The Zero Degree of Meaning Tour for the release of my novel Codename Prague in 2011 has officially begun. This is the inaugural blog entry.
A giant sinkhole opened up in the road on my way to the first reading/signing on November 1 at the Fort Wayne Rotary Club. Sinkholes are unheard of in this area. Police tried their best to redirect traffic. They failed. In fact, they produced more traffic than their absence would have ensured. I drive a Subaru Forester and skirted the sinkhole by offroading my way through a beanfield.
I left home early. I needed some L-Glucose powder and stopped by a GNC on the way to Rotary.
I assume GNC employees work on commission since whenever I enter the store they’re on me like shit-starved flies, asking what they can do for me in multiple overfriendly ways. I ignored them, on this occasion, and when they persisted, I told them I didn’t need any help, and when they still persisted, offering me free high protein taffy squares, I said, “No. I’ll let you know if I need help. I know what I want. I know where it is.” Unfazed, they stayed on me, offering me more free bullshit, assuring me that they could do this, that, etc. I got meaner. And I discovered that the meaner I got, the more overfriendly the GNC employees became.
I decided to try this technique out at the Rotary Club, if only in trace amounts.
Before my presentation, I warmed up in the bathroom. Note the still shot of my warm-up routine (incline pushups).
Immediately I could tell that the Rotarians were taken aback by my outfit: tight-fitting black Calvin Klein t-shirt, designer Tyler Straight Fit jeans from The Buckle, worn-out brown Doc Martins—the only outfit I ever wear, more or less. The Rotarian who introduced me was so frazzled he kept repeating himself and making weird huffing sounds, so I stepped to the podium, mindfully excused him, and faced the crowd.
I often play Journey’s “Separate Ways” when I do book readings. Compliments of a superpowered iPhone microspeaker, I often turn the song up so that I can barely be heard.
As a preface, I explained how I am not a writer, i.e., how my writing is not writing, or rather, how my writing is more about writing than something that might actually be quantified as “real” writing. I assured them that I was not a mere metawriter either, since my (meta)writing is about the act of metawriting too. I said that they could call me a metametawriter, if they wanted, but technically the two metas cancelled themselves out, or something, rendering me the writer I had already said I wasn’t. As for Codename Prague, I mentioned that it was not so much a novel as a map for how to write a novel, specifically a bad pulp science fiction novel with lots of gore and swearing and some graphic sex scenes. I concluded my preface with a quote from David Cronenberg’s Videodrome: “Long live the new flesh.”
“Separate Ways” repeated itself as I read from the first chapter of Codename Prague in which my naked and smartassed protagonist (an African-Amerikanized trickster figure) is attacked by bionic government-sanctioned “SAMSAs” (Syncretic Amerikan Metaformulaic Stock Agents) in a homegrown antigravity matrix.
Physiognomic Rotarian-response criticism unfolded in curious and exciting directions.
As I read, I noticed my father sitting in the audience. He was dressed like an Arab—white keffiyeh, black agal and bisht—in some weird attempt to disguise himself. I pretended not to see him, and he pretended not to see me, but we knew we saw each other, of course, and we knew we were pretending not to see each other.
He snuck out shortly before the conclusion of the chapter.