Humboldt: The Annotated Edition

After sixteen months of research, writing, revising, and editing, Humboldt: The Annotated Edition is now available as a free download from CCLaP’s website.

So what can you expect from Humboldt: The Annotated Edition? To begin with, beaucoup explanations of my strange preoccupation with things like soybeans, the unself, creative secondbirths, and New Zealand rugby. There’s also instructions on how to undertake the highway scavenger hunt that’s hidden within Chapter XII. (And everyone thought Jennifer Egan was clever for including a mere Powerpoint presentation in A Visit From the Goon Squad!)

And this scavenger hunt is not the only thing hidden within the novel, there’s also a detailed Ulysses-like underplot involving the history of western thought. This underplot explains all the strange historical comparisons (college & the Middle Ages), references (the Reconquista), and cameos (Savonarola, Boethius, Samuel Beckett) that appear throughout the novel.

And speaking of hidden things, suspect that there’s something hidden in my author photo? Well, guess what? You’re right!

And there’s more…

Humboldt: The Annotated Edition relays the novel’s imaginary subtitle, as well as the two epigraphs that are “written in invisible ink” on the book’s cover page.

It also recounts my favorite joke from the novel (hint: it involves Sigmund Freud), as well as my favorite lyric from LCD Soundsystem’s Losing My Edge (hint: it involves Captain Beefheart). And since no piece of writing by me would be complete without a lengthy discussion of booze, Humboldt: The Annotated Edition also includes dissertations on my favorite varieties of both scotch and absinthe.

And there’s more…

While reading the novel, were you haunted by the feeling that you recognized someone or something? Humboldt: The Annotated Edition includes footnotes for song lyrics from Iron & Wine, Death Cab for Cutie, The xx, Old Crow Medicine Show, as well as the song “Plant a Radish” from the musical The Fantasticks. There are also footnotes for quotes from poets Anne Carson and Kay Ryan, socialists Ralph Nader and Eugene V. Debs, writers as diverse as Lucretius, Thomas Pynchon, Montaigne, Jane Jacobs, and David Sedaris, and philosophers such as Roland Barthes, Michel Foucault, and Jacques Derrida. Heck, there’s even a quote from NBA legend Moses Malone.

Since it’s a well-known fact that Humboldt: Or, The Power of Positive Thinking includes numerous “magpie” sections, Humboldt: The Annotated Edition references passages from Ulysses, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Hamlet, Candide, Moby Dick, De Rerum Natura, The Brothers Karamazov, Confederacy of Dunces, and Life on the Mississippi.

There is also a healthy dose of commentary on my favorite writers, including discussions of Shakespeare’s favorite word and secondbest bed, Nietzsche’s sex life, and James Joyce’s keraunophobia. (And just in case Harold Bloom is reading this post: you’re referenced nineteen times!)

And there’s more…

Curious to know my true feelings on Marina Abramović, Alice Walton, Paul Auster, the city of Houston, the infamous “Brian O’Driscoll” incident, Bill Russell, or Wayne Barnes? They are all discussed in Humboldt: The Annotated Edition.

Did you feel like you recognized a real person in the Humboldt: Or, The Power of Positive Thinking? In Humboldt: The Annotated Edition, I touch upon the appearances of Kermit Ruffins, Quvenzhané Wallis (she played Hushpuppy in the movie Beasts of the Southern Wild), Andrei Codrescu, and Sydeny and Walda Besthoff.

What else appears in Humboldt: The Annotated Edition? There’s a discussion of the single most revolting thing I’ve ever eaten in a bar, café, or restaurant (yup, it was in Boston), photographs of every painting mentioned in the novel from the Boston Museum of Fine Art and every sculpture from the New Orleans Museum of Art, the real story behind the “A Whole Lotta Love” parties, a recap of the events surrounding the arrest of Mumia Abu-Jamal, directions to a Spotify playlist where you can listen to every rap song referenced in Chapter XXXVII, and a humorous poem I wrote years ago titled “John Ruskin Upon Spying His Wife’s Pubic Hair For the First Time on Their Wedding Night,” which begins with the lines: “What is that?!/ A CAT?”

So there it is: sixteen months of work, 25,000 words, eighteen images (including one VERY sexy author photo of Paul Auster), and a poem about pubic hair.

And don’t forget: it’s all free!


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