Wednesday, April 25, 2007

"The Royal Nonesuch" by Glasgow Phillips

"The Royal Nonesuch" by Glasgow Phillips, a memoir.

Th question, sometimes put as "what do you want to do with your life?", sometimes put more directly as "ok, so what do I do now?" is something that we all face at one time or another. Working class kids tend to face it sooner because life forces them to choose before people who go to college, but everyone experiences the kind of tension that happens when expectations run out and you're forced on your own to choose the kind of life that you want. Or, probably more accurately, find some sort of life that you can live with.

After college ends you find yourself confronting the big absence in your life of any sort of plan.

Glasgow Phillips wrote a book in the last year of his undergraduate studies, then went to the Stanford Writers workshop for an MFA, then dropped out, moved to Austin for a while, ostensably to write his next novel. But during his time in Austin he didn't get all that much writing done, and instead he became a lot closer to friends from high school who were working in the broad area of independant animation and films. He moves to L.A. and helps start up a company whose aim is to provide an outlet to independant film makers, with the goal of creating a cable channel featuring them, and get involved with one scheme after another. Hilarity ensues. Is involved with South Park through friends and merchandising. Helps put together an independant film festival at Sundance for three years. Makes an imitation snuff film that never airs.

The main strength, besides the interesting things that he does, is the fact that the voice and the point of view is something that people under 45 can identify with. Usually memoirs are either dry as dust or they refer to things that people who are less than middle age can't really get, not because of any weakness on their part but just because they haven't had the shared experiences that these people have had.

When I read "The Royal Nonesuch" I felt like here at last was someone that I could identify with, who was talking about things that were in my experience and who was coming to it from a point of view which was at least similar to my own. I had the same experience reading Gary Shteyngart's novel "The Russian Debutante's Handbook". If it comes down to reading another book about the glory days of the sixties and seventies and reading something like this I'd take this any day of the week.

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