Across My Big Brass Bed, Gary Amdahl
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  • Across My Big Brass Bed, Gary Amdahl

Across My Big Brass Bed, Gary Amdahl

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I failed rather conclusively to write a short description of Across My Big Brass Bed when

it was first published in 2014, and am failing now as well. It seems to me to be “perfectly

indescribable.” Which is in fact part of what I set out to accomplish, but I see that my

failure to be knowledgeable and persuasive about my own work is going to be a

hindrance now too, as the novel in a new edition has just been published. I and the

publisher want the thing purchased and read, but publicity is a tar-pit in which greater

animals than I have perished. cont'd

 

Quantity

Descriptions, as we have come to know them, depend on convention just as much as the

novels themselves (as we have come to know them) do. In the absence of infantile

“hooks” (as reviewers have come to know and depend on them), here are a few words

describing what I wanted to accomplish.

I wanted first of all, at the source, only to explore why Bob Dylan’s “Lay, Lady, Lay”

had so moved me when I heard it on my little red transistor radio, lying in bed one night

in 1969. Certainly it was the music itself, Pete Drake’s pedal steel guitar, Dylan’s strange

voice—lower and smoother than in previous hits but still a mind-blowing departure from

other singers I liked, The Walker Brothers, The Classics IV, Johnny Rivers—and the

profoundest of the old country rhythms. But I was also thirteen, right? I got an erection.

 

We go to bed at night, as babies, as little children, expecting to wake up in the same

world and in the same bodies, the same selves, that we mysteriously left when we fell

asleep.  And, for what seems like forever, we do.  Then one day, having done nothing but

go to sleep and wake up and go to sleep and wake up, we find ourselves profoundly

changed—so much so that we can very easily fall prey to despair over the brief pointless

torture that life suddenly seems to be.  Some lucky few wake up simply older and wiser

and stiffer in the joints, weaker in the lungs and limbs, but some wake up, as Dostoevsky

put it, as 'sick men, wicked men.

 

I am certainly one of the latter, and have tried in this novel, to do two things:  to suggest

how swiftly and seamlessly, how instantly and wholly, the transformations overwhelm

us, or at least overwhelmed me; and to record an account of my transformation that

doesn't declare me innocent of all wrongdoing or attempt to expiate admitted evil—or

even, as in my literary models (Augustine, Rousseau, Dostoevsky et al), to simply

confess, repent, and be forgiven, but to show how it happened sans the conventions that

make it all seem natural and entertaining, but in the end false and lifeless.

 

That is to say, I have attempted to write a true and living book that is emphatically and

proudly a fiction—not a memoir.Gary Amdahl tells the story of how it felt to be raised in the counter-culture of the US in the 1960s. A book of diverse influences, references, sexual mores, never lesses, and the whole cover is up so you can read what reviewers have said over the years.

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