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Farrar, Straus and Giroux
ISBN: 9780865478343112 Pages
Barnes & Noble
One part Plato, one part Aristophanes, two parts Easy Rider, Organ Grinder is a cocktail of lewd wisdom gathered equally from the poetry of antiquity and from near-death experiences on the open road. In a series of short works inspired by Horatian satire, Alan Fishbone bounces from gonzo fever-dream to philosophical treatise, investigating the conflicts between idealism and cynicism, love and sex, body and soul. Here's a taste:
After my accident, I thought I was done with motorcycles. Until a few years ago— I was lying in bed having trouble sleeping when I heard a voice say to me, “Alan, get a Harley and ride to Death Valley.” I didn’t even like Harleys. And I didn’t believe that God had called me and told me to get one. It seemed unlikely that the monotheistic god we’re stuck with would endorse a brand of motorcycle. Maybe the pagan gods of antiquity. Zeus might have ridden a Road King, or Apollo a BMW; you can imagine Aphrodite on the back of Ares’s Ninja, zooming around the planets with the tip of a golden thong sticking out of her robe. Even that twerp Hermes on a Vespa delivering messages. Those gods liked to drink and screw and run around, like bikers, but not Yahweh or the Lord or Allah—strictly black limousines and security goons for those guys. Thou shalt not ride. Thou shalt not be free. Thou shalt pay off the debt of thy sins.
So writes Alan Fishbone, our motorcycle riding scholar of ancient Greek and Latin, in one of the salty, sharp-eyed pieces that fill the pages of Organ Grinder.
A COUPLE OF QUESTIONS
I’ll get on with it, but first I have a couple of questions that bother me, that are always lurking around in the background. Like, what about all this NSA and Homeland Security surveillance? Does it make...