As more and more people have started passing through these parts I want to continue with this week's theme of "summer reading" by turning people on to some of the most original new writers, artists and degenerates I've encountered over the last couple years, both in actual life and on the information super-highway.
Now that I mentioned degenerates I think this is the perfect segway into introducing you to the world and work of Judd Trichter.
About 18 months ago Judd started a little blog called "Filth" where he began publishing weekly short stories and longer pieces that, like a small brush fire, began to burn to the point that they quickly took on cult status in Los Angeles and New York. Then a web group called Rudius Media got wind of Judd's work, might have even read a few of his stories, and decided they had to get in on the action. Like a good American Judd promptly sold out and signed with them to publish his first novel "I of The Fish," online.
This serialization of his novel online is truly an original concept even though it harkens back to the days of Dickens, (unfortunately Judd is not being paid a penny a word, but then he's an artist not a negotiator.) Since then Judd's work has been more and more widely read all over the world, and, as a result, has moved through the label of "cult," and into the label of "acclaimed," and for once, they got it right.
Most of Judd's stories and novel deal with the adventures of one Julius "Fish" Fishman, or his alter ego, Judd Trichter (who may or may not exist.) Judd/Julius is a down on his luck, broke as a joke actor and writer trying to survive in Los Angeles.
Think these are a bunch of cliched stories about a young man trying to "make it" in the big bad world? Well think again, this is just the surface. Beneath this well travelled trope is a razor sharp narrative voice combining the real, surreal and the flat out comedy of The absurd; it is also the closest picture of life in these United States in 2007 for a young man trying to survive on his talent alone that I've read anywhere. Judd's stories are laugh out loud funny social and metaphysical comedy, but never at the expense of his cutting intelligence and profound, sometimes tragic observations of trying to make a dollar out of fifteen cents and still manage to keep your soul.
There's also some great stuff about his run-in with Oprah Winfrey and her minions, but I'll leave that to him...
I want to go off about how Judd's voice harkens to influences as disparate and complex as Kafka, Hunter S. Thompson, Phillip Roth and John Fante - but I hate that name dropping stuff that seems to me to be nothing more than a lazy way of describing nothing and no one. (None the less, like a true hypocrite, I got it in, didn't I?) In fact, when I think about it now, whether Judd would agree with me or not, that is if he actually exists, I would say that Judd comes out of a long tradition of first person absurdist narratives that began with Knut Hamsun's masterpiece "Hunger," continued through Saroyan, Fante, Salinger, J.P. Donleavy, Henry Miller, and on and on. But no one is doing it better today than Judd.
So the last thing I'll say is Judd's work is a force of nature and I promise, after reading it, you will not soon forget it. But be warned, it will most probably cause instant addiction.
"I of The Fish and Other Stories" by Judd Trichter.
(by the way, would someone please e-mail me or post a comment and tell me how to set up hypertext links?)