About 'Alpha+Good'

Alpha+Good (a bad wordplay on Orwell's "double plus good" and old machismo - I'm the realest after all) is a side project that belongs to 'Onklare taal' ('Unclear' or 'Unripe language'), the umbrella of several literary projects in Dutch.

This section is almost exclusively in English and comprises my ongoing thoughts on progress, gender, politics and various other social themes. Why is this in English why everything else in Dutch? Because I want to gun for a much wider audience here. Also, my literary English isn't good enough, otherwise I would always write in English.

Are you a little lost? This link will take you right back to my home page.

Friday, March 18, 2016

20 people I admire (VIII): Zack Parsons

Who? Internet comedy writer who started out as one of the main writers at SomethingAwful, then moved into writing novels.

Why? Parsons is likely one of the least well-known people on my list. Nonetheless, a decade ago his writing opened me up to the fact that you can find a comedy angle to nearly everything there is, especially the sometimes depressing world of early-aughts Internet. Parsons came from a place of essentially understanding the tragedy of pathetic MySpace pages, low-cost pornography or the shallow universe that C-list celebrities inhabit. In addition, he’s a smart and versatile writer who has an eerie knack for adopting and then doubling down on his imitation of the minds of people he mocks.

What resonates with me? Parsons can kick down without being totally mean about it. In one joke, he can both recognize that poor American whites are victims of a perverse political lie and simultaneously eviscerate their horrible racism. It takes skill to do that. Also, Parsons remains the creator of one of my favourite lines of comedy ever written: “There are two kinds of people in this world: people who hate or fear circus clowns, and people who are circus clowns.”

Best bit? Reportedly his novel ‘Liminal States’ is pretty good and very eerie, but out of the work I know him best for, I would say his soul-crushing reviews under the label ‘Horrors of Porn’ manage to capture his spirited vein of black comedy best.

Next up: Hadley Freeman, American journalist.

Friday, March 11, 2016

20 people I admire (VII): Margaret Atwood

Who? Canadian novelist.

Why? Atwood has it all. At once she is thoroughly of the now, what with her penchant for irreverently mixing genres, being a great feminist icon and a staunch humanist, and also somewhat of a chronicler of imagination. She damn well ought to be on the short list for the Nobel Prize of literature sooner rather than later.

What resonates with me? Her wry sense of humour and the subtle shadings of morality she makes her characters inhabit. Atwood is one of those writers who can get under the skin of her characters but doesn’t do sentimentality. She is grounded in multiple worlds at once, and manages to concoct a fusion of all these influences all her own. A model to look up to.

Best bit? Most people would probably say ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’, and sure, it is a modern classic that feels eerily prescient of the way fundamentalist regimes made the lives of women a living hell in Afghanistan under the Taliban, or the way reactionary American politicians speak about women and sexual minorities in ways they wouldn’t have dared when the book came out. For me however, her best novel is ‘The Robber Bride’, a novel that manages to capture all of Atwood’s superb skills in one.