Monday, October 27, 2008

TRANQUILITY or a book to buy right now,0,1679894.story
From the Los Angeles Times
'Tranquility' by Attila Bartis
By Tom McGonigle

October 26, 2008


Attila Bartis

Translated from the Hungarian

by Imre Goldstein

Archipelago Books: 292 pp., $15

"Tranquility" is a moving, emotionally complex, subtle, shocking novel -- and the inadequacy of these words of praise might be overcome by considering imagery, such as the narrator's "remembering how I crawled, like a creeper, upon the back of that woman. Like a slug on the wound of a decaying fruit tree." Or this: "You live only as long as you can lie into the mug of anybody, and without batting an eye. And when you can't anymore, well, it's time to get hold of that razor blade." Or this: "[The narrator's mother's] nakedness was like that of the dead, in whom only the corpse washer and God take any delight."

The first of Attila Bartis' books to be made available in English, "Tranquility" may come as no revelation to those who have followed the incredible explosion of literary greatness coming out of modern Hungary: Péter Esterházy, Peter Nadas, Imre Kertész, Zsuzsa Bank. Each of these writers may seem like an individual voice speaking into a solitary silence, but the effect is of a startling chorus and of a sustaining vision of how to survive in a world that is increasingly hostile to the individual imagination.

Andor Weer, the narrator of "Tranquility," is a writer of short stories entangled with his aging, controlling mother who is terrified by the thought of being cremated (she has been told that her corpse will sit up in the oven). Once a leading actress on the Budapest stage, she has been reduced to playing bit parts as a punishment for being unable to lure her violinist daughter back to Hungary from the West.

Spanning the declining years of the Communist regime, Bartis' novel presents a form of narration that twines a record of Andor's day-to-day life as a writer with what are surely snippets, both long and short, of stories echoing his own mastery of the short story (by which Bartis first rose to prominence in Hungary) in a novel that moves effortlessly through all levels of a truly damaged society attempting to recover from communist devastation.

Bartis comes close to exemplifying Louis-Ferdinand Céline's wonderfully provocative comment that one has to be a little bit dead to be really funny. Bartis fractures any sense we have as to whether the characters -- the narrator, his sister Judit, his girlfriends, his mother and father -- are actually alive or dead. And it doesn't matter, for even the minor characters imprint themselves thoroughly upon one's memory.

Bartis creates an atmosphere of believability in this novel without forsaking the use of irony. Early in the story, for instance, Andor reads a short story to a provincial audience about a homicidal priest who kills off his congregation with poisoned communion wafers. After the reading, the priest in the village invites Andor to supper. "I've got a pretty good ceremonial wine, if you've got the courage," he tells him. During the course of the evening, the priest reveals himself to be one of those rare members of the clergy -- a priest who actually does believe in God -- and, next morning, as Andor leaves on a train, the priest gives him a book as a gift.

It isn't a copy of Augustine's "Confessions" or some such but is something else entirely, which isn't revealed for another 30 pages. What that book is won't be identified here -- no plot spoiler for readers -- so get the book as soon as you can.

McGonigle is the author of "Going to Patchogue" and "The Corpse Dream of N. Petkov."

Thursday, October 16, 2008

2666 BY ROBERTO BOLANO, TRUE CRIME and TRANQUILITY: some hints for reading now


2666 By Roberto Bolano has landed and will be making its way into bookstores. It probably should have come with stickers: ONLY TO BE READ AFTER READING THE SAVAGE DETECTIVES. As 2666 is likely to be the only big literary book of this season--- and it is a genuine literary book, the real thing--- most readers will have read THE SAVAGE DETECTIVES in great expectation of 2666 but new readers will find the first long section of 2666 tough going though for readers of THE SAVAGE DETECTIVES we well know there is a reason, a purpose behind what could be very off-putting: the entanglements of four academic critics with a reclusive German author's life and novels.


To date no one has mentioned the name B. Traven but since Bolano is soaked in literature and surely he is aware that B. Traven is the only German author who is in anyway mysterious and surely Bolano is depending on our faint memories of Traven...


2666 is a baroque balloon capping Bolano's career. It is not a Finnegans Wake to his Ulysses. It is of a piece with all his work.


If Bolano was alive I think that he would be reading two other books published this season in New York. As 2666 is filled with violent crime he would be reading the Library of America's TRUE CRIME, edited by Harold Schechter. He would have remembered Williams Burroughs talking about how essential crime was to American life: it was there before the Indians… as you well remember.

TRUE CRIME: from the first murder and the first hanging in Boston mentioned by William Bradford to Dominick Dunne, by way of Jack Webb (Dragnet) and a wonderfully rescued piece by Dorothy Kilgallen who I remember reading in the old Journal American which my father brought home at night turned to the comics page though mother was listening to her on the radio having lunch at Sardi's talking of the celebrities lunching around her and her husband Dick..

Much as the characters in Robert Musil's great novel THE MAN WITHOUT QUALITIES were fascinated by a brutal psychopath, TRUE CRIME has stories about the two disturbing and ever fascinating contemporary killers, Charles Manson and Ed Gein who together occupy much of the popular imagination with either their deeds or their influence on an endless series of trashy violent movies


As I was reading Robert Bloch's piece on Ed Gein (the inspiration for PSYCHO) I was remembering Duane, the boyfriend of Bink Noll in Beloit, talking about growing up in the same town as Ed Gein. Duane was a little odd being a male nipple fetishist who published a newsletter for those so inclined from Noll's basement via a post office box in South Beloit. Duane said that was the most disturbing aspect of Gein's career was that he had supplied meat for sausages to the local butcher shop and when he was found out people realized they had been eating their relatives for quite some time…

Another friend who had become a cop in Wisconsin after college told me that he had been up the state lunatic asylum to look at Ed Gein who was their prized exhibit and was a reminder that criminals are very very ordinary looking.


TRUE CRIME is the best anthology that the Library of America has published… well to be really scrupulous it is the best if you also say that their anthology on Los Angeles and about American in Paris are also included in that bite of praise…


AND TRANQUILITY (Arhipelago Books)the first novel of Attila Bartis to be published in the United States would attract Bolano. I have written a review of it which will appear shortly in the LA Times… SO not to chew the cabbage twice. Bolano would have liked the particularity of detail in TRANQUILITY: the acceptance of the appearance of convention and then the trusting to a fearless honesty and the necessity of destroying chronological time in the telling of his narrator's entanglement with his mother, his father, his father's whore and the sister in exile… Bartos with this novel joins that little essential pantheon made in Hungary composed of Peter Nadas, Peter Ezsterhazy, Imre Kertesz and Zsuzsa Bank

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

J.M.G. LECLEZIO: Getting older sometimes just means getting older


Let's not kid ourselves into thinking literary prizes are meaningful. They are a real pain in the ass. You will have seen the film The SWIMMING POOL and remember when the Charlotte Rampling character complains about not getting any literary prizes her editor consoles her with the sentence, Literary prizes are like hemorrhoids, eventually ever asshole gets one.


SO, the Nobel and J.M.G. LeClezio. A Canadian correspondent wrote complaining of Swedish racism in that they failed to give the Nobel Prize a second time to Toni Morrison for her having to live in such a hostile environment as the United States…

Of course we all know that the three saddest words in the English language (according to Gore Vidal) Joyce Carol Oates grew a little sadder and more Chinese food was consumed as Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill once told me that when she was invited to Princeton she was surprised that the chief subject of conversation there was about Chinese versus Indian take out…

Of course we all know that Princeton is a dumping ground for second rate Black intellectuals that even Harvard could no longer stomach…


One should be happy he got the prize if only in the hope his earlier books will be re-printed in the US.

Let us remind ourselves that the Nobel did get it right when it gave the prize, to Claude Simon and Camilo Jose Cela and again they didn’t give it to that hick P. Roth.


I took down from my shelves that pile of LeClezio books. He has been well published in the United States.

In 1970 I must have written to LeClezio as I have a little note from him in which he carefully mimics the typewriter in his block lettering: The mind is not too well but the hand continues to write.

I had written to him after reading TERRA AMATA which was the fourth of his books to be published in the US by the long gone Atheneum…

I had heard of him on a pig farm in West Branch Iowa from Elliott Anderson who had been reading FEVER, a collection of Le Clezio's short stories.

Those early seven books: FEVER, THE INTEROGATION, THE FLOOD, TERRA AMATA, BOOK OF FLIGHTS, WAR, THE GIANTS… catalogue a vision of disintegration of the known world… the desperate isolation of the individual and I probably had written to LeClezio suggesting that Max Stirner so long ago had talked about the creative nothingness out of which everything is possible…

Again when I go to TERRA AMATA, THE FLOOD… I am midst that collapse and LeClezio's ability to find a language and form for it: "He turned into writing; it turned into crossing-out." (TERRA AMATA) or "All that remains now is writing, writing by itself, groping its way with words, searching and describing, meticulously in depth, hanging on hammering out reality, rejecting compromise." FEVER (1965)


Of course all young people should be so imbued… and not seek out as today the tired best sellers and mimicking them as seems the case for 99% of what is published in the US today.


And the great ambition: "You must abandon the field of solitary contemplation, the false protection of forgetfulness; you have to sally forth recklessly into the open, determined to explore the outside world in all its aspects, driven on by a mad desire to invade every space and drain every attraction to the dregs. No longer, either, by analytical reason, but by a willing acceptance of the illogical in your reactions to every room and person, each tree, each speck of dust… (THE FLOOD).


I have mis-placed THE BOOK OF FLIGHTS but with WAR and THE GIANTS LeClezio gives himself over totally to the visionary in the hope of staying alive: "One day, round noon, he looks round him, in the big city where he lives; he stops moving, and looks round him. He stops flapping the twin cushions of his speaking lips, he stops blinking his eyes at the sight of set pieces, women, cars, trains, films, pages of essay-poem-novels and looks round him. In a single stroke the world stops moving. (THE GIANTS)

THE GIANTS appeared in 1975 and for almost twenty years LeClezio did not exist in the US. I tried and failed to get Dalkey Archive to reprint the early books.

In France, of course LeClezio continued to publish and I picked up VERS LES ICEBERGS in the hope of seeing that one day into English or… and I waited.


In 1993, finally THE PROSPECTOR and THE MEXICAN DREAM appeared. Larry Kart (some day I will write about him--- one of the great editors of our time) then editor of the book section of the Chicago Tribune allowed me to review them… by then LeClezio was part of the usual forgetfulness.

In my review I wrote that THE PROSPECTOR was a romance… and while it did not continue in the vein that I had treasured in those earlier novels… of course in 20 years a writer… I disguised my disappointment and allowed that he had written a very good novel, one that as they say, kept me reading… I imagine nothing much happened for Godine, the publisher of this novel… I had found some words they could use as a blurb but there would be no paper version, I was sure of that. The book of essays THE MEXICAN DREAM was a hodgepodge and sadly LeClezio had given himself over to a too easy self-hatred of being a white European writer.


When I read again today in THE MEXICAN DREAM… I see something I had missed before… and which I have only recently become aware in regard in my case the state of Arizona and the native peoples living there: I know nothing. I know nothing.

LeClezio was trying to share that idea with his readers and only if he had been able to free himself from his ordinary European self-hatred so as to truly give words to what he mentions was, the greatest disaster in human history: the destruction of the various Indian civilizations in the Americas… if only it was possible to do this but not from now comfortable and well rewarded self-hatred…


Since then the novel ONITSHA, and a book of stories THE ROUND AND OTHER COLD HARD FACTS have appeared from Nebraska…and seemed too conventional for me… in 2004 Curbstone published WANDERING STAR and not for a moment was I interested in LeClezio's take on the Palestinian/Israeli situation…the novel might have been a parody for all I know and LeClezio was creating a mock entertainment.. Not for a moment did I believe that he could inhabit the experience of an Israeli or Palestinian woman… not for a moment was I unaware of the dreadful fall into the imperialism of LeClezio's imagination and a politically correct and calculated arrogance that had displaced his heroic stuttering yet articulate hesitation that had shaped those early book…but it is for these later books that he was being honored so possibly the comment in THE SWIMMING POOL is not too far off…


Maybe in real old age LeClezio will return to the consoling truth of the last lines of TERRA AMATA: How can one bear witness? I am only an actor who doesn’t know the play he's acting in. What I've done I've done by chance, like a gnat in a strong wind. I've said first one thing, then another. I've written pins, tobacco, passions, suffer, nylon, seed. You've read zip-fastener, top, beauty, woman, cigarette, cloud. And accurate chance is its own individual path. But I've said enough. Now it's your turn."

Sadly, I doubt it.


Re-located material.

Of course Princeton is a wonderful place…according to the late George Garrett, Princeton used to recruit Black students and allow them to go through the first two years with no grades… just passed them along and then in the final two they began to be graded and flunked out. Princeton thus had to it both ways: good liberal admission policies and then ruthless preserving of the degree….now of course the more typical graduate of Princeton is Michelle Obama--- discovering the nasty secret racism of Princeton which allowed her to go there and being half way alert discovering she was probably just not as smart as the non-Black students she found herself among… and of course she was aware of how the good liberal professors treat the hired help. No wonder many Black people voted for George Wallace…

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

AIDAN HIGGINS: How His Writing Died


I was asked by Cornelius Anthony Murphy (Assoc Prof)--- as it is listed on his e-mail---to write about Aidan Higgins since I had contributed to the Review of Contemporary Fiction a piece entitled "51 Pauses After Reading Aidan Higgins" now many years ago.

Cornelius Anthony Murphy (Assoc Prof) decided it was not for his book of essays on Aidan Higgins.

Aidan Higgins wrote two great books LANGRISHE, GO DOWN and BALCONY OF EUROPE. He also wrote some very good short descriptive travel pieces and short pungent notices in Hibernia, a newspaper in Dublin… and then he made the mistake of writing and writing and writing and writing.

Actually READING a book (LIONS OF THE GRUNEWALD by Aidan Higgins.

Got to find some therapy
This treatment is taking too long.
"Twenty four Hours"
---Ian Curtis. JOY DIVISION


Letters from Cornelius Anthony Murphy (Assoc Prof):

Any word on the Higgins article? Sorry to be a pest but the publisher is on my trail. I am hoping…

I really hope you can pull something together, about LIONS, or something else even (Balcony?) as I really…

Just checking to see if you've been able to muster any enthusiasm for the Higgins piece. I too re-read LIONS recently and am less taken with it than previously--- bad time in the game for me to shift my point of view! I hope you've found some way through the thickets that appear to have sprouted around you…

Letter in reply:

You will have an essay… but since you asked for something I will write and have I think a way into Higgins.


I must have bought LIONS OF THE GRUNEWALD by Aidan Higgins in January of 1994 because in those years I was going to London in that month for a few weeks every year. As I open the paperback, as I have been opening the paperback during the summer of 2008 and now it is the autumn and I am still opening the book: it is falling apart and the pages long ago began to brown and I am sure it will not survive for many more years.

The edition I have was published by Martin Secker and Warburg Ltd--- then part of Reed Consumer Books --- as paper original with what they fall French flaps. The name of the author is printed in a golden box. That year Secker books had a distinct look and that ended rather quickly.

Currently LIONS OF THE GRUNEWALD seems out of print both in the UK and in the US. It is available for 99p in the UK and for eight dollars in the US.

As many know Dalkey Archive has taken to reprinting many of Higgins' books and it is a noble endeavor. From the very start of that press the publication of Higgins' work was a priority.

I do not know if Dalkey will be publishing for the first time LIONS OF THE GRUNEWALD in the US… but I am pretty sure all the people who want a copy of this Higgins title already have it and it is unlikely that many people would be seeking it out.


Of course I could be wrong and hope I am wrong as everything that Higgins writes is of interest as he and Desmond Hogan and Dorothy Nelson are pretty much it when it comes to prose writing in Ireland after James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, Flann O'Brien, Francis Stuart. Of course there are many many prose writers in Ireland: almost as many as the standing army of Irish poets but but but…


Berlin is a fascinating place, maybe less so now that it has been reunited and become a sort of entertainment zone for the privileged subsidized international artistic middle class. During the time of a divided Berlin Uwe Johnson--- as readers may actually remember--- wonderfully perceptive hard earned and authentic books were set in Berlin and in that moment of two Germanys… but now as the years have gone by writers as good as Julian Rios and Ceese Nooteboom have fallen under the sway of Berlin and come to a certain defeat… and part of the reason is that they are not prepared to admit their ignorance of the complexity of Berlin--- they have to use it as background, mere background painted on…


Higgins's book is based on his own residence in Berlin--- just before the actual fall of the Berlin Wall as a guest of one of those international sinecures that the German government uses to get people to come to Berlin for a period of time…

Higgins gives into the mostly deadly of all traps: the academic literary satire… and crosses it with a sentimental entanglement of the central character Dallan Weaver who is a guest of DILDO (Deutsche-Internationale Literatur-Diesnt Organisation and it is probably right there in that footnote attached to a listing of characters, just after the CONTENTS that the book falls apart.


---It is understood that LIONS OF THE GRUNEWALD is Higgins's favorite book


The trouble continues right in the prologue with a slice of jazzed up or down potted history: "Zukov's men, the advanced spearheads, entered Berlin through the northern suburbs, screeching as they ran. The infantry went in first over the mine fields and tank traps to be blown to glory; others came on screeching wave after wave. Then the tanks went in."(P.1-2)

This is immediately followed by, "The sneery sculptor who had fluent Spanish asked Weaver what was his astrological sign." (p.2)

The word sneery, astrology and the previous ham-fisted allusion to the Battle for Berlin got me to close the novel right there the first time I tried to read the novel though I had noted that Rudolf Hess is helpfully listed with the others characters in the book as "the last Nazi in Spandau Prison." (P. x)


So, one tries again in the summer, so many years later, having remembered having defending Balcony of Europe for an early issue of the Review of Contemporary Fiction-- when it was neither profitable or even useful for a resume to echo Flann O'Brien.


Well, the Weavers ( do we really read Higgins, wife and child?) house hunt for a place during their Berlin stay. There is party going. Mention of Rudolf Hess comes before two mentions of the "bullet riddled Amerika Haus" (p33) and "Amerika Haus was bullet riddled." (p46).


"And where had the brainy Prof read that all whales have syphilis?" (p.33) It is that word brainy coupled with Prof that makes the sentence read like a bad translation…


Early on and sadly dominating the book THE AFFAIR complete with the wife Nancy, "the dispossessed and disgruntled spouse." (p.97) There will be the other woman, Lore, who will having been made pregnant: "Their child's life had been terminated in The Hague by the sinister lady abortionist…"(p.267).


Another unnecessary word: "The right-hand window of Margot Schoeller's famous bookstore…" (P.71) How could could Higgins allow his man Weaver to think that or he to write it? But it sets up a moment of letting us know that Higgins, Weaver knows Samuel Beckett who has just received the Nobel Prize. AS good anecdote is recorded, "Watt (dismissed by its author into Weaver's ear as not so much shit as dysentery." (P.73).


But the book is not all heterosexual. After all this is Berlin: "Two sad sodomites frantic with grief and betrayal were copulating in the snow, lit by the headlights of a parked car… Weaver averted his eyes as he would have looked away from a bloody traffic accident. (p.56).


12 pages are given over to Weaver's child's writing. Enough said. A sort of filler, I guess. Allows for a ink drawing by the "brilliant son" (P.87) of the author.


3 pages of dreams. No check attached for listening. At the going rate today of 150$ per fifty minutes…how many sessions would they require?


But followed up by more Dublin gossip: well that old warhorse Brendan Behan hungover demanding that his wife, "Come up here with you now, Bethrice, an' thrim me toenails." (p.135) and there is mention of "wild Ralph Cusack" (P.134) and I would have liked to have had him about for more than a name drop.


And then the reader is off to drunken Spain but we have been there and in far better verbal company in BALCONY OF EUROPE but we are quickly--- since these pages are read quickly out of embarrassment--- though it takes ages as is said but we are back in Berlin right smartly: "The British Council always gave good parties."(p202); "Lore(the mistress, girlfriend whatever as the kids might say) had discovered a good Japanese restaurant near Fat George's flat…" (P.211); "In the summertime (when the living is easy) it was a very different story."(p.216) The parenthetical phrase is Higgins and he bears full responsibility for it, sadly.


But off to Munich during Olympic season. Israelis will be murdered ( it is THAT Olympics) and now it gets cloudy. Is the following the author, Weaver or who? "When a pure negroid (small n) American could run faster, jump faster and fly first over hurdles faster than any white man, that only confirmed his own conviction abut racial degeneracy: those fellows had just come down out of the trees. (p241)


I missed listing some more "famous" people who appear or are mentioned: Per Olaf Enquist, Leni Riefenstahl, Volker Schlondorff, Margarethe von Trotta who you might like to know, "spent some time under the table retrieving poor shots, sulking 'shitshitshit!"(p243)


And not to let a name go: "Hess was still serving pit his life sentence in Spandau Prison, the Russians would not him go. (P.252).


Now that we are nearly at the end of the book a selection of letters from Berlin to Weaver and one letter from Lore that prepare us for the disappearance of the wife and how true something lives… some years after the body of the book.


And an epilogue he (whether it is Higgins or Weaver?) conflates a meeting between Gunter Grass and Max Frisch and manages to drag in Uwe Johnson and an allusion to Ingeborg Bachmann which is supposed to?... beats me, I have to point out that one of the he's or the proofreader overlooks the misspelled Frishe (p299) while making some point about the Gauloises smoked by Grass and the pipe tobacco stained fingers of Frisch…


I found a book marker reminder (though I can't explain the dates because as we know LIONS OF THE GRUNEWALD was published in 1993) of an earlier reading of LIONS OF THE GRUNEWALD in the form of a newspaper clipping, now a darker brown than the pages of the book: from the December 25, 1978 THE VILLAGER ( a local paper in Greenwich Village, NY:

DEATH ON 12TH STREET: At 6 pm on December 12, a resident of 343 West 13th Street was found by two friends hanging by the neck in his apartment. The 31 year-old resident, wearing a leather-studded collar, a gas mask with the air vents closed and other assorted sexual equipment, apparently choked to death. The case while is may be an accidental death, is being investigated by the First Homicide squad.

But this scrap can serve as a telling commentary for we know that much of LIONS OF THE GRUNEWALD appeared in previous books and while movie directors are endlessly providing new versions (think of Oliver Stone's various Final cuts of ALEXANDER) I would have had no problem---as is said--- with a book solely of observation and quotation but the sheer dreariness of the love/sexual triangle: why not just publish the divorce degree and parts of the hearing transcript if such exists?


I would like to read a NEW book by Higgins of his life in Ireland.


Aidan Higgins is still the best English-language prose stylist in the country.
---Nuala Ni. Dhomhnaill.

New York
1 October 2008

Thursday, October 2, 2008


Following the example of Witkiewicz who recorded on each of his paintings the substance that he was using as he painted, I will write that in the background I am listening or aware of PERMANENT, the Joy Division complilation.


Everyone who is walking in Paris has had these words in their head: "So this is where people come to live; I would have thought it is a city to die in."

Of course it is the first line of THE NOTEBOOKS OF MALTE LAURIDS BRIGGE by Rainer Maria Rilke in the translation by Stephen Mitchell. I noticed in St Marks last night that Dalkey Archive has just published a new translation by Burton Pike. I can't compare these lines as I didn't copy it out in the shop because I did not have a pencil along or the money to buy it. Burton Pike finished the great revised translation of Robert Musil's THE MAN WITHOUT QUALITIES... so that is one reason to buy it. The second reason is that Dalkey Archive is one of the tiny handful of literary presses that continues to do real books. The third reason to buy it beyond your own reading pleasure is to buy an extra copy for that graduating high school student you know. The fourth reason is that that the book is memorable in form and continues to delight by carefully illuminating what exactly the word sensitive means... and it avoids all the cliches that might be attendant upon such a sentence.


Turtle Point Press sent me their new Lord Berners title DRESDEN, another autobiographical text that joins three previous Berners titles: THE CHATEAU DE RESENLIEU, A DISTANT PROSPECT, COLLECTED TALES AND FANTASIES and one of the greatest books about childhood, FIRST CHILDHOOD.

One reads Berners slowly. Here is a sentence from early on in DRESDEN that makes one sad at the shortness of the book, a book beautifully designed and printed, " My mother had at first intended to accompany me to Dresden, as she had accompanied me to Resenlieu, but she was unwilling to interrupt her hunting season, and I was allowed to travel alone.

I can not comment on Berners music but he was held in high esteem by Stravinsky and that is compliment enough.


Turtle Point Press has some of the VERY BEST BOOKS IN PRINT at this moment and there are not words enough to try to convince you of your getting them right now and reading them right now:

THE DEAD OF THE HOUSE by Hannah Green. I often think that this is the perfect great American novel. In less than 200 pages it is a vision of life so luminous, so complete that of course it is known only to a few even though it is of a familiar nature: the growing up in a wealthy home near Cincinnati, of a summer holiday in Michigan, of the death of...but mark the word vision

LORD OF DARK PLACES by Hal Bennett. While I do not like to mention a detail I usually do not hold with, I will say that this is the best novel written in the 20th century in the United States by a person who happens to be Black--- but once that detail is said I will also say it is also a vision of life that is only echoed by Celine as to the true nastiness of people and the delusions that they walk though and participate can not understand the contemporary racial situation in the United States until you have read this novel which it also has to be said, is very comic when it comes to the question of penis size and lynching... which after all is said and done--- to repeat--- blah blah blah on the editorial pages of newsapers...


I should also mention that Turtle Point Press has four books from JULIEN GRACQ: KING COPHETUA, THE NARROW WATERS, THE SHAPE OF THE CITY--- a model for how to describe a city, any city, in this case Nantes--- READING WRIITING, a book that has helped me to read and which is--- thought not outwardly--- one of the best descriptions of how to read that has ever been written


And they have just done the first of a very long work by James McCourt NOW VOYAGERS; THE NIGHT SEA JOURNEY... a chracter from an earlier book, Mawrdew Czgowchwz re-appears and sets forth..

I have said that I am jealous line by line of only one book: McCourt's TIME REMAINING... when complete McCourts new work will certainly re-arrange the statues again in the garden of the world novel. It will be right there next to PARADISO by Jose Lezama Lima.


I confess again that I fear my own books will never appear in the company of the books I have just been describing from Turtle Point Press... the publisher has read and then that terrible silence...Dalkey Archive published two of them and then they never issued them in paper.. for reasons...