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...