What's Wrong with Jay McInerny is what's wrong with the rest of America — but it's not what you think

I’m in the midst of reading Richard Powers’s new novel, GENEROSITY: AN ENHANCEMENT. I’m a big fan of Powers’s work, and despite some not so great (and in my mind kind of ill-conceived) reviews, I’m liking it a lot so far. Jay McInerny reviewed the book in the Times Book Review this week, and I was surprised by his statement in the “upfront” section. Continue reading

My Most Humble Request: An Open Letter to Ms. Angelina Jolie & Mr. Brad Pitt

My Dear Ms. Jolie and Mr. Pitt:

Greetings from your most humble and adoring fan. Let me please, first of all, and however belatedly, congratulate you on the additions to your very large and growing family. How many is it now? Six? Goodness you are most blessedly rich and fecund. Surely eight will not be enough. Surely you will want to have more! Perhaps you shall have more?

As a father myself, I understand the joys of children and the great weight of responsibility they will bring upon your house and upon you as a couple, and how you will now and then wish to exterminate them cruelly.

I recommend you not do this. Those feelings will pass.

Yes, my friends, I know. I have experienced these feelings myself and found the strength to rise above them. Continue reading

Best freakin' coffee on the planet

I’ve never been a fan of Starbucks coffee—their caffeine, yes, their coffee, no—and so herewith I offer you the chance to try the most freaking awesome coffee on the planet. I’ve never been a big fan of dark roast, and dark roast seems to have proliferated ever since the global expansion of Starbucks. But there’s way better coffee awaiting your discerning palate. Continue reading

So you're going to have a colonoscopy

Fear not. This is a good thing.

I had, post my diagnosis with ulcerative colitis somewhere ca. 1987-88, something like 15 colonoscopies, and so I speak with a certain level of experience on the matter.

In the early days, before the advent of industrial strength bowel cleansing agents, you had to start the “prep” a couple of days prior with nothing but broth and Jell-O and clear liquids. Then, the night before, you had to have a bottle, maybe two, of magnesium citrate. Then in the morning, you had to use a Fleet enema.

Good prep is important. If you screw it up, then you have to start all over again.

The thing to keep in mind is that the prep is the hardest part. The first time I ever had one of those four-liter jugs of purgative, I had heard from a friend that it was horrible. I mixed the stuff up and sat down to drink it. The first cup wasn’t so bad. The second cup was a little less so, and by the 20th or so, I had developed a deep loathing for the stuff.

It pretty much works as advertised, which is to say that you finish it up by about 7 p.m., you’re purged by 11 p.m. It’s pretty much entirely unpleasant, but likely way less unpleasant than dying of cancer.

It wasn’t until about my second-to-last colonoscopy that I discovered a way to make the prep a little less unpleasant. I asked my doctor, “Is gin a clear liquid?” He laughed and said, “I suppose so.” And so when I did my prep, I’d have a cup of the purgative, and then a gin chaser. Didn’t make the Go-Lytely taste any better, but it sure did make things seem a little bit less dreary, and perhaps even humorous.

And if you’re a coffee drinker, as I am, you’re going to have a massive headache by the time you have your colonoscopy, but I’d say don’t worry about a hangover. The whole thing about those Go-Lytely-type purgatives is that they’re designed to clean you out without robbing you of electrolytes. I have no idea whether the gin screws with that. But I’m not suggesting downing the whole bottle.

This is not intended as medical advice. Your own doctor may not see gin the way mine did. Anyway, be happy you have a colon, and not a diseased one. Before it was removed, mine looked, on the screen during flexible sigmoidoscopies and colonoscopies like a pizza with the cheese torn off. Which tends to make the whole thing, from purging to the actual “procedure” a lot more painful. If you have a healthy colon, it should be painful at all.

One more thing, though. If they offer you the chance to be out for the whole thing, take it.

And one other more thing: they use air to inflate your colon when they scope it, so afterward, you will be passing that air right back out. No big deal. It can even be kind of funny.


Are we in a narrative if we don't know we're in a narrative?

As is often the case with the web, I stumbled across this clip while looking for someone else (or nothing at all, really; just surfing–but surfing implies some sort of deliberation or volition, and there was none here. There should be another word for this: lolling in the waves. Which is of course not a word.). In this clip, Jonathan Franzen talks about the general irrelevance of the novelist to American culture at large. My first thought was not to agree with him. And while in a certain sense, I don’t agree with him, I have to agree that, sure, “no one, outside of a very small circle in New York, could care less about what Philip Roth thinks about the Iraq war.” Continue reading