Thursday, November 27, 2008

CARRIE KANIA PROVOKES ME TO WRITE

five

With a certain amount of moaning about thinking there was no one who could read my new writing with an eye to publishing it but always remembering Richard M. Elman in 1971 pronouncing: there are no undiscovered geniuses in New York and remembering even then thinking how wrong he was and surely he was saying this to be provocative though as the years went on I was of course really aware of many undiscovered great writers and the accidents of their obscurity...

six

Not totally closed down, but pretty close to it, I still read the newspapers--- kept up as they say--- but dreading discovering a name with whom I might have something in common and dis-regarding the memory of the agent who said: I can't eat lunch off of you and the probable futility of approaching... the initial establishing of credentials, the asking to be read, the sending of the manuscript and then the waiting with the sure knowledge, though drawn from the actual experience of publishing my two books, THE CORPSE DREAM OF. N. PETKOV and GOING TO PATCHOGUE (Dalkey Archive), that if an editor does not get back to you within a week there is really very very little chance they will be interested because by then they will have forgotten why they asked to see the manuscript and it will just be another thing on a pile that has to be gotten through in some fashion

eight

Could be the season but I was taken by a profile of Carrie Kania in the New York Observer and how she had re-vitalized Harper Collins' paper line and in the profile it had talked about her growing up in Wisconsin, of having been on the outside in Milwaukee during the 80s and her coming to New York to be in publishing and how she had learned of the power of books published by a certain imprint. She mentioned Grove's Black Cat and IT IS right there I probably said to myself, well she is young and yet that was how I had learned to read by trusting the New Direction imprint and the Grove Press imprint and had been published by Dalkey Archive which was inspired by those presses.

nine

I liked her emphasis in the profile on paperback originals and the possibility that they represented in terms of not a lot of money invested and their availability because most people no longer bought hardcover books...

ten

So I was composing a letter in my head to Carrie Kania and it would have begun by saying I used to visit Milwaukee in the early 80s and into the 90s to visit with James Liddy who I had first met in Dublin in 1964 and who now presided at Axel's Tavern, taught a very popular course at UWM on the Beats and who was spooked by the reality of Jeff Dahmer, the cannibal, and knowing one or two young men who had been killed by that guy... and I would have said my parents had died in exile in Menasha, Wisconsin,far from Patchogue

eleven

And while all the writers she was publishing as originals were far younger than me I did have a very good book on the so-called 60s A BEGINNING OF THE BEGINNING and AN END OF THE END...

twelve

Right here I was thinking why would someone who was really plugged into the present moment be interested in such a book?

Well, just in the talking about her own past Kania was not a total creature of the present moment and surely realized that without some knowing of what had happened...

But how was I to describe my own book that neatly contained that over-talked about moment but this time from a young man going off to East Germany from Ireland in 1965 discovering the Vietnam war, the bed of a young man.. the echoes of all that was surely coming even then and how brief it would all be... the coming back and so the necessary end of that time now on the Upper West Side in 1971-72 when people were re-enacting as theatre that iconic figure Charles Manson as they were being sneered at by Anthony Burgess who had seen it all so well... even as the weird sex lives of the Sullivanians and the...

and while the opening and last chapters of the first part of this book had been published by Barbara Probst Solomon in The Reading room I could not expect Carrie Kania to know who Solomon was or to remember that I had read at the KGB bar and I was going to say of course I had read there...

thirteen

And to try Carrie Kania's patience I would ask if she had has been reading about the recent gang killing in Patchogue when a gang of white and black kids went out looking to kill a Mexican and ended up killing an Ecuadorian as I had published only in hardcover with Dalkey Archive GOING TO PATCHOGUE which if anyone cared is the only book to explain why such things happen... and while reviewed across the country NYTIMES, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, LATIMES, full pages in The VILLAGE VOICE and NEWSDAY... now it still languished only in hardcover

fourteen

But I knew I was then venturing to the edge of looniness as no editor really wants to know all this, but I guess though one never knows...

Fifteen

SO I thought to write this as an example of how writers stew stew and toll beads of futility though in my case by reviewing with some frequency for the LA Times and in years gone by for the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune and doing interviews for Newsday and The Guardian in London I would not be talking about A BEGINNING OF THE BEGINNING and AN END OF THE END if I did not believe it was literature and deserved to be read, could hold its own against those writers I had reviewed, Bernhard, Bolano, Cela, Celine, Kerouac, Cioran, Green... since it did not just re-package the so-called 60s but tried to find a form that... and I knew one of the reasons those kids went looking to kill in Patchogue is that no one had ever taken the time to write of those lives without the dreary condescending tone of outraged journalists and that Ecuadorian man would be buried as just a victim as surely as the 60s were buried in the tawdry familiarity of "what everyone knows." and while I had not much faith in my own self I did know that A BEGINNING OF THE BEGINNING and AN END OF THE END was now distant enough from myself to be the final real word on the so-called 60s and GOING TO PATCHOGUE told a story and might just force a little a moment of hesitation as people rushed passed Patchogue on the way to the Hamptons or Fire Island...

fifteen

The picture of Carrie Kania illustrating the profile shows her reading a book DIRTY, NASTY BAD, BAD THINGS. I don't have a clue what that book might be. I guess I should have gone to Amazon but I just have to walk out of the door down here on East First Street... walk by the Catholic Worker as the guys line up in the morning...


sixteen

I am really here. I wonder if Carrie Kania...

2 comments:

Vantzeti said...

Thomas, at least your books are in the libraries. I read your "The Corpse Dream..." in Queens Public Library. Meanwhile, recently I wrote 3 essays and they were published in the bulgarian media. One of my fans travelled from the town of Stara Zagora to Sofia to buy the newspaper which piblish them because you can buy it only in Sofia and few major cities.
By the way, what does UWM mean?
Vantzeti Vassilev

Thomas McGonigle said...

University of Wisconsin Milwaukee...