I’m not here to offer reassurance or say what’s politically correct or polite in ordinary society. “Polite” and “ordinary” I am not. I admire folks like Bill Hicks and Richard Pryor. Sam Kinison makes me giggle like a loon. There is no easy listening music on my turntable—I like my music as heavy and hard as it gets.
All that aside, I hope people will take what I say with just a tiny grain of salt. I’ve always wanted to get business cards printed up: on one side it would say “Cliff Burns, Writer”. On the other, two words: “Satire” and “Hyperbole”, along with definitions for the simple-minded. I mean, take a look at my fiction, a story like “Strays”. It’s supposed to be funny, fer Chrissake! Anyone who can read my tale “RSVP” without laughing out loud has the sense of humour of Martin Luther with a bad case of piles. My friend Peter Watts (terrific writer, congrats on the Hugo nomination, you bastard!), put it best when he wrote me recently saying that some people are frightened of the cutting edge. Afraid of getting their fingers nicked. They find more safety and comfort in the herd.
Which might explain why my recent review on Amazon.com of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road provoked quite a few nasty comments from folks who should have known better. Check it out and you’ll see what I mean. Believe me, it’s a far tamer version of the remarks I printed in “Spleen”. Still, I poked a bit o’ fun at Opie and the gals who waste too much time hanging on her every word, taping her program if they’re afraid of missing it…and look what happens. I feel like Bill Shatner in that famous “Saturday Night Live” sketch: get a life, girls.
The Road being featured on Oprah…I still shudder to think of it. And I’m not the only one who’s wondering what got into ol’ Cormac’s head. One academic was quoted as saying that he was still picking his jaw up off the floor. It’s like…like…Tommy Pynchon acceding to an interview with People magazine. The Pope doing a spread in Playgirl. I’m not sure I can pick up another McCarthy book again for a good long while. And yet, I’m tempted to find someone to tape Opie’s interview with him, watch his reaction when she asks him something pithy like: “Why are your books so hard to read?” or “When did you first realize you were smart?”