Thursday, March 03, 2011

#277. Jerome Charyn, Chris Jericho


Before I get to the latest Reading List book, I thought I'd take some time talking about a couple of books I recently finished, including the last selection, Jerome Charyn's Raised by Wolves.

Now, as I noted when I wrote up the listing last week, I fell into this weird confluence of Charyn and Quentin Tarantino before I became a big fan of Charyn's writing, from Johnny One-Eye, one of his most recent novels. But Charyn cast a long shadow before that one, a fact I helped acquaint myself with over the last few years, having recently added The Tar Baby and The Green Lantern to my collection (you can imagine, Theoretical Reader, knowing my affinity for the DC hero about to get his own movie, that the title alone of that last one intrigued me; alas, of course, no relation).

Anyway, I noticed a pattern the deeper I went into Charyn's backlog, and that's that Jerome likes to revisit historical figures in whimsical ways (a little of what drives Peter Ackroyd, who preceded with two books Raised by Wolves on the List, remember). Reading Wolves was like seeing an entirely different facet of him. Of course, he does present himself as both a deep scholar of Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, but less so of Jackie Brown and Kill Bill (the book was published before Grindhouse or Inglourious Basterds, so cannot comment on them), and he instead falls back on a more relaxed attitude concerning their worth, is considerably, lightly, hostile toward them, in fact. It ends up making Charyn seem less discerning and more interested in following popular trends, falling into others footsteps, as it were.

This is mildly troubling, since I'd begun viewing him as something of a kindred spirit, something that in my experience is few and far between. I had hoped he might better analyze than the norm the bulk of Tarantino's career (since that's about as much as the book amounts to), so was disappointed to read that he doesn't offer the same scrutiny to movies that are less universally loved.

I am aware of the fact that different opinions do in fact exist, and that he is free to believe whatever he wants, but to have written a book about someone might have implied that he has a more abiding interest in the subject than the average person. That simply wasn't the case, and as a result, I feel a little more alienated from an individual that I have been otherwise proud of "discovering."

Okay, so that's that. I've also recently completed Chris Jericho's latest book, Undisputed. I loved his first book (available in stores now), and I loved this one, too, but again, it was a little disturbing to learn a little too much about his general psyche. In it he reiterates his displeasure with Bill Goldberg, the WCW phenomenon only WWE could kill (he said in jest, because it was in fact WCW that thoroughly decimated him). Back in 1998, it seems, when Goldberg was in the midst of his championship run, he refused to work a straight program with Jericho, which was one of his primary motivations to eventually leave the company and sign with WWE. What Jericho has refused to acknowledge all these years is that tiny fact, that Goldberg was in fact world champion at that time. Jericho had never even sniffed the main event level at that time, and had only been with the company for two years.

It gets more and more interesting. One of Jericho's biggest idols, I'll remind you, was Shawn Michaels. HBK's singles push with WWE began roughly in 1992. He didn't become world champion until 1996, four years later. I just want to maybe suggest to Jericho (besides, be light on your feet!) that he could have been a little smarter about that situation. Okay, so I'm pleased it delivered him to WWE a year later, but if he'd smartened up then, he might have saved himself a world of trouble. He recounts his reign as undisputed champion as something of a huge failure, that one of the few bright spots was when he finally won, however briefly, the respect of Vince McMahon by, well, acting like a champion. Here's where I further suggest, given the context I've reiterated about Goldberg, that maybe Jericho might have understood why his dream push against the champion didn't happen, and he got the attitude he did...because, hell, he's really froot.

Anyhoo. I really do respect Y2J, wish him the best of luck (light on your feet!), hope he wasn't cast to be the first one voted out (again!). He just needed a little seasoning. And he got it. The book covers his WWE tenure only between 1999-2005. He would enjoy far greater success in his 2007-2010 run, becoming a legitimate world champion and main event presence. But you don't have to take my word for it.

Also, reading this one finally made me take Fozzy seriously. They're froot!

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