jPay message #171

I just finished Jess Walters’ “Beautiful Ruins”, which is probably the best book I have read all year. I consider myself a well-read guy, English major, and all, having read around 250 books since I’ve been down, but somehow, I had never heard of jess walter until about a month ago. Literally, one of the best writers alive: topical, hilarious, poignant.

anyways, one of the themes of the book is fame and all its attendant trappings, as it knits together a plot from disparate elements and places, from present-day Hollywood to 60s Italy and 00s Edinburgh (Richard Burton is a character). And the last chapter is some of the best writing I’ve ever encountered, mapping out how all these chance encounters with total strangers have life-changing ramifications on all these people, and how, for some of us at least, our end is inherent in our beginnings. One character feels destined for fame (he sort of is), but only manages to become a middling success of a musician whose drug abuse both fuels his creative output and derails his personal life. In the social media era, this commentary on the desire for fame has only grown more incisive.

I mean, it’s no secret that we all endlessly edit our social media accounts to depict us in the best possible light so as to get as many likes as possible. hell, I’ve had no contact with Facebook or Instagram for over two years and I can still feel its pull, see how it alters other’s perceptions. I really don’t have much of an idea how or who reads these posts. (ironically, I’ve probably gotten the most positive response since I’ve been locked up).

I don’t know if it’s just delusions of grandeur hatched in a drug-addled brain, but when I work out, I’ll imagine myself–headphones on full blast–as part of some sort of workout sequence in a movie or tv show, as the camera slowly zooms out as I finish my run. Similarly, a hang-up I had in the past about writing and possibly getting some recognition, was the thought that, damn, won’t I be embarrassed by x, y, or z? But just the fact I am in prison for serious drug crimes that I committed accidentally convinced me that I can no longer afford the luxury of embarrassment. Hence, why I shared my inspirational workout montage idea. My life will just be on full-frontal display.

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