house without a good book. Wherever you're headed, it's bound to be boring. Arm yourself with literature."
In the trecnches of blood and dust. El Paso.