Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Literary criticism corner: is barfing the new black?

I've read or partly read 13 novels in the last two weeks and at least one character vomits, at least once, in every single one of them.


Ocky said...

Gotta stop reading those rock 'n' roll novels. Get back to Pride and Prejudice, where the vomiting is, I recall, quite discreet.

The colour rose in Mr Darcy's cheeks. "Forgive me for having taken up so much of your time, Miss Bennet. Please accept my best wishes for your happiness." And with these words, he leaned slightly into the shrubbery and disgorged his luncheon. "Good day."

Pavlov's Cat said...

Hm, yes, I can see a number of possibilities here. However, my own extensive experience of upchucking tells me that the colour drains from one's cheeks, rather than rising in them, and leaves them a fetching shade of palest eau-de-nil.

The tragic thing is that with one exception these novels are not particularly rock'n'rolly or grunge. Vomit seems to be running the entire fictional gamut. To put it onomatopoeically.

lucy tartan said...

It's a postmodern thing. Metaphoric backlash against all that bricolagic appropriation, ingestion of the Other, etc.


Pavlov's Cat said...

I surmise, Ms Tartan, that you have been reading too much about the Deaveses.

(Which I agree is enough to give anybody the, um, heaveses.)

ocky said...

Good point. Passion is strong in Mr Darcy, but his stomach isn't. He'd be as green as Mrs Bennet's aspidistras.

Puke lit could be the next big thing. Intestinal realism?

Mindy said...

I'd put in a complaint with your employers if all the other reviewers aren't complaining about the vomiting this week. Favoritism that is! (in appropriate Monty Python voice).

Maybe you could start a 'Bad vomiting' competition along the lines of the bad sex writing competition.

Pavlov's Cat said...

Mindy -- genius.

Update: it's actually fourteen novels and bugger me if there's not a chunder chapter in that one as well.

Word verification: gtxfsul.


TimT said...

Excellent Blawwwwwgh post! You could have great names for different types of entries: ie, Technicolour Porn, Technicolour Corn, Chunders of Wonder...

In my DVD of Bazza McKenzie, there's an old Four Corners interview with Barry Humphries riffing delightfully upon the necessity of chunders in great artworks. He cites (presumably fictional) works by Breughel, etc, saying, "There's always someone, in the corner, having a little chunder out of the window."

Pavlov's Cat said...

Well, I've seen at least one Breughel of which that is true -- all those harvest feasts is what does it. IIRC there is quite a lot of barfing in Goya. And Heironymous Bosch is full of it.

So to speak.

Fyodor said...

"Which I agree is enough to give anybody the, um, heaveses"


Pavlov's Cat said...

Thank you, Fyodor. That is praise from Sir Hubert Stanley.

On reflection, I may have been thinking of Gollum. That onomatopoeia, it's all around us.

Zoe said...

"is barfing the new black?"

Well everybody's doing it day and night around here.

Pavlov's Cat said...

Zoe, indeedie-do. I read your tale of the indestructible chorizo fragment (and I would link to it, but this comments thingy won't let me post links for some reason) with great interest but no envy.

Zoe said...

Days of whining grossness, Pav.

Which I never would have dared say but for that heaveses thing.

Mindy said...

Have you been reading predominantly crime novels? I realised yesterday that my Rebus book involved chucking up too, but it was after finding a particularly grisly body and of course Rebus wasn't sick.

Sympathy to you Zoe. The clean up afterwards really sucks.

gilmae said...

What were the novels, out of curiosity?

Pavlov's Cat said...

Zoe: heh.

Mindy: Funny you should say that -- the first Rebus novel I ever read has an opening scene in which Rebus throws up into the seal pool at the Zoo, where he has been staking out a pedophile among (if I am not mistaken) the meerkats. Nearly put me off Rankin altogether. Think what I would have missed. The only 2 full-on 'crime' novels here are the two Garry Dishers, which with the Garner are the ones I read for my own pleasure -- the other 11 were for work.

Gilmae: the novels are
Breath by Tim Winton
The Spare Room by Helen Garner
The Red Book by Meaghan Delahunt
The Lost Boys by Sam de Brito (wall-to-wall vomit, there)
Submarine by Joe Dunthorne (another book about adolecscent boys, more gratuitous hurling and other grossness)
The Seance by John Harwood (actually I don't think anyone does upchuck in this one -- the three 19th-century narrators are all too well bred to mention such a thing)
The Comfort of Figs by Simon Cleary
The Landscape of Desire by Kevin Rabalais
Kittyhawk Down by Garry Disher
Kill the Possum by James Moloney
All We Ever Wanted was Everything by Janelle Brown
Snapshot, also by Garry Disher
The Reserve by Russell Banks
A Rose for the Anzac Boys by Jackie French

Dr Siri Paiboun in Colin Cotterill's Disco for the Departed also upchucks over three particularly disgusting dead bodies all in the same room (and him a doctor and a coroner, pffft) but I think I read that one more than two weeks ago.

lucy tartan said...

I thought one of them would have to be The Lost Boys. Stands to reason.

BlissHill said...

My beef is that we always have to visit the men's loos on TV Shows, and listen to that charming trickling noise, then the Ziiiiiippppppp, as they trail off to the basins.

So many earth-shaking discussions must happen in the Gents; but I don't want to go there.

Vomiting? Yep, they do that on telly too. And smoking.

Maybe I watch too much TV....

Fyodor said...

"So many earth-shaking discussions must happen in the Gents"

Actually, no. Making the Earth move is not usually on the agenda*. Generally speaking, communication of any kind is absolutely minimised and, quite frankly, chaps who insist on blathering are highly suspect.

The following may help the more curious of you womenfolk:



P.S. And, Zoe: HEH. I regret that my mirthmeter cuts out at "11".

Pavlov's Cat said...

I've just realised I should have called this post NOOO, THEY BE STEALIN MY BUKKET!

Zoe said...

Just as well loldogs aren't so popular or you could have called it


Pavlov's Cat said...

Yeah, see, that's why I have cats.

How about


tigtog said...

This is the most entertaining thread I've read in yonks.

Word verification "embaa" which appears to be an instruction for some sort of LOLsheep. Not quite sure where to start with that.

Fyodor said...


There's a gynaecologist joke in there somewhere, but I wouldn't touch it with yours.

Pavlov's Cat said...

Ahem. The expression 'gynaecologist joke' is widely if not universally regarded among women as an oxymoron.

TT, the concept of the LOLsheep certainly does intrigue. It reminds me of my country-girl days when we'd go out with my dad and the dog to move a mob of sheep from one paddock to another, usually a mile or two away down the road, and you'd get them as far as a crossroads where you wanted them to go straight ahead - but a third of them would turn left, a third would turn right, and the remaining third would turn right round and come back towards you. Sheep are both dumb and bad.