Thomas M. Disch
novel, published in 1968.
This text tells a compelling tale of madness in first person diary style, without seeming trite.
Disch shares with Pynchon a proclivity towards bawdy songs and seemingly obvious allusions. Truly mind-bending entries lay ahead toward the end, and it'll help to have a lil' Milton and a lil' Goethe in ya for this particular pulp sci-fi.
The giddiness infects my whole body: There is a hollowness in my throat, an altogether inappropriate inclination to laughter.
I mean, what's so funny?
"Music? I hate music," Mordecai said. "My father was a jazz musician, and my two older brothers. Of the smallest of small times, but it was their life. When they weren't practicing, they'd play records or turn on the radio. I could never open my mouth or make the least sound, but then they'd jump on me for it. Don't talk to me about music! Niggers have a natural sense of rhythm, they say, so when I was three years old I had to begin taking tap-dancing lessons. I was lousy at it, and I hated it, but I had this natural sense of rhythm, you see, so the lessons continued. The teacher showed us clippings from old Shirley Temple movies, and we had to learn her routines, right down to the last smile and wink. When I was six, Mammy brought me to the Thursday night talent show at the local theater. She'd dressed me up in this piss-elegant little angel costume, all tinsel and chintz. My number was I'll Build a Stairway to Paradise. You know that one?"
I shook my head.
"It goes like this..." He began singing the song in his rasping, parroty falsetto and at the same time to shuffle along the carpet.
"Son of a bitch!" he shouted, breaking off. "How the fuck can I do anything on a goddamn rug?" He bent over, caught hold of the tasseled fringe of the figured carpet, and pulled it clear of the tiled floor, dragging along or overturning furniture in the process.
Then he resumed, more loudly, his grotesque song and dance, his arms flailing out of sync with the ill-sung melody. His footwork became mere confused stomping. "I'm going to get there at any price," he shrieked. Flinging both legs out in front of him, he fell on his back. The song degenerated into pained screams, as his arms and legs continued to flail about. He beat his head violently against the tiles of the floor.