The Pisces
by Melissa Broder
(Hogarth Press, May 2018)

Since hocking our first loogie on a cave wall, mankind (collective puppetry art stuck its paw up) swapped mediums for the principal’s office. This decade’s catapultic wane (millions of insipid reasons later) drained the cult from culture and put the weird on golden stilts so high they fell right off the world. Quality never meant squat over content, but culture once let poets die at her feet, yanking forth the tinfoil catheter of a paycheck. That stain outgrew its saddle, rode its own stampeding gigs down to a pettier vocab. The roster of scoundrels is much less plural today, but at least a mixed metaphor proves that the necessary lubricants can be secreted—wielded even—somewhere towering above circulation, divorced thereof. Flicked right in the stunted chronos, silver-lined purses helping feign mystique for the wadding sum of babies born on campus, poets (I’m perpetually married above my station) began capitalizing off the juxtaposed etiquette of every abysmal self-help manual online (disco ball comedians). Here Melissa Broder excelled covetously, cartwheeling to fame on an ancient earthen glamour: spaying the female ankh into a dollar sign (“I could get down with the new age vibes.” — another dense, abundant lyrical koan from The Pisces, available now and forever) after a pop star (another voted in gingerbread facsimile) attempted the leap from flake to flake-who’s-read-a-book-before. Mental illness chic used to be a big secret writers survived on just long enough to leave behind a pamphlet or twenty, but, like Oscar Wilde on dastardly sedatives, Broder exposed the fellow middle managers of her craft as the sub-ocular scraps (we, they, or) papyrus fetishism in general leads to (don’t let’s spotlight everybody involved, palm by palm, for the fee of a turntable reckoning). Surpassing the coalition of socialite charm accrued across her smiled at life, Broder has proven herself an early pioneer of the forthcoming female mediocrity that will likely inspire new wave upon wave of sold-out art (her writing must really be compromised if anyone over fifteen would dare bandy about the phrase “sold out”), once the mansions start to echo too vociferously and the egg-face wears off, once the estrogenic shuffle trending proportionate with her pseudo-literate fame jumps causes. Hopefully, W.S. Merwin and a couple other nine-hundred year old gardener poets (of the accursed and since withered Dead White Males era), those who transitioned from hungry artists to comatose, supra-agented, power-wielding principals, will sit her on their casting couch in Hell. What will actually commence instead is the permanent and widespread dismissal of any degree of (misogynist! misogynist!) bother intimating one shart beyond faint praise (strap in, or on, as you prefer, ‘fore I have yet begun).

One particularly enfeebled implication my resentful and out-vaunted sex might gossip up is a hackneyed love doll reference about how every crowd takes its sloshing turn upon the false idol in question, but as this practiced bitchiness too often transpires from a brand of latent homosexuality (some superfluous men pronounce the word friend with an unintentional lisp) that can only be halted if the desired object preemptively disciplines the pursuer’s impotently pestering sputter for control (boys training themselves to be the spiteful girlfriend cast aside, crashing two-inches through the party)—is it really your fault for being so amused by their plastered antics? That is to say, these power-gaming barnacles touting clout, putting in zero work and angry their haircuts go unrewarded, the baseless, terminally defunct sadist at large: I’m begging for a chalk outline from me to him (believe it, the following rage was poked past fifty-one percent with years of a trembling CV to fumble behind). Though, at the same time, fifteen years deep, in fact, I’d rather mutter solipsistic dementias, firing my blanks into a wall, than trade abs with those who barter themselves plain. People softball the same steam blown through different heads to mine a little unrepentant happiness at the expense of so many potential crimes. Words can resurface in a vacuum, despite the vast penchant for dyspareunia. Guess the complaint department will keep clapping its dentures in juvie, smooching the safe side of a BB gun (collaborating with their masters), because no suggested threat to Broder’s professional personage would ever be literal or hilarious enough, but those lads can dream (’tis all they can do). Hysterical overreaction won’t ameliorate the issue, which is why human nature only ever receives the merest cosmetic advancement. We are trained to convert every minor threat into our own personal skywriting, and each star is held in place by jealous eunuchs. That’s why nightfall keeps happening. Besides, who cares, trolls don’t make art, they eat it and proudly hand you their scat. However, your palace-blooded, state-sponsored identity politicking temperance unions pulling over everyone’s art with a greasy siren, your boring, post-historical advertisements for a position in the human resources department, your best-selling supermodels pardoning Artaud in the middle of a mannerly finger-wag against Abu Ghraib, your gurlesque rock stars bothering Haiti on Kathy Acker’s dime, gloriously returning to inform us how the movie Watchmen has too much violence, your teacher’s lounge advocacies and virulently corn-fed social justices chorusing against bawdy jokes—charity drivers, one and all, who took the money scaled against talent and ran their quaint asses right up motherhood and into the disappointed backside of my ten-dollar bookshelf. These protest scribblings (they all dropped the pen and donned the poster board) are a connective satire of my stupidity for feeling a scarce sense of inclusion (like a good, nanny’d citizen—the future mommies of lit sure forfeited their milk to a scowling ingrate) when I should have been working, instead of turning to the insufferable (the stanzas ain’t holding up well) second page. A shrill rebuke from the Nuevo major house pressers dominates my headlines. How could this democratized blunder prolapse her beginner’s luck into a bland career and still make me feel like I’m a patchwork fizzle by comparison? Because the worst reality is always round-table true.

Writing is so difficult that, even in a successful trance, there are still levels of competence requiring one to cobble sentences excessively, but the prized line cancels its own cum (why ain’t this dummy on a tote bag?). If you want to read a hot and snappy book about being Paris Hilton in the nineteen-tens, try I Await the Devil’s Coming. It is free of lines, postmodern cackling or not, like this (and suffers no mermen): “If this was death, then death was hot.” If you, like Broder and an epic chunk of her fan base, are scared of literature overall, The Dud Avocado is a medium bimbo frolic about a celeb hanger-on traipsing (quoth Broder’s ambivalently cool fish bro: “…if you decide to traipse out to the rocks again”) through fifties Paree. Mary McCarthy is a much sharper New York scuttlebutt of the same era, daring for quality of line, not that that’s a sellable risk of late. Maude Hutchins masterfully blended art and scandal in the sixties (not to sully Ingall’s Mrs. Caliban’s popular resurgence or any Italian princes by mentioning them near Broder, and leave the Greeks be, please—I refuse to approach contemporary lit for a while after The Pisces), a genius for the ten (for now) living junkies of aesthetics, the foremost lubricious dust gatherers. Picture Marian Engel’s The Bear sharing a zipless fuck with a Prius, Erica minus the Jong. Posing as a neurotically innocent floozy, Broder is more of a professional cosmopolitan man-hating asshole baiting her way toward feminist martyrdom and a choke-fucked death by her Mr. Goodbar step-daddy coke dealer after ages of gentle provocation, pretending to have no clue as to anything her little heart desires. Her heart decaled itself some STDs during grade school, before she became conscious of how to turn it on long enough to kill every significant other in the tri-state area. Another hirable progressive twelve-stepped on buzzwords no tangible human being could muster without vomiting mid-pronunciation. She writes like a gazelle trotting backwards through the runnier end of its mating ritual, like she’s answering a comment card from her constituency line by line and the sheer volume of their schizophrenic demands pressured her to stuff a hunk of cardboard down her will. She has transformed into a grotesque of the art she once, in retrospect, was clearly spraining herself to produce. Not even electroshock could root her up a clitoris. Ambien and chocolate wrote this bank account and speciously titled it a novel. In the exalted tradition of Brad Listi via Salinger-lite via the CIA, the edgiest Burning Man participants coalesced into a literature for school marms (an outlet of forty plus girl on girl blurbs). Broder’s ugly truth: hashtags got too many holes to be a diaper.

I deem we the reader Melissa Broder’s public relations co-op, tonguing the mushrooms under her yoga mat, a press kit of white-on-white you-go-girlers puffed up on lazily requisite digs at the capitalism that has venerated us, vilified status (I have memorized the oracle George W.S. Trow: “…many white children of that day felt the power of their inheritance for the first time in the act of rejecting it, and they insisted on rejecting it and rejecting it and rejecting it, so that they might continue to feel the power of that connection.”), humming betwixt our guilt like a backup generator, scumbling Broder’s secretions up the universe from the headquarters of a magic store. Throw in some boss, encrypted Deftones lyrics, about as avant garde as Broder hoes down, The 40-Year Old Virgin (Broder sleeps her way through her rapidly approaching hot flashes) revamped badass-chick-Ghostbusters style, waxed on directly to the maidenhead. The astrological dingbat plot consists of Broder (her incorrigible depictions and snickering “I’ve never shit in a wet suit” and “The universe is a wanker” are almost, but not really, awake) single-handedly inspiring a new generation of serial killers, herself having lashed many a poor, unsuspecting frat partier to her sagging patience while appearing sociopathically amscrayed ear to ear. These guys that relish her are such incompetent bros, Kerouac bros, Bataille bros, the toxicity of foreskins, you know, what the normal dude carries around in place of a goddamn football (scores of faux-creatives abound because colleges need customers, indentured servants, and clam fodder for Mel). This numbskull should be handed an academy award every time the second Brazilian of the day reds her wings. She (snip the veil, Broder is her character, who else could she [want to] be?) should propose to former buddy writer and industry numb-nuts Justin Taylor so they can file charges together, from their yacht, until death. (I plead, bleedingly spread, to the vaunted men of yore: Sir Mix-a-Lot, we hardly knew ye! Which salad is trending, Becky?! OMG, like, Venice, you guys!—Let’s blame beatniks on the bros who stuff your mattress. We’re just along for the spermicidal ride, LOLZ!). A true fur baby madam playing Ring Around the Rosie with her diaphragm, gunning through menopausal jean shorts, missus flavor of the month lost a sucker in her clot. She’s tussled with the gym membership prices required to break a guy’s nose if he isn’t looking. She just converted her pussy into a stasis that could asphyxiate the sandman, unless the pills deign otherwise. Some artists are better Zoloft hand puppets operated by a dildo made of money. Meanwhile, this authoress is a raspberry shitsmear of Philip Roth who believes the malleable pellets excreted from her balanced, organic diet are indeed odorless. She’s kindly placed them on a plate for everyone to share and everyone is barking thank you for the recycled nutrients, myself included. Far from appalled, I lustily trough alongside competing maws, elated by the standard confessional bravery on display. The years of oppression (most oppression these days refers to how tight people’s fucking clothes feel after they’ve drifted into obesity) pinning back the clitoral trammel of her sex (according to the propaganda of Broder and her rich, overpublished like) have finally unleashed a triumphant supply of sub-par life studies, if you replace kinky verisimilitude and depth of character with airhead charm and halfwit magical realism (if a character said a Sabbath’s Theater line such as “Fuck the laudable ideologies!” she’d be out of a BMW), a yuppie romance novel with a hipster slant, slickly brilliant marketing. Beyond irony, into Mystic Pizza. A Steel Magnolias brunch. Broder should order up a student or two, when the movie deal calms down, and fuck each of them into the cutest suicide pact imaginable.

I hope to enthrone the anonymous slur someplace vulgar and baseless as the product so decried, where this eidolon, coasting on malaise, may cross swords with me inside a simile, at the peril of every toilet. If my sour grapes taste dirty, I assure you it’s just their astronomical pesticides. Take cover, I invoke Mephistopheles with all my negative sum, deep-throating a high heel to read the leaves in both our bulimia. Your writing put my pupils in a cast. I’ve come to dick rodeo bereft art back in a kennel (all males attacking female writers must have weeny pee pees, but a picture’s worth a thousand blurbs, report the offender to your gazettes), so play victim, burn all my jobs to the ground with a shrug: your entire existence is a nefarious forgery. Sorry (get ready to never hear that word again from anyone with dignity: the Internet tarred and feathered the concept of forgiveness) dear (as if this will find publication anywhere besides a comment page in Hell), how ninety-seven percent of sex for you (because so few “partners” are half as hot) is like some swampy version of Whack-a-Mole while a dental instrument whirs the interior slog, its user calling out chess moves in what is akin to Beyoncé’s wobbliest fuck moan belted from twin throats. Wipe that membrane off your bib, Fifty Shades of Grey, and take a memory pill. Ape someone else’s style, not their wet spot. Stop blowing up your hymen with a bicycle pump. Maybe I can sell this gibberish to Jezebel, final evidence the penis parked women in, and profit off the border of her name. Let’s universally demand that Broder always smiles, so the void can stop filling up with bubblegum. Concerning the readably tame: you can’t pan your own silicone for a second shot at reality.

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