Saturday, February 2, 2008


Preface No. 1

Please listen--- as I am writing this--- to Valentin Silvestrov's DRAMA just released by Koch...the first cut is Post Scriptum... in the little description of the piece... "a post script to Mozart"... all that is left are the strands and tendrils of what went before; "beautiful ruins" as one commentator referred to it.

Preface No. 2

At day's end I have been reading THE PREFERENCE FOR THE PRIMITIVE by E. H. Gombrich. "This book is about a movement of taste that came to its climax during my lifetime."

Preface No. 3

At day's end and in the afternoon I have been reading brutt, or The Sighing Gardens by Friederike Mayrocker. There are umlauts over the first u and the last o.

First page begins:

step-by-step one foot and then the other leaving the house less and less often walking more and more slowly as if A HOBBLE, A WEIR, A DAM had been built into you, down there, and less and less interested in going out because now seeing less well--- put glasses on take glasses off: both equally bothersome

First page of second section begins four pages later:

oh these are making me happy again, cascading geraniums, and I'm raking out what there is to be raked out, I tell Blum, this old manuscript, once half-gone, I say, now seems to have found new life

The book will continue on like this for 265 pages. Mayrocker is author of more than 50 books of which two others have been translated: NIGHT TRAIN and HEILIGENANSTALT.
She was born in 1924. Her writing is more innovative,refreshing, interesting and simply better than 95 to 98 percent of what I saw this morning at the book fair at the AWP in the Hilton Hotel on Sixth Avenue. Sadly even her publisher in this country Northwestern University Press did not have this their latest book on display.

Preface No. 4

The AWP, Associated Writing Programs annual conference. Thousands of writers and teachers of writing. The proliferation, little imagined by R. V. Cassill and George Garrett all those years ago, probably over a bottle of whiskey as C.D. Wright mentioned--- she of course connected forever to Frank Stanford, who I remember meeting at the Hollins Conference in 1970... not long before his suicide::::: more material for the memoirs and I walked like a ghost through those publishers and programs: now there is even a creative writing program in Camden, New Jersey and at further flung places, Tempe, Arizona, Southern Indiana State, Victoria, Texas, Southampton, Long Island, New York... one can go on beyond the writing factories at NYU, Columbia, Iowa and end up in England where there is a National Association of Writers in Education and something called Center for New Writing at Manchester University which comes complete with Research Fellows and I could not make up this sentence from one of those bios, "Joe is also lead vocalist with "electo death pop band" Performance. And Martin Amis has been appointed Professor of Creative Writing there so I guess it paid him well to get the 60,000 dollars worth of dental implants as was reported on Page Six of the New York Pst

Preface No. 5

Martin Riker at Dalkey Archive gave me the latest issue of the Review of Contemporary Fiction devoted to the totally unknown JUAN EMAR whose magnum opus UMBRAL is 5,000 pages long and was only published posthumously. We talked of that other unknown MACEDONIO FERNANDEZ of whom Borges wrote, "He lived (more than any other person I have ever known) to think. Every day he abandoned himself to the vicissitudes and surprises of thoughts as a swimmer is borne along by the current of a great river, and that mode of thinking called writing did not cost him the least effort."

(now you see the reason for Preface No.1)

I did not ask Martin about the email I had just sent him about the possibility of doing GOING TO PATCHOGUE in paper which Dalkey Archive had successfully published in hardcover. Everywhere about me people were getting details about submissions, whenand how for journals, books and contests.

Of course the contests are a version of a Ponzi scheme. You have to pay an entrance fee and out of the collected entrance fees the press gets the money to publish the one winning book... you can imagine the fraud--- and now they even offer second third place finishers, a detail to go on the resume.

Preface No. 6

At LES FIGUES PRESS STAN APPS said he remembered briefly sharing an adjunct office with me at John Jay College of Criminal Knowledge. It was nice to be remembered but I did not have the cash in pocket to buy his book as I had bought SNOWED UNDER by Antje Ravic Strubel just before... and now I think I regret buying the Strubel because the blurb by Michael Henry Heim, "If you still harbor a prejudice against those endless and endlessly metaphysical German novels, give..." I should have judged the book better by the cover because the author has her fashion hair thrust into your eyes...

Apps has been on that calvary of academic posts that have taken him from John Jay to a community college in Los Angles to the University of Tampa, if I remember correctly...

Preface No. 7

From a review by Frederick Raphael of a book of Graham Greene letters: smacks of the chilly cheeriness from the man the French were said to pronounce "grim grin."