Monday, January 7, 2008



If the planes work I should be in Tombstone tomorrow evening.


Tonight I walked around down to Soho and then to St. Marks Bookshop. I was talking to a guy who works there about tomorrow. He publishes tiny letters occasionally in the TLS. He said, the day after you go to Tombstone I am going to Venice.

Two tomb cities, I replied.


ON THE EVE by Ivan TURGENEV was not sadly on the shelf. The guy in the shop did not know that Ezra Pound is buried in Venice. He is taking Ruskin as a guide. I suggested THE CANTOS as the best guide.


I regretted, I said, I could not travel with the necessary large library as Lamartine had done when he went to Bulgaria for the first time.

Books are so heavy, the guy said... and I could hear the understanding of the necessity of reading when traveling.


JAMES LIDDY sent me to read as I journey his little book of translations from MANDELSTAM... and I thought I won't be able to take with me THE COMPLETE CRITICAL PROSE AND LETTERS by Mandelstam: containing the absolutely essential essay on the addressee in poetry but the thought of Mandelstam lead me to remember that he had interviewed Ho Chi Minh in Moscow in 1923---"(he) breathes culture, not European culture, but perhaps the culture of the future."


And then on to my friend Al Willis who was fighting Ho Chi Minh's soldiers in Vietnam 42 years later as a young U.S. Marine from Patchogue... more thought... while in Tombstone where my guide will be CHRIST VERSUS ARIZONA by CAMILO JOSE CELA... and I will be thinking of George who is dead and who was from Bulgaria, so it is no accident that I know that ON THE EVE has a Bulgarian as a central character and how the novel ends up in Venice as I did both on the way to and on the way back from Bulgaria in 1967-68 and how to make sense of all of this will be through the example of THE APOCRYPHA by ROBERT PINGET which provides a model for the movement of time through words.


I have one errand while I travel: to finish a short notice of THE SINGING REVOLUTION, an Estonian documentary I am doing for Anna which now is crossed in my mind with the news that JAAN KROSS is dead: you might remember that tiny bit in his book of short fictions where he remembers seeing Russian soldiers standing in the National Lbrary in Estonian with axes in hand and chopping up-ended ancient Estonian books as if they were so many logs... in their effort to remove history from Estonia.


And two books which I don't know if I will get to them: the new Library of America edition of Elizabeth Bishop and KNOWLEDGE OF HELL by ANTONIO LOBO ANTUNES. I hope the title of Antunes's novel does not turn out to be an ironic commentary on this journey.