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 www.gerardjones.com, 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 http://www.everyonewhosanyone.com/ 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.