Thomas Hardy on Zoloft



The smile on your mouth was the deadest thing

Alive enough to have the strength to die.


Windows, willows, gray clouds, a lake,

A landscape sketched by Thomas Hardy,

Heartache’s bald-headed ambassador,

Who wondered what life’s fuss was for.


Yet why so glum? The willows wave,

As if to welcome the scudding clouds.

This vacay cottage sports a tin roof.

Pounding percussion is in store.


Pull down the shades, shut down Pandora.

Listen to the rhythm of the falling rain,

Telling you just what a fool you’ve been

Groaning and bemoaning tick tocks away . . .

Tess of the Baskervilles: A Literary Mash-Up

The novel opens with a mini mystery– Philip Marlowe and Colonel Kurtz speculate on the owner of an alligator wallet left in their office by an unknown visitor. Wowing Kurtz with his extraordinary common sense, Marlowe opens the wallet and looks at the drivers license to discover that the wallet belongs to DH Lawrence, which provides a convenient entree into the history of British pornography.

Entering the office and opening a laptop, Lawrence plays for Marlowe and Kurtz an 18 1/2 minute porno film that features an unknown actor portraying Richard Nixon. Playing the role of Rosemary Woods in the film is the tragically beautiful porn star Tess Baskervilles, who mysteriously disappeared without a trace four years ago.

Lawrence maintains the film was shot within the last year because the director has carelessly left on the bedside table an anachronistic copy of Hillary Clinton’s recently published memoir Hard Choices. Slowing down and stopping the action, Lawrence zooms in to Tess’s right ear, which because of a childhood dog attack, has a jagged lobe. “See, it is she,” he stiltedly says. Oddly enough, throughout the film the only stitch of clothing the actress wears in one red Chuck Taylor Converse All-Star hightop.

Agreeing to take the case, Marlowe and Kurtz quickly discover that Charles G Koch and David H Koch, the billionaire Republican political operatives, were the producers of the film and the screenplay was written by Peggy Noonan, the first Bush’s head speechwriter, the author of the famous “ten-thousand points of light” slogan and the less famous line “Oh, Dickie, lick me,” from the Nixon/Woods porno vehicle starring Baskervilles and the mystery actor portraying Nixon.

Once in Washington, DC, where the film was shot, Kurtz discovers a state of emergency as someone has released scores of filthy pigeons in Battery Kemble Park. Kurtz meets potential suspects of the release in the park, two aides of Senator Ted Cruz, and decapitates them, placing their heads on stakes to demonstrate that he is “beyond their petty, lying morality.”

A series of mysteries transpire in rapid fire succession. Condoleezza Rice is seen skulking around the grounds of 3067 Whitehaven St NW, the home of Bill and Hillary Clinton; Kurtz spies a lonely figure keeping watch on the Clinton mansion; and after being threatened with blackmail by Marlowe, Robert Koch reveals that the porn film was directed by David Mamet.

Doing his best to unravel these threads of the mystery, Kurtz dispatches a camera drone to discover the lonely figure is none other than Marlowe himself.

Marlowe has discovered through his observations a mysterious woman being secreted in and out of the Clinton’s house, whom he suspects is none other than Lady Gaga, nee Tess Baskervilles. The Kochs, Cruzes, Mamets, and Noonans have only been pawns in the Clintons’ machinations — both Bill and Hillary have been Tess’s lovers, and unknown to the right-wingers, it was Slick Willie himself disguised by his eerily accurate Nixon make-up who played Rosemary Woods’s lover in the 18 1/2 minute porno film.

In a dramatic final scene, Kurtz and Watson use the Obama’s dog Sunny to track down Tess/Gaga using the scent of the sister shoe of the red Converse sneaker worn in the film.

Despite state-of-the-art burglar alarms and secret service agents, Marlowe and Kurtz gain entrance into the Clintons’ house where they discover Tess Baskerville/Gaga in bed with Condoleezza Rice.

They snap photos and threaten to sell them to the tabloids unless Condoleezza apologizes for her role in the Iraq debacle, which she hesitantly does by admitting “mistakes were made.” They then confront the Clintons who are upstairs scrutinizing poll data. Bill and Hillary brush off the two detectives maintaining the whole fiasco was a vast rightwing conspiracy and rattle off the names Koch, Mamet, Cruz, Noonan to prove their point.

Back in LA, Marlowe ties up a few loose ends with DH Lawrence while Kurtz writes a high-strung novelization of the porno film, an account that throbs with eloquence.


If you enjoyed this write-up, be on the lookout for the next exciting product from Mash-up Lit, The Hound of the D’Urbervilles.

Oh, the years, the years

“Down their carved names the rain-drop ploughs.” Thomas Hardy

Whenever a depressing thought intrudes upon my ghostly solitude – like this morning’s revelation that each swallowed Zoloft represents one fewer day of life, another grain of the hourglass gone – I thank my lucky stars for my friend of forty-plus years, Thomas Hardy, whose desolate view of life paradoxically provides comfort.

I first encountered Hardy in the 8th grade when a sadistic teacher made us read The Return of the Native, a novel that Clare Keating and Katie Hickey describe as “an anthropological treatise on the dying practices of English rural culture.”

And she’ll have fun, fun, fun /Till her Daddy takes her T-Bird away!

The teacher, a withered-armed victim of polio, was married to the only taxi driver in town, a man she considered her intellectual inferior, so certainly she had legitimate reasons for being bitter. (She, if you’ll forgive the phrase, wore her biography on her sleeve, slightly too long, half-covering the bad left hand).

Nevertheless, assigning thirteen-year-olds a syntactically difficult novel set on a barren heath, a novel dealing with the themes of illicit sexual unions and tragic blind fate might not be the best recipe for nurturing “life-long readers.”

Ba-Ba-Ba-Ba-Barbra Ann.

So, of course, based on my one pubescent encounter, I avoided Hardy, whom I associated with endless tracts of barren waste, unintelligible dialect, and blighted lives.


Nevertheless, my sophomore year at Carolina, I became reacquainted with Hardy, not in his more famous role as a novelist, but Hardy the poet, and it amounted to a Road-to-Damascus reversal.  One reading of his sonnet “Hap” and I was hooked.

If but some vengeful god would call to me
From up the sky, and laugh: “Thou suffering thing,
Know that thy sorrow is my ecstasy,
That thy love’s loss is my hate’s profiting!”

Then would I bear it, clench myself, and die,
Steeled by the sense of ire unmerited;
Half-eased in that a Powerfuller than I
Had willed and meted me the tears I shed.

But not so. How arrives it joy lies slain,
And why unblooms the best hope ever sown?
—Crass Casualty obstructs the sun and rain,
And dicing Time for gladness casts a moan. . . .
These purblind Doomsters had as readily strown
Blisses about my pilgrimage as pain.

Architecture 10 by Daniel Cacouault    Architecture 10 by Daniel Cacouault

Later, I came to appreciate the novels themselves, especially Tess and The Mayor of Casterbridge; however, it’s still the poetry that does it for me, and perhaps my favorite is “During Wind and Rain.”

I invite you to read the last line aloud and to note and enjoy your mouth and tongue forming the plosives  – it’s indeed a celebration of life.

They sing their dearest songs—
He, she, all of them—yea,
Treble and tenor and bass,
And one to play;
With the candles mooning each face. . . .
Ah, no; the years O!
How the sick leaves reel down in throngs!

They clear the creeping moss—
Elders and juniors—aye,
Making the pathways neat
And the garden gay;
And they build a shady seat. . . .
Ah, no; the years, the years,
See, the white storm-birds wing across.

They are blithely breakfasting all—
Men and maidens—yea,
Under the summer tree,
With a glimpse of the bay,
While pet fowl come to the knee. . . .
Ah, no; the years O!
And the rotten rose is ript from the wall.

They change to a high new house,
He, she, all of them—aye,
Clocks and carpets and chairs
On the lawn all day,
And brightest things that are theirs. . . .
Ah, no; the years, the years
Down their carved names the rain-drop ploughs.