Hanging out on Mike's Corner -

The Proliferation Of The Written Word

by Benjy Eisen

I'm sitting here, well, really I'm laying here, but here I am.

And I feel like an amroped hockey player playing hooky, because I have just read _Mike's Corner_ a new, er, book from Michael Gordon. It is a book which either is filled with metaphors or is institutionally opposed to them, depending on who you believe (The Baltimore Herald or The Baltimore Tribune). Personally I believe neither. But I do believe in my own reaction to this collection of short stories: My reaction? Anything but allergic. I would say that "It made me laugh, it made me cry" but the truth is it didn't - I didn't cry. I did laugh though. Alot.

Laughing to _Mike's Corner_ is alot like laughing to a Kurt Vonnegut novel: You laugh because you know that you are only laughing at yourself and the world in which you live. You laugh because it hurts too much to cry. You laugh also because, more often than not, you know that the author and his stories are full of shit. (Literally - count how many times the word "poop" appears in the story "The Party") It is a good poop though. Some might even go so far as to say it is a *relieving* poop - a refreshing flushing down the toilet of everything that we thought was Great Literature and it leaves us looking in the mirror with our bladders emptied, realizing that verbal language is, after all, just sounds. Words. Words, words, words: It's all just words in the end. Words like "Amrope" and "Zonticuddy." Words like "Hobbs Snowman," "Alfred Buggyboo," and "Mrs. Cosmo McPhim."

That is not to say that _Mike's Corner_ is just a random slew of words mixed with other words. It is not. Rather, just like Henry Miller did with _Tropic of Cancer_, it is a whole new way of adjusting language to the world around us. Our world is about to burst with techno-babblists, droidnoids, and hudgy-pudgys; We are surrounded by cyber-injected farce, hollow-shelled antica and attention deprivation crusades. _Mike's Corner_ becomes a refreshingly frank mirror through which the stories recognize this modern world, come to terms with it, reflect it, and ultimately nourish it.

Whereas an author like Douglas Copland explores, through narrative, the fabrication of our current society, Mike Gordon fabricates the fabrication and, in doing so, takes the reader on a fast wheeling, madcapped journey. It is a journey much like the one Mike and his bandmates in Phish take their listeners on. It is a journey that, although driven by an insane-like rationale, is fueled only by underlying truth.

So what is my final verdict? Well, not every book can be a "_Zonticuddy_," but it sure beats the hell out of "_College Rimshot_"

Rating: *****

Walk with light my friends, Benjy

BTW, for those planning on reading _Mike's Corner_, I have but the following bit of advice: Try not to look for the *meaning* so much as the *experience*.