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The Turn of the Screwed

2,543 words

Delicious Tacos
Finally, Some Good News
Amazon Kindle, 2018

Charlie [grabbing the laptop from Alan]: “Come on, let’s see what floats your boat. . . grannies with trannies? Chickens with strap-ons? [Studies screen, look of horror] My God, you sick freak! My own brother! Online dating?” [1] [1]

Big bottom, big bottom
Talk about mud flaps, my girl’s got ’em
Big bottom drive me out of my mind
How could I leave this behind? [2] [2]

I don’t know what Charles Bukowski would think of a writer calling himself “Delicious Tacos,” but I think he would approve of the writing itself; I certainly do, and you definitely should expose yourself (the metaphor is creepily appropriate on many levels) to the work of an author who describes himself as [3] “no more significant than an insect. Author of the novel Finally, Some Good News, and the collections Savage Spear of the Unicorn, The Pussy and Hot Naked Tits.”

Although written more than two years ago, the post-apocalyptic Finally, Some Good News — no need for a spoiler alert, the vaguely obscene rendering of a mushroom cloud is right there on the cover — is surprisingly prescient; it’s the perfect reading material as we hunker down to hide from the plague and, in America at least, rioting joggers [4] and birdwatchers [5].

In fact, that’s pretty much how our self-published author chooses to summarize the book online: “Two birdwatchers survive a nuclear holocaust.”

It is indeed a relatively short book, readable in an afternoon (as Henry James would say, “the dear, the blessed nouvelle!” [3] [6]) yet with a pleasingly intricate structure.

DT, as I’ll call him, weaves together three narratives, or “arcs” as the Breaking Bad fans like to say, [4] [7] which track the components of his shitty life.

What do I have, he thought. The car. Some guitars. What else. My bike got stolen by the citizen offspring of undocumented whatever you call them now. Rent sixteen grand a year, shit not bolted down always stolen instantly. Like a doughnut on the beach snatched by seagulls. A laptop. An Xbox One with a used copy of The Witcher 3, which replaced a wife or girlfriend. 20 grand cash. 8 grand in credit card debt that had been charged off by the bank for two years now. That he’d been paying down 1% and 1% and 1% to keep Bank of America — actually Banc of America, their credit card division, from suing him. Garnishing wages. After paying 8 grand I owe $13,000 on a $16,000 car. If I pay a grand a month I’m out in about a year. Then hack away at the charge card. Call your creditor, Suze Orman told him. Ask to negotiate up to 50% off by offering one lump sum. They said fuck off.

As you can see, money plays a great role in one’s shitty life; hence, the first strand, work, which, at least in the modern world, is a soul-destroying whirlwind in which everyone is selling something to some other salesman [8]:

Yes, I hate my work. And I’m afraid of losing it. They get angry if you’re not thankful for it. That’s a bad attitude. You have to lie every day, every minute, and say you love the thing that’s killing you. It’s Satanic. The men are all liars. The women are barely people anymore. I’m barely a person anymore. I’m starting to like it. I’m starting to feel proud when I close a deal. To sell branded entertainment. To sell Verizon to fucking moms — it’s all like this. Everything exists just to sell you shit and you have to sell shit too just to live and they make you fucking smile about it.

Some passages on work call to mind the Bukowski of Post Office or Factotum; [5] [9] perhaps even Celine on the assembly line:

Except for school and a few months here and there he’d worked since fourteen. Farmhand on a cranberry bog. House painter. Laborer scraping pipes on a ladder on a scaffolding. 90 degree heat, face by a fan with sharp blades that sucked up every fume for miles. Brain damage. Body damage. Assembly line at a candle factory. Short order cook. Door to door salesman. Telemarketer. Register at a drug store in a neighborhood filled with Soviet Bloc Jewish elderly yelling and yelling about the flyer not applying to 32 oz. vs. 48 oz. Sunsweet Prune Juice with a Hint of Lemon. Views on Hitler softening. $4.25 an hour. Minus taxes. Janitor. [6] [10]

The shipping warehouse was biblical. A million cubits high. So big there was haze in the distance. He was a temp. Third shift was an experiment. Keep working 24 hours. 9 PM to 5 AM he stuck UPS labels on boxes packed with Yankee Bayberry Everflame™ Jar Style his coworkers picked from scaffolding racks that leaned over and gave you vertigo. You could feel the electricity that ran the conveyor belt in the nerves of your arms. Next to him a man pulled a lever over and over that dropped styrofoam peanuts from a hanging bag the size of a high school gym. Labels were a cake job except one or two hours a night, when a guy up the line screamed CANADA and you had to start reading the tiny address as the box rushed by. Three provinces need an extra sticker. Housewives sell each other candles in places like Yellowknife where babies die from blackflies. If he fucked up and forgot the sticker one more time one of the guys on truck said he’d kill him. He’d done 20 years for murder. Six dollars an hour.

One night Mark, the manager, called the whole warehouse to sit in a circle. They’d succeeded. So productive the company made third shift permanent. As such half of you will be let go in four weeks. Anyone talking about layoffs will be fired immediately. I know this is hard news. Also, second shift packed 5,000 unicorn votive stands with no bubble wrap. This product is genuine glass. Before we start on quota we’ll take them out and repack.

You can buy James O’Meara’s book Green Nazis in Space! here. [11]

The second strand is the narrator’s attempts to solve the universal problem of how to get a second date, [7] [12] forget about marriage and a family. Work pays for internet access, which enables computer dating and provides an answer to the first question, “what do you do?” [13]

I have to work to pay to work to get a woman’s attention so she can reject me. Love is impossible. A house, a wife — a second date, impossible. Normal things. I’ll never hold my first child.

25 years after Office Space [14], even marrying a shrew is no longer on the table, to say nothing of dating Jennifer Aniston. After the inevitable, cringeworthy disasters, on and offline, work pays for porn as well. And work also pays for sex tourism, a barely more satisfactory alternative.

In the states these girls would have you arrested for swiping right. Here they told you about lives on hot islands no one had heard of. Coconut orchards stretching to the white beach. Palm huts blown away by typhoons. The other men were 60. Collected pensions. Drank cheap beer in the heat until nighttime when they’d roll around in giant soft hotel beds with high school age girls out of the “escape” section of Bridge Over the River Kwai. They were the unhappiest people he’d ever seen. It was monsoon season. Between rains he’d see their eyes in puddles like his own death.

These themes — work, online dating, and sex tourism — are brought together and resolved in a most unexpected way in the post-apocalyptic arc; as it turns out, his job, to “give information to people who want to sell things,” will finally provide the opportunity to leave everything behind (Al-Quaeda is, after all, “just a name for the believers to work under [. . .] a brand.”).

The Right’s white male loser narrative is given, for once, an additional turn; as if Dostoyevsky’s Underground Man set off a premature Russian revolution, or one of Patrick Bateman’s victims had been about to tip off the FBI to 9/11.

Indeed, this ironic convergence is symbolized by the moment when our narrator attempts to get the attention of a DHS call center employee, just as burned-out and distracted by his own online dating app.

His job had not resulted in a single arrest. Terror busts didn’t come from incall business. They came from FBI agents asking mentally challenged men if they’d like to participate in terror plots. Arresting them when they said yes. He had job security. Room for growth. He earned a pension. It could start paying out in 35 years.

Never message a white woman with bright color hair, he remembered. Green means polyamorous. Pink means transsexual game designer. Blue means Type II bipolar disorder, but even they can’t talk about anything but your fucking job. What if this guy’s right? Well, how could I leave all this behind?

Indeed, DT is quite happy to leave it all behind:

He woke up thinking he was late. Then remembered. There had been a nuclear holocaust.

Thank God, he thought.

Then he felt bad. Millions dead. Millions more burned, Irradiated. Trapped even now, lungs half crushed choking on smoke. Pinned in flaming rubble. Can’t even scream, and if they did — who would come.

Still. It felt like a snow day.

This kind of cynicism — perhaps tricked out as “accelerationism” — might shock normies, but it’s common enough in Dissident Right literature. [8] [15] Here’s where DT really breaks out: although there are some red-pilled themes — “sex roles persist,” we read on the same page — he rejects (with extreme prejudice) attempts to either “rebuild what we had” or join up with the new Lord Humungous that are offered to him. After all, the dystopia is now (or, I guess, back here); the apocalypse already happened long ago.

I was alone already. I was sad before this. What I had to lose I lost already. I was a fucking failure. I lived alone with my cat and a dog killed him. And I fucking had to apologize to my neighbors for abusing the dog after. My therapist told me. I do want them to be dead. I should have crucified that dog. I was trying to be a better person. It was a fucking mistake.

You can’t stop it now, said Fritz. And if you could, you wouldn’t anyway. I mean do you look at this fucking place and think: how could I leave this behind?

For a moment, I thought he was going for a Planet of the Apes ending, but instead, the ending is built around a call-back to a rather well-known Harlan Ellison story (another misanthrope) while also cleverly tying the story right back to the first page.

As mentioned above, the book takes on an eerie kind of prescience; apart from birdwatching, lockdowns and social distancing magnify the anomic workplace and dating scene of the book, and of course, there’s plenty of looting at gun shops and big-box stores. Perhaps we will find out that a Chinese DT was behind the Wu Flu.

Throughout, Decameron-like, other stories that the narrator has told are intercalated; another touch that seems now weirdly appropriate. One, actually the most connected, veers off into something that looks like an unfinished prequel series for a very minor Breaking Bad character.

Still, it should, and can, be read for its own literary pleasure, which is quite a lot. DT is not a one-trick pony, no matter how well performed that trick may be. In the post-apocalyptic arc, he sometimes falls into an almost Ray Bradbury tone of future-wistfulness that seems natural rather than parodic:

Air mostly still and cold but once in a while a shrieking hot wind would spin the dead leaves, send them clattering against the concrete. It carried burned magazines. Excel printouts, emails marked HIGH IMPORTANCE. The pages spiraled around and hissed against the walls in the dark.

Or, with a bit of a harder edge:

He had to smash the Flame Broiler Teriyaki Bowl’s glass sliding door with a jack handle. The gas main had ruptured and the customers and cashiers burned alive, still smoking along with the griddle top beef and broccoli. A little blue flame still whispering on the end of the metal hose by the stove.

I suppose I should note that there are two fairly graphic gang rape scenes — which are, believe it or not, relevant to the plot, providing some backstory and emphasizing the “nothing’s changed” theme — that some may find offputting, along with the generally blunt sex talk — even Bukowski might have balked at something like “his hair was going white and he had hips like an old German shepherd but the young girls still made his cum hit the headboard.” Otherwise, this is highly recommended to Counter-Currents readers, and I intend to explore the rest of DT’s output — fortunately, on the internet, no one knows you’re buying a book called Hot Naked Tits.

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[1] [18] Two and a Half Men, Season 4, Episode 15, “My Damn Stalker” (2007).

[2] [19] “Big Bottom,” Spinal Tap; produced by Michael McKean, Christopher Guest & Harry Shearer (Album: This Is Spinal Tap).

[3] [20] Inchoatus, though actually enthusiastic about the book, disagrees [21]: “My knee-jerk reaction to this slim volume was to effetely sniff, ‘Shit, hardly even a novella.’ A hold-over from my days in Academia, I suppose. Hard to flush the programming, even after all the years and Limbaugh I’d been exposed to.”

[4] [22] “Note that there’s also some character shit — a character is expected to have an ‘arc.’ This means: some trait he has in the beginning is the opposite at the end.  There is literally no way this could be visually represented by an arc, but it’s an actors’ term and actors are too stupid to understand shapes.” Delicious Tacos, “How to Write a Screenplay in Hollywood [23].”

[5] [24] Clearly a Tacos hero [13]: “But that only takes up a couple hours, the rest of the time I’m sitting on the toilet reading Charles Bukowski. He makes me feel good about not having a job. He didn’t have one a lot of the time and he still got a ton of pussy. Anyway, wanna fuck?”

[6] [25] Our narrator was actually from a reasonably well-to-do family, but his mother insisted on his working from high school on, “to learn about work.” He did learn: work sucks [26].

[7] [27] “Drones controlled from a storage locker outside Vegas precisely target tables at Yemeni weddings but the killer at the joystick can’t get a second date.”

[8] [28] Delicious, apart from his pseudonymity, refuses to explicitly ally himself with the “alt-right” or the Dissident Right, and that’s fine. He insists that all he wants to do is write about what seems true in his experience, and that’s quite right as well. There are no comical or sinister nonwhite characters (though there are plenty of Asian hookers and full-release masseuses, along with at least one Al-Quaeda operative), no ranting about the Phoenicians who control our commercialized civilization.