Thursday, January 04, 2007

"Gordon Didn't Abandon You. You Abandoned Him."

And I thought I'd written the longest post on the decline of Gordon Korman. Turns out I wasn't even close. This post, written last year, must be the definitive statement of Korman fans' disappointment in just about everything he's done for the last decade and a half:

"An Open Letter To Gordon Korman"

Sample excerpt, full of references that will only be recognized if you're a fellow Kormanite:

Gordon, if I were Bruno, I would long ago have been expelled by Mr. Wizzle for ranting about the sanctity of your books being threatened. If I were Bugs, my insappably blind optimism would be gone. If I were The Fish, you'd be dead of my steely glare. If I were Querada, more than just the curtains would have burned down. Of all your characters, I think only Jordy's agent would be on speaking terms with you.

We miss you. We mourn the death of a writer of great potential and his replacement by a robot, as Gramps would say. It's as if the poetry, not Gavin G. Gunhold, got runover by the trolley.

Speaking of Korman, and because I never get tired of using this blog to burn off stuff I wrote and will never get to use anywhere else, I once wrote a bunch of songs in an attempt to make a musical out of Korman's last great book, A Semester in the Life of a Garbage Bag. It never went anywhere -- I never even got to the point where it would have been worth my while to find out who owned the rights -- but here is one of the better lyrics I came up with. It's based on the scene in the book that's quoted at the link above. Raymond Jardine (the "Bruno" character) and Sean (the "Boots" character), both miserable because the girl they're both attracted to is on a date with the school's most useless jock (a guy who's just good enough to be a bench player on every school team), wallow in misery by drinking tomato juice -- which Raymond hates -- and watching a Croatian-dubbed version of Gunsmoke. Raymond's philosophy is that it's fun to be miserable, and Sean starts to come around to his way of thinking. So that's what I tried to put into the song.

Good TV and decent food
Wouldn't mesh with our mood.
Happiness must not intrude --
Let's be miserable.
(It's the only way to be.)
Silver linings, skies of blue,
Sicken me, sicken you.
We're not meant to muddle through --
Let's be miserable.
You know who,
Went out and got
You know who,
Someone's who's not
Me or you.
Now that we've missed our shot,
What can we do
But watch Croatian cable shows,
Sipping juice, counting toes,
Spilling chip-crumbs on our clothes,
Let's not lie to ourselves,
Let's just cry to ourselves,
We've got this big pig sty to ourselves,
So on with the regrets,
And let's be miserable.
(It's the only way to be.)

SEAN: You know what's scaring me, Raymond?
RAYMOND: That you agree with me.
SEAN: That, and I understand what Marshal Dillon's saying in Serbo-Croatian.
RAYMOND: The guy who dubbed Festus did a pretty good job too.

When you've failed at every plan,
Throw a fit if you can.
Take it like a girly-man --
Let's be miserable.
(It's the only way to go.)
No one needs to call the fuzz;
I'm no threat, never was.
All I want to kill is buzz --
Let's be miserable.
You know what
Caused her to fall
You know how.
And so it's all
Over now.
Now that we've dropped the ball,
Let's take a vow
To sit and watch the laundry spin,
Darkness calls, let's give in.
I can't bear it if we grin.
She won't gaze in my eyes,
I've got a mournful glaze in my eyes,
I'll sob until it stays in my eyes.
So play the shrill cassettes
And let's be miserable.
(It's the only way to --
It's the only way to --
It's the...)

Hey, is this one of the color Gunsmoke episodes?



Callaghan said...

As a dedicated desciple of Korman, I was afraid that the problem might have been with me. Thirty-one years old and I still go back and read all the early books, laughing out loud just like I did 20 years ago. But in a desperate attempt at recapturing my youth, I checked out some of his recent work and it left me cold.

Have to disagree with you about Losing Joe's Place....I thought that was his last great book. It all went downhill after that.

I actually bought his latest, Born To Rock, hoping that it might recapture past glories, but it didn't measure up. Bummer.

Son of Interflux, Don't Care High, Semester in the Life of a Garbage Bag, I Want to Go Home, No Coins Please, Beware the Fish, Go Jump in the Pool. Pure classics.

Cheerio said...

As someone who grew up reading Gordon Korman books,I rememeber the disappoinment when his later books turned out to be such junk. The "Nosepicker" series (shudder), the Sixth Grade Nickname Game... what happened to the great ones like "The Chicken Doesnt Skate" or "Son of Interflux"?! this is a guy who wrote his first book as a sixth grade writing project! its a shame to see all that talent disappear...