A friend to some of us here at 3quarks, Tom Bissell, has garnered himself a very nice write-up indeed for his excellent new book of short stories, God Lives in St. Petersburg. Bissell co-wrote (with Jeff Alexander) what is one of the funniest and cleverest pieces in recent McSweeney’s history (barring our own rather brilliant J.M.Tyree’s essay about the implausability of the trash compactor in Start Wars) about Chomsky and Zinn giving their commentary to The Fellowship of the Ring. Here’s a fragment:
Zinn: Of course. “The world has changed.” I would argue that the main thing one learns when one watches this film is that the world hasn’t changed. Not at all.
Chomsky: We should examine carefully what’s being established here in the prologue. For one, the point is clearly made that the “master ring,” the so-called “one ring to rule them all,” is actually a rather elaborate justification for preemptive war on Mordor.
About God Lives In St. Petersburg, Pankaj Mishra writes:
“Bissell writes prose here as vivid and forceful as anything in his first book. The short story seems to be the right form for him; he artfully expresses the emotions stirred up by his own forays into the world outside America. The narrator of “Chasing the Sea” was edhy and garrulous, if always engaging. In “God Lives in St. Petersburg,” Bissell reveals himself to be not only a subtle craftsman but also a mordant observer of a new generation lost in a complex world.”