Monday, April 20, 2009

"GINNY GOOD" or Is She?

Gerard Jones is another author smacked with a frozen halibut by the publishing industry and therefore resorting to publishing on the Internet. He writes “an odd amalgam of fiction and nonfiction on and off his entire adult life.” Seems to me a lot of us are doing that.

Gerard Jones is one of at least four people named Gerard Jones, one of which was born thirty miles north of me in Cut Bank because his dad was a summer ranger in Glacier National Park. That was 1957. He tells me that in the Sixties the Scriver Museum of Montana Wildlife was his “most favorite place on earth” and he holds that mounted rearing griz in his icon memory bank as many Montana generations did until the museum was looted by lawyers.

This Gerard says, “Yes, there are two Gerard Joneses (more if you count the chef and the basketball player). The OTHER Gerard Jones wrote “Ginny Good” and attacks publishers. He was born in Michigan. However, he and I both lived in San Francisco at different times. I still do, and his “Ginny Good” is set here.” “I write blogs, but mainly to serialize humorous fiction or write about writer's block.” This mild and cuddly (his photo looks that way) Gerard Jones is at, bless his heart.

The sharp-edged Gerard Jones lives in Ashland, Oregon, and vaguely knows my friend Laird, a star and director in that famous Shakespearean company. This Gerard’s blog is at If you go there, below is some of what you find. (I hope you understand irony.)

“Here's a seven minute excerpt from Chapter Twenty-three (Golden Gate Park) of the fifteen hour Audio Book of GINNY GOOD—easily and by far the greatest work of literary art made anywhere in the world so far this century:

“You won't listen to it, of course; you only listen to the drivel your owners pay propaganda boys and girls to weasel you into listening to, but so what? I made it. That was what I wanted to do. You can learn more about how the media and entertainment monopoly rots your brain, robs you blind and keeps you a stupid slave from cradle to grave by reading Chapters 39-42 of Oprah's Dead Son.

“You won't do that, either. Oh, well. Ignorance is bliss. Here's Ginny Good (ISBN: 0972635750) in its entirety. You can buy it new for $16.95 or you can read it online for free—yet another thing you won't do.


Is he serious? Why wouldn’t he be? His directory is simply a transcription of every agent he contacted and their responses, plus their email addresses. They speak for themselves.

Keeping his word, Gerard sent me a bound copy of “Ginny Good” plus CD’s of the book read out loud, and assures me it will someday be famous. Could happen. I’m reading “Oprah’s Dead Son,” also on his website, at the moment. I’ll get back to you on that story.

“Ginny Good” is about an intermittent relationship between the author and a woman some people would call a “psycho” and others might describe as “high maintenance.” She is living proof that understanding one’s craziness is not a whole lot of help, nor does it make her unloveable -- though fairly unliveable-with. This sort of person seems to be one of the contemporary preoccupations of fiction: a recurring problem to solve, maybe. (I’d like to see an unlikely comparison with Wallace Stegner’s “Crossing to Safety,” also about a difficult woman but of quite a different sort.) She is not blamed, but loved in spite of herself. The writing is crisp and bright.

Ginny is what has me thinking about post-pornography though there’s lots of sex. She’s not Fanny Hill, she’s not O, she’s not Marilyn Chambers (who died recently -- if you don’t know who she is, you don’t need to). She has no shame and no particular investment in physical acts that used to be forbidden to describe. Jones (! -- okay, maybe I’d better call him Gerard) tells us frankly about which little pink parts get engorged and so on, but mostly on the woman. Not on his own apparatus. Seems to me that’s the reverse of old-fashioned porn, which included a lot of boasting about male dimensions. But then, I wasn’t taking this cool objective view in the brief days when I read a bit of that.

As seems to be the mainstream among boomers, Ginny and Gerard don’t shy off from “bad words” or drugs or sex or unemployment, the things that are supposed to kill you. In the end Ginny dies, but not from any of the above. Suicide. Depression. Alienation. These are lacks, not excesses.

A recent Netflix film, “Eve of Understanding” goes through the same problems but comes out, well, “Oprah.” The idea (conceived, written, directed and starred in by Alyson Shelton in what has to be a mix of reality and fiction) is that the heroine’s mother just killed herself and left her daughter a collection of things to deliver to specific people. These meetings bring her to herself, thus buying the idea that if one knows oneself, TRULY, then all is explained and all is well.

“Ginny Good” is not like that. The story finds people, in the end, inscrutable. Effort is irrelevant. This moment doesn’t suggest the next one. I’ve been thinking about what is taboo but obsessively preoccupying these days, since all these books and movies freely describe and show sex, drugs and Anglo-Saxon four-letter words, sometimes violence. Can it be that we’re back to that old Beatnik despair? That tomorrow is so daunting that we don’t dare think about it, much less hope for it?

The part of “Ginny Good” that I liked the best was about an LSD episode in the woods, a poetic and mystical fantasy -- or is it seeing to the heart of reality? Maybe that’s the way we used to think of sex, a blissing out, an ecstasy. An escape from reality and all the newspaper stories about asteroids about to snuff us like dinosaurs, rising temperatures, new diseases. babies starving.

Easy enough to decide about this book for yourself: just go to the website. (It you get the wrong Gerard, you might like him, too.) My premise is that if publishers don’t want to publish some guy’s work, then that writer must be onto something. It is particularly telling that they don’t even want you to see their business correspondence. It destroys the “success porn” that we all believe: that a book can make your fortune, make you famous . . . make you happy. I guess it can -- if you’re the publisher of it rather than merely the writer.


Anonymous said...

Hey, man, I talk about my own woebegone apparatus in exquisite, excruciating detail in Ch. 31:

"Melanie had a certain knack, a way, somehow, of making a guy feel like his dick was as important to her as it was to him. The Shakespeare guy was making it all the easier for her, too, by staying so cool, so aloof—lounging there with such aplomb. Her long pretty hair brushed his nipples. The intellectual concept crossed my mind that I ought to have been kind of turned on myself, but I wasn't. My own dick was shriveled up to about the size of an acorn buried somewhere near my left kidney."

Plus I don't do irony and I don't "attack" publishers, but those things aside nice job...let me know when you've listened to all the music and audio clips that go with the story...they're slick. Thanks. G.

Cori said...

damn slick :) this is a great book, although G sent me the audio CDs. I think that was awesome!

Anonymous said...

Some years back G sent the CDs to me after I read the entire book online. We had a some correspondence via email and the guy's a genius. Even though I was in my mid 30's when we had our chat he had a way of making me feel as though I lived side by side with Ginny and him in the 60's.

Leanne Judd said...

I read that book and I'll never forget it. Maybe because I was only a toddler in the sixties but I felt he did such a good job in writing that book that I was actually 18 or 19 instead of 2 or 3 and right there in San Francisco with all those people.

He's a great author. Thanks to him I will never have to experiment with LSD to know what its like.