Michael DeCapite at Telephone

Michael DeCapite at Telephone

by J.D. Oxblood

Last night I stumbled into the Telephone Bar on Second Avenue and discovered that there was a reading series happening in the back room. A true masochist, I decided to check it out.

The first reader was a pleasant surprise. Michael DeCapite read from his book THROUGH THE WINDSHIELD, an outright hilarious piece describing a conversation between two men; one of them has been recommended, by his father, to move into a Veterans retirement home—at the age of 31. DeCapite read smoothly, charismatically, and in a move of programming genius had the audience rolling with laughter for the first 15 minutes. Then he moved into the heavy stuff, a couple of pieces from another novel that described the pain and regret of two blown marriages, told in an almost poetic style. He was naked on the stage, and the audience was rapt.

The moderator got up to announce the next reader, and said that DeCapite’s novels were almost impossible to find because they haven’t been published. (Upon interview, this turned out not to be true. He self-published THROUGH THE WINDSHIELD, and you can probably still find it on Amazon.) “But our next reader,” she exclaimed, “has published several books.” The next reader (name withheld; I don’t want to give any accidental publicity) proceeded to not only put the audience to sleep, but almost put herself to sleep in due course. She tried to pack an entire book into a half hour performance by reading a small section, then explaining to us what happened next, then reading another section. It was a truly abysmal reading, and as for the writing itself… yawn. Prosaic, pedestrian, walks with a limp. The story would barely hold my attention as a five-minute anecdote over a whiskey; the details lacking, the characters stick figures. Oh, and it was told from a man’s point of view — unconvincingly.

My point? The guy who can WRITE can’t get arrested. DeCapite’s prose, far from the lean, muscular prose that usually gets my blood up, is heavy, bludgeoning, with the grace of a 250 pound running back who can evade an entire defensive line. His deft turns of phrase continuously catch me off guard, and the writing is that rarest thing in a world of cocksure authors — revealing. Turns out that after self-publishing THROUGH THE WINDSHIELD, DeCapite SOLD OUT THE RUN. Which is to say, there is, actually, believe it or not, a market for such fiction, and, therefore, money to be made off of it. Not that anyone with less than a 9mm could convince the publishing/agenting industry of such blasphemy.

I know, I know, most of you out there in blogoland think that I’m a hater, a whiner, a kid pissing my pants. But, then again, many of you think that the mean-spirited drivel I post on this site is WRITING. I don’t cry for the DeCapite’s of this world. They’ll survive — their understanding of the world and their continuous search for meaning in it will lead them through a life with its own rarified rewards. I cry for you. I cry for everyone out there — and those not yet born — who will never know what great writing sounds like in the 21st century. How can you, when the best books out there have no chance of being published?

Kiss kiss,