NOTE: This article was originally published at In Mala Fide on November 10, 2011. I’m re-posting it here because I’ve taken the site off-line. I’ve replaced the text of the (inferior) review that was previously at this URL.
One of the Big Problems of our epoch, according to smart people, is how nobody’s reading books anymore. This is horrible, no good, and very bad for the future of Uh-Mare-Eca. Those durned kids spend all their time on Facebook and playing World of WarCraft instead of reading books, and as a result they’re getting dumber and dumber with each passing year, so dumb their tongues hang out of their mouths and they can’t tie their shoelaces or keep score for a bowling game by hand or recite the Gettysburg Address from memory. Y’know, because the best way to ensure someone understands a famous speech is to force them to memorize it and have them repeat it back to you.
Smart people who lament the end of fancy book-learnin’ are
not so smart retarded. Yes, it’s true that people don’t read books as much as they used to. But the average schmuck back then wasn’t reading War and Peace, he was thumbing through the likes of The Thin Man, The Long Goodbye, True Grit or any number of mass market paperbacks aimed at the lowest common denominator. No preaching, no philosophizing, no complex themes or symbolism for tenured college professors to force their students to write fifteen-page papers about; just action, adventure, mystery and sex. Even the likes of Horatio Alger or Ayn Rand have had far more impact on American culture than F. Scott Fitzgerald, Robert Creeley or any of the other unreadable hacks that the lit-crit types gush over.
And yet we’re supposed to pretend that Creeley’s illiterate free verse poems on buying tampons for his girlfriend represent the height of American letters. That’s why nobody reads anymore: the writers you idiots are pushing suck, suck, suck. Take this excursion to Parnassus by Sherman Alexie as an example of the sheer awfulness of modern literature:
On the Amtrak from Boston to New York City
The white woman across the aisle from me says ‘Look,
look at all the history, that house
on the hill there is over two hundred years old, ‘
as she points out the window past me
into what she has been taught. I have learned
little more about American history during my few days
back East than what I expected and far less
of what we should all know of the tribal stories
whose architecture is 15,000 years older
than the corners of the house that sits
museumed on the hill. ‘Walden Pond, ‘
the woman on the train asks, ‘Did you see Walden Pond? ‘
and I don’t have a cruel enough heart to break
her own by telling her there are five Walden Ponds
on my little reservation out West
and at least a hundred more surrounding Spokane,
the city I pretended to call my home. ‘Listen, ‘
I could have told her. ‘I don’t give a shit
about Walden. I know the Indians were living stories
around that pond before Walden’s grandparents were born
and before his grandparents’ grandparents were born.
I’m tired of hearing about Don-fucking-Henley saving it, too,
because that’s redundant. If Don Henley’s brothers and sisters
and mothers and father hadn’t come here in the first place
then nothing would need to be saved.’
But I didn’t say a word to the woman about Walden
Pond because she smiled so much and seemed delighted
that I thought to bring her an orange juice
back from the food car. I respect elders
of every color. All I really did was eat
my tasteless sandwich, drink my Diet Pepsi
and nod my head whenever the woman pointed out
another little piece of her country’s history
while I, as all Indians have done
since this war began, made plans
for what I would do and say the next time
somebody from the enemy thought I was one of their own.
Forget the whiny racial identity politics of the poem and simply concentrate on the structure. Doesn’t this poem seem a bit off to you? There’s just something wrong with it, but you can’t tell exactly what? Here, let me help:
The white woman across the aisle from me says ‘Look, look at all the history, that house on the hill there is over two hundred years old, ‘ as she points out the window past me into what she has been taught. I have learned little more about American history during my few days back East than what I expected and far less of what we should all know of the tribal stories whose architecture is 15,000 years older than the corners of the house that sits museumed on the hill.
‘Walden Pond,’ the woman on the train asks, ‘Did you see Walden Pond?’ and I don’t have a cruel enough heart to break her own by telling her there are five Walden Ponds on my little reservation out West and at least a hundred more surrounding Spokane, the city I pretended to call my home.
‘Listen,’ I could have told her. ‘I don’t give a shit about Walden. I know the Indians were living stories around that pond before Walden’s grandparents were born and before his grandparents’ grandparents were born. I’m tired of hearing about Don-fucking-Henley saving it, too, because that’s redundant. If Don Henley’s brothers and sisters and mothers and father hadn’t come here in the first place then nothing would need to be saved.’
But I didn’t say a word to the woman about Walden Pond because she smiled so much and seemed delighted that I thought to bring her an orange juice back from the food car. I respect elders of every color. All I really did was eat my tasteless sandwich, drink my Diet Pepsi and nod my head whenever the woman pointed out another little piece of her country’s history while I, as all Indians have done since this war began, made plans for what I would do and say the next time somebody from the enemy thought I was one of their own.
That’s right, take away the line breaks and this “poem” becomes a bunch of run-on sentences. Not only does it not rhyme, it doesn’t even have any meter. The number of syllables in each line is completely random. This Alexie guy wrote a few paragraphs, hit the Enter key a few extra times, and tried to pass it off as legitimate verse. And the Beigeists in the publishing world lapped it up and begged for more.
Speaking of which, since this guy loves to sermonize about the evils of the white man and the suffering of “Native Americans,” I’d love to know which Indian language the name “Sherman Alexie” comes from. I’m guessing it’s from the Fullashit tribe, who live on the Ur-Anus Reservation in northern Idaho, but I’m no expert in Indian linguistics, so someone feel free to correct me in the comments.
But “On the Amtrak” is small-time hackery: there are far more sob-squirters, schlockmeisters and all-around frauds out there with completely undeserved fame and critical reputations. But thing is, I can’t really blame them too much. It’s a fact that you can’t spell “stupid” without “U,” and it’s thanks to U that these fools are allowed to run around mass-murdering trees for their banal, bathetic books. Snake oil salesmen can’t ply their trade without credulous dullards to give them their money and praise, and that’s what U’ve been doing.
So, in an effort to help push back the tide of blandness and idiocy (and put my college education to use), I’ve decided to start reviewing books more often. If you scroll up to the top of the site, you’ll see a new page in the header entitled “Book Reviews” under the “Support Us” button. Every time I write up a book, you’ll find it there. Plus, I’ve decided to get with the program and add links to buy each book in each post. If you buy any book I recommend by clicking those links, I get a commission at no extra cost to you, and in the case of Amazon links, I’ll still get a commission even if you end up buying something completely different.
To keep this post from being too long, I’ll start with just one book, but man is it a good one. I’ll pick up with more reviews next week.
The eXile: Sex, Drugs, and Libel in the New Russia by Mark Ames and Matt Taibbi
This is honestly one of the few books I’ve read that changed my life, and one of the few I make a point to re-read once a year. I’d wager that 100% of the people who poo-poo me for liking Ames and Taibbi haven’t read it. My opinion may be skewed by the fact that I picked it up as a teenager, but even guys like Roosh who’ve had their own share of foreign adventures have been blown away by the eXile.
The book is divided into eight chapters, half by Ames, half by Taibbi. Fans of muckraking will appreciate Taibbi’s contributions, which deal with the unbelievable amount of corruption and fraud in late 90′s Russia. The mainstream narrative about Russia is that Boris Yeltsin was a great capitalist, pro-Western reformer unexpectedly decapitated by the 1998 economic collapse, and that Vladimir Putin is an evil fascist who hates freedom and probably eats cute puppy dogs. The reality is that Yeltsin was a venal bastard who aided and abetted the rape of his own country by capitalist oligarchs (both Western and Russian), and Putin is beloved by the Russian people because he had all the looters murdered, imprisoned or driven into exile (heh). The reason you don’t know about this is because the entire Western press corps in Moscow, with the exception of the eXile, either turned a blind eye to the corruption or actively collaborated with the oligarchs. Hmmm, this all sounds kinda familiar… but nah, it can’t happen here.
To this day, Mark Ames and Matt Taibbi are despised by the MSM because of the way they caught them with their pants down. To give just one example of how far ahead of the curve they were, the eXile was one of the only newspapers in the world that predicted the Russian financial meltdown of 1998. Particularly eye-opening is Taibbi’s chapter on Michael Bass, an American crook who symbolized the worst of 90′s expat excess. Bass was a convicted felon who came to Moscow to pimp Slavic nubiles for quick cash while simultaneously trying to present himself as a respectable public figure, writing a society column for a now-defunct expat rag, The Moscow Tribune. After the eXile ran a story on how he sold an aspiring Californian runway model into sex slavery to an Arab sheik, Bass gave Taibbi what may be the most passive-aggressive death threat of all time:
After I got off the phone with Liz, I called Bass right away. I told him that, while I wouldn’t print a retraction, I was willing to publish his side of the Paris story. He hedged, diving straight into his creepy rehab-therapist voice:
“I don’t know, Matt,” he said. “I just don’t know what to do. I mean, I’m really hurt about this. I cried. And you know, the worst thing is that my charity programs are going to suffer. That’s the thing that hurts me the most.”
Was all this really happening to me? Was he serious? “So what are you planning to do?” I asked.
“I don’t know…My roof wanted to kill you right away, but I really don’t know what to do. I mean, what are my options? I can have you killed, or I can pay someone a couple of hundred bucks to have your legs broken, or I can just let it go. And I don’t like any of those options.”
“Michael, I can’t believe you’re threatening me like this. What is this, the Solntsevo gang? You’re talking about having me killed.”
“I’m not threatening you,” he insisted.
“You’re sitting here, saying you don’t know what you want to do, and talking about having me killed as one of your options! That’s a threat from where I sit.”
The tale has a happy ending, with Bass humiliated and exposed for all of Moscow’s expats to jeer at.
All this isn’t to argue that Ames and Taibbi are saints: Ames’ half of the book will dispel that notion pretty quickly. Beginning with his contracting the worst case of scabies ever from a one-night stand in St. Petersburg, Mark Ames takes us from his early years living in a run-down California nursing home with his Czech girlfriend to his first months hustling in Moscow, and his eventually founding the eXile with a pair of proto-SWPL faggots from Seattle. The passage where he fantasizes about their violent deaths at the hands of Chechen gangsters may be some of the most disturbingly funny writing in the history of the English language.
But Ames doesn’t hit his stride until the book’s midway point, with the chapters “Our God is Speed” and “The White God Factor.” “Our God is Speed” details his adventures with drugs and is full of sick, graphic detail (such as his junkie pal Kolya’s “shooting bloodied water from his infected needle across [their friend's] floor”), but “The White God Factor,” about his experiences with Russian women, is of particular interest to us manospherians. In between recounting his sexual encounters in Russia and Belarus, Ames tears feminism and American women to itty-bitty pieces:
Out in Russia, you gain a little perspective, which can be dangerous. Deep down, as it turns out, even the most emasculated, wire-rimmed glasses, cigar-smoking and martini-drinking American guy fantasizes about living in a world full of…well, I’ll let you guess:
a) self reliant women who are also your friends
Okay, still stuck? I’ll amend it. All men – that’s right, all sane men – fantasize about a world populated with:
a) self-reliant androgynous women who are also your friends
b) young, beautiful sluts
Envelope please… Whoah! This is a shocker, folks! Hold on to your seats! Turns out, when you scrape away the surface implants, every single sane man wants…drum roll, maestro…young, beautiful sluts!
CUT TO: Young, beautiful sluts seated in third row, hands cupped over mouths in shocked surprise…They stand, crying-laughing, hugging each other, then slowly make their way towards the podium, kissed by vigorously applauding men on their way there…
Young, beautiful sluts. It’s a censored fantasy, and best kept that way: After all, in coastal America, reality couldn’t be further away from that fantasy. It exists only in chat rooms, and even there, most of the alleged F18′s are gay 50-year old men with spiked five-inch butt-plugs wedged up their asses.
Nearly every Westerner who comes here – male and female – is shocked by the beauty factor. It takes a while for the brain to trust the eyes…Their Eurasian features (pale skin, eyes that are both slanted and large, colored gray or ice-blue, and sleek legs like a gazelle’s) and exaggerated feminine gestures stir things in the expat male’s primordial consciousness. Perhaps it has something to do with the gratuitous fellatio-friendly lipstick jobs girls here wear: bright red paint from nose to chin, which screams: “I am capable of sucking your dick so hard that you’ll have to pull the sheets out of your ass!” In America such women are available only to producers and rock stars. In Russia, they’re everywhere – they’re the norm. And expat men have a leg up on everyone.
And of course, no book on late 90′s Russia is complete without a mention of the Hungry Duck, a Moscow expat bar whose nightly bacchanalia made 120 Days of Sodom look like a church social:
Shortly after, Doug created a special Hungry Duck version of Ladies’ Night that made our champagne bottle seem like bathroom graffiti in comparison. Ladies’ Night is another word for rape camp. On Ladies’ Night, only girls (generally ages 12 through 25) are allowed in, while all men are kept at bay from 7:00 P.M. to 9:00 P.M. The girls are offered free drinks, as much and as fast as they can down them. Not just offered free drinks, but pumped full of free drinks…Russians aren’t known for their moderation when it comes to liquor; your average five-foot-one dyev could put any NFL lineman under the table. The point of Ladies’ Night is to get the girls as drunk as possible in a two-hour period, then to open the floodgates to the guys and let the rape camp festivities begin. It was a brilliant idea to raise the volume of vomit and semen to levels yet unseen even in the Duck.
Ames then relays the story of the time he and Taibbi tended bar during Ladies’ Night, where he “drunkenly slobbered into seven or eight different teenage mouths” and there was a “river of vomit coming out of the stalls” of the women’s bathroom.
When I posted an excerpt of Ames’ in which he bragged about threatening to murder one of his girlfriends if she didn’t get an abortion (and convinced another to have her little bastard vacuumed out) a few months back, commenter PA referred to him as a “piece of shit” and claimed he “ruined” the girls. Ames is a piece of shit, to be sure, but Russian women are as equally vile, as he shatters the fantasies of white knights and mail order bride-site cruising beta schmucks with this passage:
…[Russian women] live it up to the max while they have the upper hand, when nature is good to them. They know that time is working against them. Youth is a dirty word here – most go straight to adulthood by the age of 14. I can count five women I’ve slept with who lost their virginity at age 11; they treat it as dry fact, like when their first teeth grew, and not as a psychology-loaded tragedy. A Russian woman is at the peak of her power from about age 13 to until 20. After that, beauty is subjected to the cruel forces of entropy, which renders them unrecognizable beasts – Division II noseguards – by the age of 30. That’s why most have been married at least once by the time they hit 20 – in the provinces, the age is more like 17.
To hammer home the point, Ames quotes Edward Limonov (another great, underrated writer, and one of Ames’ intellectual inspirations): “Russian women are usually, physically speaking, attractive, but morally – they are repulsive creatures, cripples.” Oh, Spengler’s Universal Law of Gender Parity, you haven’t failed me yet.
One of the nice things about the eXile book is that it comes in a nice big 8 1/2 by 11 inch size, allowing the editors to toss unabridged reprints of eXile articles, cartoons, and covers in the margins. It adds value to an already action-packed title, but you definitely don’t want to read this one in mixed company, unless you want to explain away a picture of a dyevushka with a champagne bottle jammed in her asshole or an prank cover with the headline “NIGGERS! Where Do They Come From… and Why Are They Here?”
When I first read this book a decade ago, it planted a germ in my mind, a desire to see the world beyond my country’s shores. Mark Ames’ Russia no longer exists, as shown by the collapse of the eXile itself three years ago. This is a good thing for both the Russians themselves and for proponents of nationalism across the globe. But the grip of go-fuck-yourself Calvinist conservatism and its hanger-on ideologies is still choking the life out of America and the West at large. Even with the Occupy protesters pushing back against the state religion, I doubt Americans can snap out of their stupor in time to halt the coming collapse. One decade later, I’m closer than ever to breaking out of the asylum.
Some will argue that Mark Ames and Matt Taibbi are bad men, and they’d have a point. But as is the case with so much of human history, it’s not a case of good vs. bad, it’s bad vs. worse. Ames and Taibbi are slime, but they’re far more honest, truthful and talented than their detractors, the defenders of everything that’s wrong with the world. People like them make the world a far more interesting place. If the choice is between them and you amoral, two-faced cocksuckers, I’ll take them.
Click here to buy The Exile: Sex, Drugs, and Libel in the New Russia.
Read Next: The Way of Men by Jack Donovan