Going away always provokes the question: what to read?
Next week we set out on a voyage to Arizona and California.
I have been sorting out journals, books, papers, all the refuse of a life...
Literary journals pile up and even to talk about literary journals is to seriously date me.
Literary journals are mostly now electronic journals though from the evidence in St. Marks Bookstore some are still being published.
I must have gone through maybe two hundred of these mostly thick things. I did keep the entire run of PROSE, one of the most beautiful and elegant journals which existed to publish the work of Edward Dahlberg, Glenway Wescott and a select few writers whose claim to fame is their prose style. And I kept all the issues of the REVIEW OF CONTEMPORARY FICTION because for the most part they have not dated at all and remain the best introduction to what should and by implication should not be read.
I will make a list of the articles I did save. There is a certain pleasure in ripping these things apart...
---"In A Completely Unknown Region: On Gerhard Roth's Novel Landlaufiger Tod" by W.G. Sebald (Gerhard Roth is a writer who unless more of his books are translated and in particular the book that is the subject of this essay we in America must consider ourselves to be hopelessly provincial. Gerhard Roth is the best writer who writes in German and if you do not believe me seek out this essay by Sebald.
---"The Effect" by Tom Whalen. To remind any and all that it continues to be...
where is the publisher who knows how to read and knows that Tom Whalen's stories, novels, criticism and poetry cries out for being bound into books that are widely read
---"Ortega y Gasset's "Revolt" and the Problem of Mass Rule" by E. Robert Statham, Jr.
---"The Boy on the Swing (Barcelona, 1981)" by Enrique Vila-Matas. (Of course You have read BARTLEBY & Co.
---"A Stroll with Albert Jay Nock" by Robert M. Thornton. Is not the title of his defining autobiography the fate of all of us Memoirs of a Superfluous Man?
---"The Dead Won't Let Us Go" by Linda Le. You might know her SCANDAL--- she is the genuine writer from Vietnam whose work can be read by someone interested in literature and not politics and guilt
---"Hats for Alice" by Julian Rios. LARVA! !!!!!!!
---"Fighters for Anarchism" by Sam Dolgoff
---"Marc Saporta: The Novel as Card Game" by Reinhold Grimm I had just reviewed THE UNFORTUNATES by B.S. Johnson that novel in a box: Saporta had gone a step beyond Johnson.
---"From Tales of Samora Machel" by Pierre Guyotat--- the only French writer who has really moved beyond what Celine was able to do. TOMB FOR 500,000 SOLDIERS, EDEN EDEN EDEB, LE LIVRE
---"Bulgaria, My Suffering" by Julia Kristeva. JK is usually incoherent in a way that the academics treasure but here she finally begins to write--- sadly only a brief moment
---"Juan Goytisolo and the Honor of the Novel" by Carlos Fuentes.
---"The Ambush" by Donna Tartt
---"A Rejected Chapter from Hopsotch" by Julio Cortazar.
---"Aaron Rosenblum" by J. Rodolfo Wilcock
---"Florida Vacations" by Paul Metcalf
---"Preparations" for Search by Joseph McElroy
---"Poe in Vietnam" by Robert Nedelkoff
And I should make a list of the books that I have to decide from to take on our voyage:
THE JOURNAL OF JULIUS RODMAN by Edgar Allan Poe
TRANQUILITY by Attila Bartis
COLLECTED STORES AND OTHER WRITINGS by Katherine Anne Porter (Library of America)
THE COLLECTED POETRY OF JACK SPICER Edited by Gizzi and Killian
LATER NOVELS AND STORIES by William MAxwell (Library of America)
COLLECTED POEMS 1956- 1987 by John Ashbery (Library of America)
THE CALM OCEAN by Gerhard Roth
THE SICKNESS CALLED MAN by Ferdinando Camon
HOMAGE TO CZERNY: Studies in Virtuoso Technique by Gert Jonke
HITLER'S PRIVATE LIBRARY by Timothy W. Ryback
THE TEMPLE OF ICONCLASTS by J Rodolfo Wilcock
---this list is not complete as there are still some days before our departure---
I have been reading THE DESERT PEOPLE by Joseph, Spicer and Chesky and EARTH AND LITTLE RAIN by Bernard L. Fontana. These books begin to describe the Tohono O'odham Nation which we plan to visit after stopping at Tombstone...
We are voyaging into our ignorance when we fly off to Phoenix with the intention of driving south.
I have no vocabulary for the land through which we will travel.
I hope to find a book to describe the plants and soil and geology.
We have read some into the history but...
On the same day we set forth my friend Edward Burns goes off to Paris. Burns has just published a carefully annotated collection of letters between Hugh Kenner and Adaline Glashen, A PASSION FOR JOYCE His literary interests and his travels are at such an extreme from our own setting forth for southern Arizona--- maybe only in Finnegans Wake such disparate travels could be compassed.
While we will end up walking along the beach at Hermosa Beach in Los Angeles Ed will be walking from his hotel where Albert Cossary recently died, having lived there for 50 years--- you remember? his books: MEN GOD FORGOT, THE HOUSE OF CERTAIN DEATH, PROUD BEGGARS--- will be walking down to the Seine accompanied by the shades of his friends Michel Leiris and Alice B. Toklas
We return to New York on the same day.