Thursday, May 28, 2009

Oh S**t!

Here's an idea for an English major thesis: "Scatological Motifs in First/Breakout Novels by Male Authors." I came up with this idea while reading The Floating Opera, John Barth's first novel. There is a whole subplot about a crazy old man who stored his own waste in pickle jars. Which reminded me of a similar storyline in John Franzen's novel The Corrections (not his first, but definitely his breakout novel). Booker Prize winners Life of Pi by Yann Martel and Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre also have excrement-related scenes, as does, I seem to recall, The River Why by David James Duncan. What gives? Why do writers -- and it seems to be male writers -- feel a need to write about this subject? Does the freedom to write anything they want prompt some need to be naughty, like a teenager left home alone with the liquor cabinet? Or is there some deeper, Freudian connection between first novels and toilet training? It is not that I didn't enjoy the books mentioned (well, I could have skipped Vernon God Little), but I would be happy to never read another passage discussing bodily waste. Please let me know of other books that should be included on my list, so I will know what to avoid. And you never know -- there could be a lit major out there looking for a thesis idea who would appreciate the extra titles. THE S**T LIST The Floating Opera y John Barth The Corrections by Jonathon Franzen Life of Pi by Yann Martel Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre The River Why by David James Duncan

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