Feathery observations on The End of It All.
Veteran culture warhorse/novelist/rock critic/essayist/poet Meltzer (The Night [Alone], 1995, etc.) is playful with the language (you must give him that), and he can make you laugh (ditto). Meltzer clearly has much fun swinging wildly with his rhetorical bludgeon, breaking cultural taboos like so many piñatas. But, ultimately, what can you say about a poet who composes verse about his penis or pens such lines as “His life was like a fart”? What can you say about an essayist who sprinkles his text with neologisms (and no-logisms) like “fuckadoodle,” “doodooheads,” and “bearzy-wearzy”? Who claims that jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker was the greatest musician ever to record a note? What can you say about a son who writes, “My father was almost dust before he stopped being a world-class asshole”? Who records in grim detail an explicit dream he had about having sex with his mother and reproduces lengthy transcripts of conversations with her in her dotage? Who congratulates himself on having “slipped the sausage to Helen Wheels”? Who writes about a box containing the shit of God? Who seems determined to offend as many people as he possibly can, especially those who think seriously about everything he takes lightly? Oh, sure, Meltzer lands a few punches, zapping conspiracy theorists and parents who pound into their little children the bleak notions of hell and damnation. Even wild swingers occasionally connect. But just when you think the author has found his rhythm, just when you begin to consider taking him seriously, he offers up some half-baked, repellent, reeking concoction and invites you to eat it blindfolded. Finally, there isn’t much to say about a writer who invites his readers to take some of his ashes (post-mortem, we presume) and rub them in our “filthy fat butt.”
Fails to register on the scale of substance.