Sunday, April 24, 2011

Larryville Morel Hunting and Postmodern Literary Shenanigans at KU with Joshua Cohen

If you haven't heard a lot of chatter about morels lately, then you probably haven't been hanging out on the Free State patio with Eastsiders and townies. Prime hunting season is upon us.

Richard: "I like to pair mine with a nice PBR."

We recommend you begin your hunt by watching this LJ-World video in which staff photographer Richard Gwin finds a "small brown" and proclaims this year's crop to be "phenomenal."

You might also want to discuss your finds on the Kansas message board at, where people rave about their "honeyspots" and boast of their bounty:

"Guerinteed" from Frankfurt, KS, says: "found 2700 yesterday in the fields again, it was more like harvesting than picking, we actually left mushrooms because we were tired, going back now of course."

Chip: "I'm skeptical. This reminds me of frat boys who claim they drink 27 beers each night."


If you're like us, you read a lot of extra-long postmodern novels and wish you had a chance to quiz the author face-to-face about what in hell it all means. Tomorrow brings a good opportunity when novelist (and visiting professor at KU) Joshua Cohen reads from his novel Witz at 7:00 in Alderson Auditorium.

The Observer says of Witz: "“It’s the sort of postmodern epic that arrives like a comet about once every decade, like ‘Infinite Jest’ or ‘Gravity’s Rainbow."

According to the NY-Times, the novel concerns the "last Jew alive" (though it never uses the word Jew), who "survives an attack from a country club’s “feral caddies”; apparently turns into a snail; and meets a talking fish that offers to grant him three wishes." The Times praises Cohen's way with language:

"... the scale of the sentences comfortably exceeds the lung capacity of most readers (Cohen isn’t afraid to unfurl a five-page sentence), [but] the prose constantly highlights language’s sonar qualities...Some will be exhausted by the tentacular punning paragraphs, but “Witz” is a brave and artful attempt to explore and explode the limits of the sentence."

Chip: "I had to look up 'tentacular.' This book 'resembles an octopus?'"

We're fans of outrageously long sentences (though we rarely use them ourselves, since hipsters have short attention spans and prefer their language to arrive in short, messy bursts that resemble a Rooftop Vigilantes tune) and we LOVE 'punning paragraphs' (Chip: "If this guy's boring, I'll make like a tree and leave."), so we plan to be on hand tomorrow night for an evening that we predict will be slightly less hip than the night Michael Chabon spent an evening at KU talking about Legos but much more hip than Joseph O'Neil's recent discussion of Netherland (like his novel, he was a bit square).

Chip: "I'm going to ask Cohen what he'd wish for if a fish gave him three wishes."

Richard: "I'm going to ask him if he's ever been morel hunting (and also how he feels about the use of unecessary parenthetical thoughts)."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dr Nogger,

your literary prowess revealed itself today. Bravo