I actually went and looked this up on Google which at least shows you that research might not be my life, but it is occasionally my obligation. I was curious as to how many random thoughts a person has per minute and the answer was 50,000 a day. Off to the calculator I went and that number broke down to 2083 per hour or 35 per minute. (Yes I rounded the numbers off, no I don’t care if that offends you.) That sounds just about right.
I am a huge and unabashed fan of the work of D. Harlan Wilson who if he changed his name to “Not For Everybody”, would be a perfect example of nominative determinism. You don’t know what that is? Ah. Well, when you meet a veterinarian named Parrot or a podiatrist named Foot, there is a theory that their names led them to their professions. So there’s that clarified.
Why I started doing Google searches and simple math equations is because Battle Without Honor or Humanity‘s collection of fifteen short stories – if that is indeed what they are – presented to me something I have never, ever encountered in half a century’s reading. These are the closest you will ever see in print to true ‘train of thought’ writing.
Now, I’m not a simpleton so I know better. No one (other than an actual simpleton) would ever slap together his or her actual trains of thought between covers and present the compilation as a book. For one thing, how on earth could one find all the precisely imagined images of tits? For another, it is implied within the self-descriptive of Writer that the presenter of that title gives a shit, and giving a shit further implies editing. Editing is all about choices. We choose a language to write in, what story to tell, what words to use, right down to the font. Plus, all humans are at heart so many failed experiments in dog – we want to please yet we frequently (constantly?) suck at it. Therefore, I do not for a second buy that Wilson has actually reproduced his actual trains of thought in Battle Without Honor or Humanity but goddam the boy done come close.
Battle Without Honor or Humanity will exist as a perfect snapshot of our imperfect times. Before he chose to check out of the Hotel California with a bullet to the head, Hunter S. Thompson chose to describe our time as the “Age of Doom”. D. Harlan Wilson provides the play-by-play of the game of Doom. Rape, death, terrorism, paranoia, monsters, impersonality, secret police and the false imaging of TV and movies – they are all here. These stories, or chainsaw sections of a violent conveyor belt, force the reader into thinking along the same paths or rivers as Wilson. This is the most dangerous journey since Ronny Cox plopped up, arm askew, from the river in the movie version of James Dickey’s “Deliverance”.
This may not make the author happy and I’m damn sure it won’t make the publisher happy, yet there are only a handful of readers I know who will be able to take and appreciate Battle Without Honor or Humanity. You have to be willing to let go of traditional norms of what a story is in order to go along with D. Harland Wilson’s narratives. This ain’t what Hollywood and Debbie Reynolds taught you. But. But but but. That is the joy and brilliance of these collected dreams or nightmares. Hollywood took a sliver of our thoughts and presented then as the totality of what we should think. D. Harlan Wilson takes the curled strips of film left on the cutting room floor, splices them together and creates a monster movie.
This is a brilliant, challenging book by the man I choose to rename as Not For Everybody.