Thomas Mcguane’s Panama tells the story of Chet Pomeroy, a rock star burned out in the Florida Keys. He’s full of so much cocaine he can’t remember his dog’s name (it’s Dierdre) or the fact he married Catherine in Panama ten years ago. He still gets loaded and the addled moments in this story are like crossing a busy street blindfolded.
Panama is a darker read the second time through much like Miss Lonelyhearts, another book I found simply hilarious the first time. Or maybe the humour diminishes the second time and you are left with a sadness. Panama is genuinely sad though. Goofy Chet doesn’t want to face up to the fact his Dad is alive; he tells people he perished in the Boston fire. The final scene between father and son will tear your heart into little pieces. Miss Lonelyhearts on the other hand, has a sardonic streak running through it like a tremor in that Kevin bacon movie.
I couldn’t sleep Sunday night, so at 4am I picked up Panama and didn’t go to sleep until I finished it. Then I had a dream about Thomas McGuane. This is notable for the fact it don’t happen too often to people I don’t know too well. This makes McGuane the second artistic fixation to walk into my dreams (Malkmus being the first; the only difference is Malk and I are now good friends. Just kidding…or am I?).
I’ve been obsessing a lot about McGuane lately. Follow this link to read a pretty good piece. Ordered an expensive biography about him on the weekend. I listened to a radio show he gave in 1985 and I positively identified his answers as being identical to the ones I would have given to the questions even though he was 45 at the time with several books behind him, a family, a ranch in Montana and on a successful book tour of New York, a place I’ve never been.
In the dream we are on a mountain. McGuane gives a talk and then disappears. I begin scrambling around the premises trying to find him. I bump into someone who looks like him only much younger. ‘Hey, you’re that guy!’
‘No I am his son. I star in his movies.’ (McGuane made a couple of obscure films in the 70s in which he romanced the hell out of his co-stars, Elizabeth Ashley and Margot Kidder. Ashley wrote about it in a tell-all book that I have at home). In my dream I have seven copies of the aforementioned biography in my backpack for him to sign all in a variety of formats with different dust-jackets.
I finally find McGuane and say ‘I would have kicked myself if I didn’t take you aside and tell you how much you mean to me’ and he said something like ‘c’mon let’s go powwow’. ‘Your accent is wild,’ he says and I told him it’s Melbourne via Portland and then I looked down and saw that his writing hand was a stump and his wife walked up and her mouth was all deformed and I couldn’t understand her and I got really upset.
If anyone is capable of analysing this dream I would appreciate your insight.