Thursday, February 12, 2015

A DEATH

               When I go out west to the Arizona and California deserts to those places according to NOTHING DOING  where five men are without graves that might be called their own, I read the local weekly and sometimes semi-weekly newspapers.  I try to avoid the newspapers of the empire those that aspire to be and insist on being read by the whole country and the world.  They seem closer to being the records of the court as were the great memoirs of the court of Louis the 14th… and little reflect the lives of those upon which the empire was built.

         I have been reading and re-reading an article from the newspaper of Twentynine Palms.

CRASH VICTIM REMEMBERED FOR BIG PERSONALITY
Twentynine Palms.  Family and friends of Terri Brooks gathered in a candlelight vigil Tuesday January20, [2015] to remember a woman who was called a friend to everyone she met.
(2)  Brooks, 26, of Twentynine Palms died in a traffic accident on the  Utah Trail at Twentynine Palms Highway Wednesday morning, when her car was struck broadside by a pick up truck.
(3) The candlelight vigil was held around a shrine on the spot where her vehicle came to rest after the accident.
(4) “Today is my birthday,” Terri’s mother, Gail Wentzel, said before a celebration of her daughter’s life began.  She said she wanted to spend her birthday with her daughter.
(5)  Terri, she said as born in Palm Springs and was raised in Yucca Valley but spoke with  a Southern  accent because  her husband a Marine is from South Carolina.
(6) “Terri was very bubbly,” Wenzel said.  Terri’s sister Amanda agreed.
(7)  “She had the ultimate bubbly personality,” she said.
(8) Terri’s father, Rod Lewis, opened  the celebration by thanking all those who took part and reading from the Book of Isaiah.
(9) “The Lord is the everlasting God, “ he read.  “He gives strength to the weary.”
(10)  “We don’t understand why Terri had to leave us,” he said.  “she was loaned to us by the Lord.  She will be looking down on us.”
(11)  “Terri didn’t just enter a room, she swept into a room.” He said.  “Terri never met a person who wasn’t her friend.”
(12) Wenzel remembered telling Terri telling a friend, “I love you with all my butt because my butt is bigger than my heart.”
(13) She recounted the morning of her last telephone conversation with her daughter, who was busy with her daughter, who was busy getting her children ready for school, the same morning she heard about the accident.”
(14) “I thought I was having a nightmare,” she said.
(15) The vigil gave her a look at what Terri’s life was all about, Wenzel added, “I see all the love Terri received and all the lives she impacted.”
SURVIVED BY HUSBAND AND THREE CHILDREN
(16) Terri grew up in Yucca Valley and was mom to a daughter Grace and a son, Bentley, when she met  Tylor Brooks, a U.S. Marine from Chesnee, South Carolina.  The two were married Sept. 1, 2012, and had a daughter Emma.
(17) Also part of their lives was a daughter  who was born to Tylor Brooks on Dec. 13, 2009, and died  a month later, on Jan. 10, 2010.  Terri Brooks kept baby Kinsley’s memory alive, Tylor’s sister, Jessica Miller, said Monday.
(18) “Every year on Kinsley’s birthday, she would get a balloon for each year,: Miller said.  “She kept her alive in the house with pictures, Christmas ornaments … she was amazing; she was an amazing person.”
(19) Terri had recently graduated from college with a nursing degree. She loved Marilyn Monroe and the Dallas Cowboys, but most of all, she loved her family, Miller said.
(20) “She loved, loved and worshiped my brother.  She was just a miracle in my bother’s life,” the North Carolina resident said.
(21) Terri’s sister, Mandy Lewis, and their mom still live in Yucca Valley. “Terri was loved by many and she touched so many people’s hearts,” Lewis said.
(22) A little before 8 a.m. Jan. 14, Brooks pulled her Ford Fusion from Utah Trail onto westbound Twentynine Palms Highway. She apparently did not see a Ford F-350 pickup truck coming toward her, according to a Sheriff’s Department news release.
(23) The truck’s driver, 54-year-old Kelly Diaz, of Twentynine Palms, tried to avoid the collision, but hit Brooks’ car on the driver’s side.
(24) Brooks died on the scene.
(25) Her three children were in seatbelts in the backseat. Bentley, 4, and Emma, 1, were not seriously hurt, but 7-year-old Gracie suffered a hairline fracture in a facial bone, Miller said. She will need surgery.
(26) At the urging of his family, Miller said, Tylor created a fundraising page to collect donations for Terri’s final arrangements and the children’s care.
(27) By Wednesday Jan. 21 56 people had donated $3,475.
(28) “My brother doesn’t ask for anything, never has .  My family told him he’s got to do it,” Miller said
(29) He did not tell the story of the accident on the Gofundme page because he didn’t want Terri to be remembered in that way, she added.  “He wants people to remember as joyful.”

(25) The fundraising page is at

Thursday, January 8, 2015

A Movie. A Book. A Memory. Longing. Forgetting.



A Movie.  A Book.  A Memory.  Longing. Forgetting.
            The other night I was watching the movie THREE COMRADES directed by Frank Borzage, based on the novel by Erich Maria Remarque and written for the screen by F. Scott Fitzgerald.  Toward the end of the movie Robbie has been visiting the love of his life Pat in a sanatorium where she is dying of TB.  They embrace and she objects to the ticking watch.  He hurls the watch to the floor…
          It all came back to me from Patchogue in the summer of 1965 on Robinson Boulevard.
          But first let me quote from the actual novel:
          After a while she grew restless. 
            “What is it, Pat?” I asked. 
            “It ticks so loud,” she whispered.
            “What?  The watch?”
            She nodded, “It’s so threatening---“
            I took the watch off my wrist. 
            She looked anxiously at the second hand, “Throw it away.”
            I took the watch and flung it against the wall.  “There, it’s not ticking any more now.  Now time is standing still.  We’ve torn it in two.  Now only we two are here; we two, you and me and no one else.”
            She looked at me. Her eyes were very big.
            “Darling---“ she whispered.
            I could not bear her glance.  It came from far away and passed through me to some other place beyond.
            “Old Lad,” I murmured, “dear, brave, old lad.”
            She died in the last hour of the night, before morning came.  She died hard and no one could help her…

          From the scrawled inscription of my name I can say I bought the 50 cent Popular Library paperback in my eighteenth year when I was a Freshman at Beloit College.  I would eventually acquire and read all of Remarque’s novels.  As to their quality, I never gave that a thought.  

          When my son Lorcan was in seventh grade at Grace Church School he was required to read ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT.  Of course I was pleased but he was very disappointed, “The book was interesting but really sentimental, Dad.  I know it ‘s supposed to be about how awful war is but being so sentimental you don’t believe it.” 

          Of course he was right.  And I admitted the justice of his comment and gave him Ernst Junger’s STORM OF STEEL.  This book renewed my credibility and Lorcan told me Junger was really a good writer and he had written a much better book as it didn’t tell you what to feel in the way Remarque insisted.
 
          But the ticking watch… at the end of June or early July, 1965 I was walking  back from the Patchogue Theatre with Melinda Brady.  We had seen the movie THE TRAIN starring Burt Lancaster and directed by Fred Zinnemann.  It was a long walk from Main Street to Hewlett Avenue where Melinda lived.  We walked by way of the shadows of Robinson Boulevard. We kissed for the first time and I could hear the watch on my wrist ticking.

          I had longed for this moment since sometime in the fall of 1961 when I had first seen her in the second floor hallway of Patchogue High School.  I was a senior and Melinda was a sophomore.

          The ticking watch has an inscription on its face 

               LONG ISLAND PRESS 1 YEAR SERVICE AWARD. 

          I had a newspaper route before working at Francis Bannerman’s  in Blue Point and before going to college out in Wisconsin, before going to Dublin where everything changed or didn’t change.
          
         I wrote two short stories about a Melinda  and a guy named Joey who would die on November 6, 1918 in World War One.  Alfred Willis published them in the high school newspaper THE RED AND THE BLACK in the spring of 1962.  Willis did two tours as a Marine in Vietnam…
           
        In this the one hundredth anniversary of that World War One…
          
        In the fictional moment labeled the present both Melinda and I have been married three times.  She lives far away in a tiny village in Maine and I live on East First Street in Manhattan.  The watch is broken and on a shelf in front of Julian Green, Ernst Junger, James Thomson, Hannah Green, Pati Hill, Louis Ferdinand Celine and Evelyn Scott books… in another part of that present Melinda asked me how I had known her birthday as Joey had died on… but I had not known and…
         

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

I WAS MURDERED, NOT KILLED



         I have not posted with much frequency this year. 
It is not for a lack of wanting. 
        I have been reading a number of books that a year or so ago I would have written about: 
                        THE SYMMETRY TEACHER by Andrei Bitov
                        THE MAUOLEUM OF LOVERS by Herve                                   Guibert
                        THE COLLECTED POEMS OF SAMUEL                                       BECKETT
                        ARDOR by Robert Calasso
                        A MILLION WINDOWS by Gerald Murnane
                        and the book that I have ever so slowly been reading  THE WALL by H.G. Adler…ever so slowly in the way that I read the DEATH OF VIRGIL by Hermann Broch.

        I did post a short notice about the 100th anniversary of the birth of the author of HOPSCOTCH---  a book that has always been a touchstone within my imaginative life--- a book that freed me from the crap that was being served up to readers in the 60 as worthy--- from those well-known bad writers (in Edward Dahlberg’s phrase) John Hawkes, Philip Roth, Saul Bellow etc etc---Hawkes in particular was the darling of so called with-it profs, but I would have said but did not have Dahlberg’s suggestion: it is better to watch daytime television than to destroy your sense of the book with the efforts of a Hawkes… another writer who was served up was Thomas Pynchon but the truth is that only V remains readable and was the only one which was readable… the profs went for other books of his which are more useful as intimidating clubs to really discourage students… but I am not even going to mention those titles…
        Of course, I still treasure my discovery of Samuel Beckett’s HOW IT IS and just before that on the night ferry from Glasgow to Dublin, Beckett’s FROM AN ABANDONED WORK…I remember announcing to Professor David Stocking at Beloit College…that Beckett has ended the so-called traditional novel and the smug reply of Stocking:  Beckett’s ended it for himself  of course these smug professors got theirs when they invited the feminist critical theory race-hustling post-colonial etc ideologues to take over the English departments thus sending those who still wanted to read  into the science departments…

What has stopped me: I was murdered with forethought and intent by John (Jack) O’Brien, the founder and owner of of Dalkey Archive Press by his not publishing my ST. PATRICK’S DAY. 
        On May 20, 2012  he signed a contract to publish the book within two years. That time came and went and there was not even a note offering any sort of excuse. 
        Just silence.
        Hard to believe and yet the common reaction is that this happens all the time, what’s so unusual about his actions, you got the 300$ advance and he didn’t ask for it back… you got the rights back… so what? move on… it happens all the time and no one really cares as there is no public out their hungering for more and more books, let alone your book…
        Of course Dalkey Archive continues on and is now distributed by Columbia University Press.  O’Brien maintains three offices here in the US, in London and in Dublin… and he has contracted to publish the Korean library of Literature in translation, beginning with 15 titles for which there has been a huge and growing demand in the United States and all other English speaking countries.  O’Brien has also contracted to publish a Georgian (the country not the state) Library of Literary works beginning with 10 books for which there has been an unprecedented demand in both England and the United States.
        As to O’Brien’s motive--- and that is what one waits for--- I have known Jack for more than 30 years.  He is the godfather of one of my children.  He has published two of my books.  He even began publishing parts of ST. PATRICK’S DAY in the earliest issues of the journal he owns, THE REVIEW OF CONTEMPORARY FICTION.  We have visited back and forth over the years.  We have witnessed each other’s divorces and awhile ago O’Brien suffered a devastating breakdown of his circulatory system which required major life-threatening surgery.  Happily he survived that surgery and while in the recovery room we talked by phone and he said, “Tom, I don’t know if I am alive or dead.”
        That confession of momentary abject powerlessness and his knowing that he said this to me, I believe. is at the root of his failure to publish ST. PATRICK’S DAY. 
        The oldest crime in the Bible: Cain and Abel: animal sacrifice versus crops from the soil--- the sheer arbitrariness of God preferring Abel over Cain---who knows.. and that is my understanding…the god-like arbitrariness… the ultimate power of God and what Lucifer’s rebellion aspires to…  And unlike Jack--- in his unloved solitary life of travelling the world looking for countries who would like to pay very big sums of money to see libraries in English of their novelists’ books… I have been blessed by meeting Anna and having been with her now for more than 20 years… 
        So, my final understanding is that O’Brien was exercising his freedom and so performed this sort of gratuitous act, an attempt at a mortal wound, an attempt to destroy, to hurt.

                                        GOOD NEWS

        John (Jack) O’Brien had murdered me but—here is the good news--- he did not kill me as I have now learned that ST. PATRICK’S DAY another day in Dublin will be published in the Spring of 2016 and is due to receive some sort of prize. 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

THE WALL by H.G. Adler

ONE   Of late I have been reading an advance copy of THE WALL by H. G. Adler.

TWO    I had looked into the two previous books by Adler that had been translated: THE JOURNEY and PANORAMA.  However the what-ever-it-is that gets a person to actually read a book was not there.  THE WALL has been different.
  
THREE   There is no way to read THE WALL quickly and that of course is what is always demanded and while I asked to review the book for the Los Angeles Times--- where I had reviewed over a hundred books over the years--- I have not heard from the editor.  

FOUR    THE WALL is to be published by Random House in December, an appropriately dead and proper time for a book that as I am reading makes me think of books I have had the privilege of reading and reviewing: THE SAVAGE DETECTIVES by Roberto Bolano, THE EMIGRANTS by W. G. Sebald, EXTINCTION by Thomas Bernhard, A BOOK OF MEMORIES by Peter Nadas, and FIASCO by Imre Kertesz.

FIVE    I was prepared to read these books by having read among what are now classic authors and thinkers:  Max Stirner, James Thomson BV, Julian Green, Ivan Turgenev, Ernst Junger, E.M. Cioran, Louis Ferdinand Celine, Robert Pinget, Jack Kerouac, Nina Berberova... all such lists are just that: lists.

SIX    Here is a passage from THE WALL

 The wall before me has never disappeared; I have known it for many years, not knowing when it first sprang up, though I didn't always see it.  Only when I peer forward intently and want to believe that I exist do I see it.  Otherwise it does not appear to exist; for hours, often for days, even many weeks on end, I do not notice it...

SEVEN      THE STORY:  Arthur is happily married with two children and living in what seems to be London.  He has survived both the Nazi attempt to murder him and the Communist aftermath...

EIGHT     As far as I can tell, as a reader of THE WALL,  I live only in the time of the passage of the pages...  those mythical places: past, present and future are always present on every page but sometimes there is a hint of something that might be called a back and forth momentarily in time...

NINE     672 pages.

TEN       A last quote in which Arthur talks of his wife, the who she is to him:

It's unimaginable to me what would remain of Arthur Landau without Joanna, because I have ceased to exist, called it quits, am completely spent, the vestige of a memory of who I no longer am, maybe even a message from nowhere, someone who can never find his footing, never land in one place.  Other people are just as dubious...

ELEVEN     I have not mentioned the names of the camps that Adler endured as I was wondering if we have gotten to a point where we can read say the books of Adler, of Imre Kertesz, of Abram Tertz, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn without mentioning this experience?

TWELVE    I probably should have been talking about Hermann Broch and Elias Canetti and Hermann Langbein but I have already indicted and convicted myself with the previously mentioned books and authors.

 

Monday, August 4, 2014

THE PASSING OF DALKEY ARCHIVE PRESS




It has been reported that Dalkey Archive Press has died. Founded in 1984 in Elmwood Park, Illinois, USA, by John Thomas O’Brien, the press at its moment of passing had three offices in London, Dublin and Champaign, Illinois, USA with a small staff out of proportion to its great mission. 
Details of the passing are few in availability but more are due.
                                    Provincial newspapers please copy. 

*** this blog post has been edited in the interests of protecting the innocent, the interested and the guilty… a complete version is available upon application to:   Monsieur Jacques Rigaut at
Jacquesrigaut69@gmail.com
A minimum of one sentence and a maximum of two sentences must accompany the application and this or these sentences must state the reason for wishing to see the post.

(Conclusion to THE PASSING OF DALKEY ARCHIVE)

A concerned commentator can only express the hope that while Mr. John Thomas O’Brien might have suffered a temporary anal blockage, this will not interfere with the task at hand:  Dalkey Archive Resurrected.


                                         ***


ONLY SORROW REVEALS TO US THE GREAT AND THE SACRED.
BEFORE SACRED--- WE MAY FEEL WHAT IS BEAUTIFUL, GOOD, EVEN SIGNIFICANT.  BUT NEVER WHAT IS REALLY GREAT, WHAT IS REALLY SACRED.
   
        1 JULY 1912  FALLEN LEAVES
                   --VASILY ROZANOV

That this sentence did not make the final version of this blog posting… :
               he murdered me but did not kill me, yet.