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November 25, 2008

Book Notes - Zach Plague ("boring boring boring boring boring boring")

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that is in some way relevant to their recently published books.

Zach Plague is publisher and creative director at Featherproof Books, and boring boring boring boring boring boring is his ambitious debut novel. Combining type, artwork, and photography, Featherproof calls the book a "hybrid typo/graphic novel." The art boldly enhances the storyline in one of the year's most cleverly designed books.

The Austin Chronicle wrote of the book:

"A tragicomedy. A satire of art-world corruption, drenched in hyperbole and cloaked in the theme of wasted life. All right, groan already, but Zach Plague's Boring Boring Boring Boring Boring Boring Boring is one of the better modern satires I've read in a while, if only because it doesn't pound the reader over and over with a hammer, pestering her to accept some pithy moral. Boring doesn't even appear to have a moral; it's seemingly just a mere distraction from the boring boring – in other words, a fun read."

In his own words, here is Zach Plague's Book Notes essay for his debut novel, boring boring boring boring boring boring:

“Bored Young Things”
by Zach Plague

boring boring boring boring boring boring boring is populated by a cast of degenerate art schoolers. They are all 19. They veer from trashed apartments, to sweaty art parties, to strangers’ beds. Their lives are all bad drugs, bad sex, and bad ideas.

In the book, I give each character his or her own typeface and page design. In keeping with this, and the quick jumps from character to character, I’ve constructed my boring mixtape by having each character choose a song. I thought it would be a way to present the cast. That and I don’t have to give away my own musical tastes directly, which turns out to be a terrifying thing to do.

Virginia once slept with her cousin, an older one, from Boston. She had been young and off her medication, but she didn’t regret it. She has a genuine fear of werewolves and can only sleep with lots of bright lights on. Boyfriends continually disappoint her. But she has found that lots of things don’t matter so much if one has a lot of money. She chooses “Blood Red Bird” by Smog.

Punk is a punk named Punk. He used to be a bartender at the Snooty Fox, as well as lighting technician for the low-end rock club Snot Blocker. His line of work once got him punched so hard in the throat he fainted. But it also got him laid once. He has a gas mask collection to rival even the most fanatic WWII memorabilia collectors. He pees on people, and spits on babies. The book likes him best. He chooses “Teenage Head” by The Flamin’ Groovies.

Mortimer only wears his pressed white suit, no matter the day, no matter the weather. He is obsessed with Grover Cleveland and daily sends pitches to celebrity magazines for stories concerning the ex-president in some way. He wants to revive his celebrity. He can no longer eat cheese, as over-consumption of it, and little else, had given him kidney stones. He chooses “New Orleans” by The Silver Jews.

Margo is editrix of the local feminist rag, though she would object to it being called that, doubly. She has survived a childhood with an absent father, and nearly-always-topless mother, and has come out the other end swinging. She likes motor-sports but not dykes, lace but not dresses, and death but not weapons. She chooses “Hunter” by Bjork.

Ollister’s face is a slippery slope, the prow of a rich and merciless pirate ship. He is in shadow. He’s the protagonist of boring boring. He constructs an Art Terrorist cell, only to abandon it, only to be abducted by it. He tries to seduce Adelaide with misdirection and much posturing, and finally, a sex drug. He chooses “Werner’s Last Blues to Blokbuster” by Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy. Given his central nature to the book, I say he gets two picks: “Party for the People of the Open Wound” by Knife in the Water.

Matilda writes things on her hands all day while working at the Velveteen Gallery. She uses those same hands to masturbate violently and paint pictures of her cat, PuppySurprise. One time her boyfriend took her car to pick up a friend and crashed it, killing both himself and, metaphorically, the car. Matilda was more upset about the car because it never cheated on her, farted under the covers or laughed at her French shoes. She chooses “Killiecrankie” as sung by Jean Ritchie.

Brody was a child prodigy until the age of 13 when, having been caught shoplifting in Saudi Arabia while vacationing there with his parents, an overzealous shopkeeper had cut both his thumbs off, ending his precocious thieving career. The incident also destroyed his dreams of becoming a photographer. However, thumbs were not necessary to squeeze tubes of frosting, and he has since become one of the top cake decorators in the region. He also likes camping. He chooses “Great Ghosts” by The Microphones.

Adelaide reminds everyone of everyone they’ve ever loved. She traces spider-webs in the night air with her fingers. She drives recklessly, and stoned. She pines for her lost anti-love affair with Ollister, watches the stars. She hugs bartenders. She throws vampire birthday parties. She is the heroine of boring boring. In part three, she tries the drug everyone has been waiting for. She chooses “Crow Jane” by Skip James. Or maybe: “Easy to be Around” by Diane Cluck. Sometimes it’s hard to decide.

Paolo’s house is empty. It isn’t that he is too cheap to buy furniture or that he has some strictly minimalist aesthetic. Possessions just haven’t happened to him yet. It is clean, though, and that encourages his girlfriend to stay over more, even if his mattress is saggy and they spend all sweaty night long pressed together by gravity. He calls her “Trucker” in private, and she does not know what exactly he does at work all day. He chooses “Run Through the Jungle” by Creedence Clearwater Revival.

Zella is into romance: distilled, plasticized, or sparkly. She obsessively collects gemmed or bedazzled clothing, snow globes from around the globe, and used glow sticks from Halloweens long gone by. She plays xylophone in an experimental all-metal new-thrash art band. Her grandfather has an old maritime tattoo of tits on his bicep, pale and lonely green. She loves him but hates all his children. One of them gave her that stupid name. She chooses “Horses” by Vidi Vitties.

July is a reformed prima donna. No less than three indie rock records have been dedicated-to/used-to seduce her. After an accident at the cookie bakery where she works singed her eyebrows off, she began her studies in humility and selflessness. Her girlfriends blanched as she threw out clothes, make-up, phone numbers. She stopped shaving her armpits and began to eat fast food on public transportation. She feels mostly restless these days. She chooses “Learning” by The End Of The World.

Theodora is a darling sock collector. Both the socks and herself, darling. She tones it down a bit to go watch underground street fighting matches, or spy on porno casting call lines. She works at a coffee shop and doesn’t much care for anyone. She chooses “Darling Be Home Soon” by The Lovin’ Spoonful.

Zach Plague and boring boring boring boring boring boring links:

the author's website
the author's design site
the author's book tour
the book's website
the book's MySpace page
free e-book of the novel
Goodreads profile of the author
audio excerpt at Poets & Writers
audio excerpt at Weirddeermedia
excerpt at 55 Words
excerpt at The Drill Press
excerpt at M Review
excerpt at Six Sentences
excerpt at THE2NDHAND
excerpt at Thieves Jargon

{ feuilleton } review
Austin Chronicle review
Blogcritics review
Daily Candy review
Notes on Design review
Publishers Weekly

AIGA interview with the author
Books I Done Read review
Chicago Artists Resource interview with the author
Chicago Reader review
East Bay Express profile of the author
Eight Forty-Eight interview with the author
Newcity Chicago profile of the author
Pilcrow Lit Fest interview with the author
THE2NDHAND interview with the author

also at Largehearted Boy:

Previous Book Notes submissions (authors create playlists for their book)
Online "Best Books of 2008" Lists
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Why Obama (musicians and authors explain their support of the Democratic presidential candidate's campaign)
guest book reviews
musician/author interviews
directors and actors discuss their film's soundtracks
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2008 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2007 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2006 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2005 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2004 Edition)

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