The Benny Poda Years
27 - Nowhere
Change is the price of survival. And survival is an instinct, even when we wish it weren't. Trust instinct to the end, even though you can't render any goddamn reasons.
But for all we Take in Life we Must Pay, and Life had been giving me no Credit. I wanted to get far away from myself, but, of course, that's what I'd wanted for Years. So I chucked the shit. This was the Game of the Season.
I thought my life would be complete once I fucked Emmylou Harris. Then I found out how EASY it is to fuck Emmylou Harris and no sooner had I shot my wad I was miserable again. I wanted a College Doctorate. I bought one like Crack from a Nigger. I thought there would come some Achievement of some Goal that would make everything All Right. Well, pal, only for Mario.
But since a Promise Made is a Debt Incurred, I kept on keepin' on.
When I found Nassir wandering down the highway somewhere south of Pittsburgh, he was drunk on Wash and looked about as comely as Gary Oldman in the movie about the dude that eats people's Cerebral Cortexes, but I picked him up all the same in a car I'd stole from a Whore in Jersey and we just headed South for the Winter. I started chugging the Wash with him RIGHT THEN, too. It was Food Lion brand but shit, dude, and it might not have been wise to drink the shit, but common sense dictates you Do what you have to Do and plus, Persistence and Common Sense are more important than Intelligence. The latter of which I never had much in the first place. Good thing I got this book ghostwritten for me, or I couldn't put two sentences together. After all, this IS J.D. Salinger, asswipe. At the time of this writing I am 82 years old and more senile than a Tambourine Man.
And after that mouthwash godDAMN did I want me some pussy. I didn't know where to get me a Pocket-Pussy in that town, but I knew I could buy one off Gary Player's Web site, so we found a public library and I logged on and arranged to have one sent to me Pro Boner in a City Yet to Be Mentioned and I felt the pink glow of Accomplishment, motherfucker. It's great to have Connections. Everything in Business is Negotiable except Quality. That's one of the goddamn Ten Commandments. This Land is your Land. Knock yourself out.
My entire Life was one big DWI headed South down I-95 and bub, if you can do Better, well do it, or Fuck YOU. We'd stop at Rest Areas for Nassir to look for Plunkett in the Bathrooms and then just keep going. I had no excuse. When your life as you knew it is ending, you Run.
Harriet, Sally, Monica and Marcie, Bev and Zoe, Richard Harris. Fuck This World, Duckbill.
Bill Pullman kept calling up on the Phone in the stolen Car and saying, "Marcus Reuhl is dead," real cryptically, like the lyrics from some song on the radio about The Wizard of Oz. I had HAD it, man. I was broke, but I was GOING for it, too. And I was all of a sudden a Great Man. And let me share something with you, Mother Goose. The heights of Great Men reached and Kept were not attained by Sudden Flight, but that while their Companions slept were toiling Upward in the Night. Like my poetry? I WROTE that, Shammy Cloth. Doesn't make sense? Well, call up Gary Player for a Highcastle Pocket-Pussy and shut the FUCK up. I've been Toiling Upward in the Night while people slept for YEARS, man. So I'd never miss the sunrise. Because the Fox fears not the Motherfucker who bullshits by night but the Cocksucker who's up Early in the Morning, drunk on generic Scope, ready to Unleash the Hounds. Make a note of that. It'll come in handy when you don't know what the fuck to do with yourself.
I'm just trying to share with your stupid ass the Wisdom I attained in those Years. And have YOU accepted Mario Lemieux as your Lord and Savior? If you died Tonight, Where would you Go? Well, if you can Ream it, you can Become it. I did. It says that in the Bible, son. I thought I was a whore's slutroom in Monmartre, too.
Good EVENING, West Virginia. Glad to have you with us, Vermont. And I'll tell you something, Seattle: when at last you Start to Die, You'll miss Everyone you've Ever Known. The way the sleet comes down in the coffee and beer of that shithole Portland. The sordid and tawdry effluvium of a Land Barfing on Itself. On a World. Telling itself it's getting it's fucking Rocks Off in a poem by some dude who was addicted to Laudanum and died of TB at the age of 25. I'd like to Thank the Academy. And God.
Where does all the Evil at the Core of the World live? In your own heart. Dontcha just LOVE being human.
Nassir jumped out the window of the car driving 90 down the Interstate, and I just kept on drivin'. Demons hit my windshield like bugs but didn't die, and just stayed there squirmin' around. My cash wasn't good enough credit to buy gas. And the bitches still muff-dived in Boston.
Do you really think the world gives a good motherFUCK about you? Do you really think people spend their time THINKING about YOU? Do you still give a hearty godDAMN? Well, Breir Fox, I used to CARE. But things have changed.
What's the name of the Pig in that book about the Spider? Well, you're right. And he's primed to eat your guts, Boy. Blow that trumpet. The Saints are Marchin' In. The tar pits of La Brea are giving up their Dead. The mountains of Wyoming are turning into Sperm. The Everglades of Florida are kudzu in Brazil. We're all drunk bald fat men bragging about how we'll never surrender. The icecaps are melting, and another nigger's come is in your bitch's pussy. It's a Dog-eat-Dog world, and all the Dogs are God. And God is not too fucking thrilled with the way you're speeding in a 25 mph School Zone. And if you don't LIKE it, if you think you can BEAT me, if you can outWRITE me, well, the blank paper is yours. Go write your OWN Great American Novel, you sorry Bag of Shit. Accept the advice of the man who loves you, though you Like it Not at Present. And even if he DOESN'T love you, take his advice and shut the FUCK up.
We took a veer to the west and suddenly I knew where to go.
And incidentally, after your Final Exam, I will go to the End of the Earth and I will leave you there. You want to be saved? Find someone to Save you. I walked the Earth. I crossed America. I wrote 2,000 words a day and cut half of them out for the sake of your Children. I was warm. I was WARM, Brother. It was almost Easter and no, I don't want to cornhole you, buddy, I just need a place to Put out my Cigar.
Good God. Good GOD I'm sweating. I'd worked for this, it seemed, for YEARS. And I was about to find what I was looking for. Not in a prayer. Not in a dream. And not up a jacked-off fantasy. We all need Someone we can Lean On.
And there is no Substitute for Personal Contact.
1. The narrator's failure to explain the precipitating circumstances for his or other characters' actions has been called "An example of anti-Newtonian Causation." Discuss.
2. Why does the narrator want to fight Luke Primo? How can this reason be seen as the "catalyst" for all his actions in Parts 3 and 4? You had better be good.
3. Discuss the role of Nursery Rhymes in the work.
4. DON'T discuss the role of Nursery Rhymes in the work.
5. It has been suggested that "The narrator is hallucinating the entire book." Agree or disagree. What does it mean to hallucinate?
6. Which hockey player is YOUR Lord and Savior? Why?
7. Discuss the juxtaposition between Benny Poda and Jesus.
8. Find 3 phrases or allusions that are repeated throughout the work. How do they shed light on the meaning of the Work as a Whole? Elaborate.
9. Which chapter is the "pivot" of the work? Explain.
10. What is the Main Theme of the Work? Support your answer with examples from the Text.
11. Chapter 28 has been called "anti-climactic" by many scholars. Not yet having Read it, why would you say the Closure HAS to be anti-climactic, in context? Write. Write.
12. What Time Period do the Years encompass? See Question 5. Scholars are rift over the question: is it 17 years, 3 years, more years, 1 year, or No Years at All? How does the work's difficult chronology affect the narrator's broken-down Subaru in New Hampshire? Elaborate, or go write your OWN Great American Novel.
OK! Send your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org to be considered for inclusion in The Benny Poda Years Critical Edition, to be taught in schools around America. It's been a great semester, and I'm Proud of You.