Friday, August 1, 2008

A RETURNING FROM THE VOYAGE WORSE FOR THE WEAR

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--Fragments which in many ways exemplify the total powerlessness of writing in such a medium.

--Back from a voyage with my son through the deserts of Arizona and California and from being at Hermosa Beach, near Los Angeles.

--I did not know my son very well because he lives four streets away from me in New York City, with his mother, because many years ago she decided her feelings had changed and she wanted to grow spiritually.

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--I came back with few words that insisted on being written down.


--I did not know the names of the plants through which we walked or drove by.

--I did not know the names of the geological formations we passed through or upon.

--I could not say one word of the language of the Tohono O'odham nation through we drove.

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--We toured Pomona College as my son is entering his last year at a prep school in New England.

--Pomona College seemed to be a little paradise whose whole educational purpose was centered upon the actual individual student.

--I would hope my son would go to Pomona.
I do not know if he will be able to resist the well cultivated seductive attractive illusions of the Ivy League.
If he falls for one of those colleges or universities it will be too late.
He will discover as countless students have done that the undergraduate student at these institutions is always an afterthought to the professors they encounter.
They will discover their role of being the student as nigger as was said in the so-called Sixties.
Of course for the vast dull majority of such students they will be too embarrassed to ever admit their mistake in going to these so-called institutions of higher education.

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--In Los Angeles the book section of the Los Angles Times was being merged into the larger Arts and Entertainment section. There were the usual protests. Most over-looked the one fringe benefit: books would no longer be segregated from the other arts. It will be the duty of the book section editor to assert the absolute necessity of books and that books of course are intimately connected to the other arts as indeed they in turn are connected to books. Books for too many people are seen as just stepping stones to the supposedly higher realm of movies. No good writer really wants to see his book translated to the silver screen.

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In Long Beach, Acres of Books, a vast second hand bookshop, is closing to make way for an arts complex in an area of Long Beach called the East Village. Only a real estate genius could not see the humour of such a situation.

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We voyaged through the land about the Salton Sea on our way to Palm Springs.
Both places are two sides of a coin that should provide the setting for a great novel.
I would love to have a house in Salton City or Salton Sea Beach.
I would think living midst what was once promised to be a great resort would be like living in Year Zero in Berlin in 1945.

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But it might also be nice to have also another house in Palm Springs or Rancho Mirage (again the genius of the real estate wonder workers) as I could imagine myself as being Ingmar Bergman or Max Frisch traveling from their Palm Springs or Rancho Mirage (Sweden and Switzerland) through the devastated landscape of Germany in 1945. How these places are the necessary complements of each other.

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I came back to New York City knowing that there was no purpose in my unpublished books.

We had lunch with the owner of Green Integer Books (Sun and Moon Press) Douglas Messerli. Conversation turned to Richard M. Elman. Messerli had published TAR BEACH the last novel of Elman who is now dead. Messerli has two unpublished novels by Elman in his files. He showed me one with the title LOVE HANDLES.

If you have to ask who is Richard M. Elman? If you don't know who Richard M.Elman is or if his name is obscure you know why those two manuscripts have not been published.

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How to imagine, again, the possibility of ever publishing another book?

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I wanted to

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SATANTANGO the great seven hour film by Bela Tarr was waiting for me when I got home.

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I had wanted to talk about the Library of America books devoted to Katherine Ann Porter and William Maxwell and John Ashbery.

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I had wanted to talk about the new Collected Poems of Jack Spicer.

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I had wanted to talk about MUTE OBJECTS OF EXPRESSION by Francis Ponge (Archipelago)

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I had wanted to talk about SENS-PLASTIQUE by Malcolm de Chazal. (Green Integer)

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I had wanted to talk about TRANQUILITY by Attila Bartis. (Archipelago)

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I had wanted to talk about THE UNIMAGINABLE MATHEMATICS OF BORGES' LIBRARY OF BABEL by William Goldbloom Bloch (Oxford University Press)

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I had wanted to talk about ESTHER'S INHERITANCE by Sandor Marai (Knopf)

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But I did finish reading Robert Pinget's SOMONEONE (Red Dust, 1984): "That's my own personal and private blessing, to forget and to lose my papers. If I had a good memory I wouldn't lose anything and then I wouldn't know what to do, I'd be bored rigid. Always having to ask yourself what have I forgotten, this keeps you going. And when you find something you'd forgotten to look for, what joy. This is very frequent."

In an afterword Pinget mentions, "As for the subjects treated in my novels, they are taken from the most banal, apparently derisory, everyday events in which there is nothing than can make a novel,
but which I have chosen for my material.

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I had wanted also to talk about ON THE BRINK by Gerhard Roth (Atlas Press) and HOMAGE TO CZERNY: STUDIES IN VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE by Gert Jonke (Dalkey Archive)

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Ed Burns came back from Paris with a report on the actual death of Albert Cossary. The titles of two of his little books can sum up all these words: MEN GOD FORGOT and THE HOUSE OF CERTAIN DEATH

3 comments:

collideorscape said...

From where I'm sitting, I can see my Sun & Moon paperback of Tar Beach. I don't know how it was that I came to have it, I think I was drawn to the design and the cover illustration. I'm pretty sure I didn't think it was the Joycean. Hard to believe I read it as long ago as July of '02. It was outstanding. I wish more of his work were available.

Anonymous said...

The two best books by Richard M. Elman are: AN EDUCATION IN BLOOD--- a ferocious novel centered upon a marriage going bad: you can taste the blood--- and FREDI & SHIRL & THE KIDS---one the very best novels about Jewish family life played out as a vaudeville routine that ever so carefully and funnily reveals the comic crucifixion of Richard upon the family dinner table.

Train Writer said...

Richard Elman was an amazing writer as well as an inspiring teacher. Read Cocktails at Samoza's for some incredible non fiction.
Looking forward to seeing Love Handles in print.