About my first novel, Billy Gibbons’s Eyes, they wrote: “The best novel since Ulysses.” Were they talkin’ Homer or did they mean the Joyce thing? I never found out, but it was kinda flattering anyway. This year, the New York Times Review of Books called my second collection of short-short almost-stories (Cracker Hour) “twisted and sublime” and “a thing of terrible beauty.” What does that mean, exactly? If the reviewer, Mr. Milton Hardtquop, was disturbed in some way by my rants about murder, suicide, white magic, black magic, grave robbing for charity, kitchen disasters and dismemberment, poodle-strangulation syndrome, bipolar disorder, diarrhea and ennui, why didn’t he just say so? I wrote the paper to ask him and instead of answering my question, they printed my letter in the most recent issue of New York Times Review of Books. Now the sales of my books’re even hotter than before. The publisher is getting rich. Me too. I now own three houses, a boat, a Cy Twombly painting, and the left thigh bone of a Tyrannosaurus rex. What more could I want? I will tell you. I want someone to answer my question. What is terrible beauty? And where can I buy some?
© Brett Davidson, 2014