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mardi, juillet 10, 2007

a huge vat of preservative grease

Cette fois-ci, un petit cadeau, un petit bout de détour dans une botte de kryptonite: je vous recopie presque tel quel un extrait très concentré d'une belle matière

parce que rien de ce que je pourrais vous en dire ne pourrait vraiment lui faire honneur

L'histoire d'un sous-marin appelé Yabba-Dabba-Doo, et vous allez peut-être bien comprendre où je veux en venir, si vous voulez bien vous donner la peine de prendre cinq minutes (oh ça vaut le coup)

1969: The Singular Excursion of the Anium Otter

Howard Hugues came up with the idea during the paranoid tailspin of his dying years. After seeing a documentary on cryptozoology, the study of animals that turn up in places where they don't belong, Hugues concocted a scheme to secretly transplant a herd of kangaroos from Australia to the South Dakota badlands. He somehow convinced himself (years of codeine abuse may have played a role here) that the appearance of kangaroos outside of Rapid City would trigger an "international cryptozoological incident" that the U.S. government would have to spend millions of taxpayer dollars investigating, thereby draining the Treasury and forcing salary cuts at the Department of Internal Revenue. Hugues hated taxes, and the thought of I.R.S. staffers losing their Christmas bonues over a bunch of marsupials made him happier than a bucket of cough syrup.
Early in 1968, Hugues telephoned Melvin Dummar (a friendly Utag gas station attendant who'd once picked him up hitchhiking in the desert) and confided his plan. Dummar agreed it was a stroke of genius but said it reminded him of a novel he'd heard of - not actually read, but heard of- in which Mormon sewer workers do battle with albino alligators beneath the streets of Salt Lake City. A novel? said Hugues, and in a few narxotic-assisted leaps of the imagination decided that the feds had foxed him somehow, figured out his intentions and rushed into print to taunt him with their foreknowledge. He asked Dummar who the book's author was, and Dummar told him, sort of.
Back at the Desert Inn Hotel in Vegas, Hugues whipped up a set of blueprints for a gigantic cargo submarine and engaged a Detroit shipwright to build it. The sub's hull was to be composed of a mixture of titanium and germanium, an ultrastrong alloy patented simply as "anium": hence the name of the completed vessel. On November 30, 1969, The Anium Otter was launched into lake Erie with a bellyful of kangaroo and Hugues at the conn.
On the 8th of December (there'd been a delay sneaking the sub through the New York State Barge Canal) a Finger Lakes marijuana farmer named Thomas Pinch was awakened in the night by sounds of stampede. Thinking, much as Hughes had, that the government had got wise to his business, he grabbed a shotgun and a terrycloth bathrobe and headed for the door of his cabin, only to discover that some forty-odd kangaroos had broken into his camouflaged greenhouses and where chowing down on his cash crop. When a particularly large and woozy 'roo began to make boxer-like gestures in Thomas Pinch's direction, the farmer bolted back inside the cabin, but not before a cackling Hugues managed to snap a single flash Polaroid.
By dawn's first light the herd - along with half an acre of winter cannabis - was gone, though not without a trace. Thomas Pinch followed the profusion of kanga-prints down to the edge of tge lake. The tracks came out of of the water; the tracks went back into the water.
Shit, Pinch thought, no one's ever going to believe this. Drifting in the deeps off Taughannock Point, Howard Hugues chuckled and lit himself a joint.
The I.R.S. had the last laugh. The fate of the forty kangaroos is unknown, but after Hugues's death in 1976, the Anium Otter was auctioned off to help pay the seventy-seven percent inheritant tax on his estate. The Otter was purchased by one Dobi Khashoggi, the black sheep expatriate third cousing of Saudi arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, for resale in the Middle East. A number of desert sheiks expressed interest in owning a submarine, but Adnan, acting in a fit of pique, managed to sabotage every prospective deal until Dobi was completely humiliated in the eyes of the family. And so Hugues's last brainchild - now more albatross than otter - spent the next thirty-eight years sitting in a huge vat of preservative grease on the Motown docks, until Morris Kazenstein came by to a look at it. By this point Dobi's disgraced descendants were only too happy to unload the cursed thing, especillay on a Jew, and they let him have it for a song.
The Polaroid snapshot Hugues had taken was left aboard the sub and remained there throughout the decades of cold storage. During the lengthy processing of transforming the Anium Otter into the still larger and probable Yabba-Dabba-Doo, Morris found the faded photo tucked away in the periscope housing. He gave it to the chief engineer, Irma Rajamutti, a graduate of Bombay University with a double major in applied mechanics and eccentric literati. After the submarine refit was complted Irma taped the Polaroid up on the wall of the engine room. If asked who the guy in the terrycloth robe was she would reply: "J.D. Salinger."
Having already been misidentified once in a big way, Thomas Pinch probably wouldn't have minded this.

C'est un livre que j'ai payé $3.99 canadiens au Village des Valeurs de la rue Jean Talon, à Montreal, paumé, dans un dédale sordide paraphernal de tissus laid et de petits animaux empaillés, entre un bric de Daniel Steele en français, un broc Star Trek, une édition originale du Letters de Barth qui pesait bien trop lourd pour que j'envisage même la ramener avec moi en France

et j'ai un peu tiqué en le voyant au début, parce que j'avais déjà lu, un autre temps, un autre livre plus récent de son auteur, Set This House in Order, et que j'avais trouvé ça tout juste pas mal

Il s'agit du deuxième roman de Matt Ruff, Sewer, Gas & Electric, une sorte de trilogie, un bond de travers vers un futur idiot improbable et donc pas du tout un roman d'anticipation, et, pour rester, simple, Thomas Pynchon, qui doit aimer se trouver, nom et âme, dans les livres des autres, en a dit, sur la quatrième de couverture fluorescente, "a post-Millenial spectacular -dizzingly readable!", vous pensez alors si je l'ai acheté, il y a qu'à Montreal, on trouve rien ou presque, et j'étais dans la débâcle d'un grand hangar éclairé au néon où on pouvait voir léviter les microns de poussière dans la misère, et tout ce que je peux vous en dire dans l'éclatante expérience de sa lecture (pas fini, pas fini), c'est que je regrette d'avoir attendu si longtemps pour venir y faire trempette, que c'est, d'abord sans surprise, une belle, effarante débauche athlétique de trames effectivement pynchonesques, effectivement hilarantes, dont on reconnaîtra la musique, les instruments, les petits soli qui divaguent, le slapstick techniciste qui fait un boucan pas possible (les genous des robots qui s'entrechoquent), les interruptions constantes de détours hoquetants pour feuilleter l'histoire et plier l'espace dans tous les sens jusqu'au meli melo de calabi-yau, où les kangourous boxent et les noms de personnage tombés d'un petit molesekine noirâtre piqué dans la table de nuit de George Lucas, une définition parfaite des acronymes ("a sort of inventor's poetry"), des traits un peu forcés comme dans le Broom of the System de Foster Wallace mais qui trépignent, explosent, catapultent, comme chez l'autre wonderkid, le bonheur par la virtuosité bouillonnante des échaffaudages et des embranchements, que c'est un peu dur à suivre (on est loin de la frontière GR, quand même) mais que quand on y colle son nez, micron par micron, c'est l'incarnation même d'un bon mot capitaliste, "safety doesn't sell" et


mais zut, zut, je voulais attendre pour mieux vous en parler, religieusement, revenez donc sur l'extrait ci-dessus, et voyez comme l'hommage est vibrant, en attendant que je me sois bien rendu compte de qui arrive

je sais même pas si on trouve ce truc ailleurs qu'au Village des Valeurs, j'ai un chat dans la gorge, la faute à la poussière, ou alors, tiens, je vois que Ruff (j'ai envie de dire "Matt Ruff" en entier, la musique de son nom tombe sous le rythme de la langue, comme une franchise de chocolat) sort un nouveau livre dans deux semaines

et c'est quoi ces goûts de chiotte, Matt? c'est quoi? (il y a anguille sous roche)

1 commentaires:

À 8:18 AM , Anonymous Matthieu a dit...

L'anecdote sur Howard Hugues m'a inspiré un tour là-dessus...


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