Tuesday, March 17, 2009

NEW and OLD: Lim, Marten and Fine

In the background Joy Division as I type.


In the mail:
They came to me with compliments about this blog.

I have tried to read each of the books.
I know that Marten has published an earlier book with Turtle Point Press.
I am interested in why I have not read more.
The Marten book is in the tradition of Bataille’s The Story of the Eye.
I am probably not strong enough to read about a janitor and what he collects.
FOG & CAR by LIM is more appealing but I can’t get beyond the names: MR FOG and SARAH CAR.

Publishers objected to MURPHY and SB was willing to change it to any name they wanted.

I liked the short paragraphs, the short chapters. And I liked the reported reading within the book.

No blurb from Gordon Lish who I had thought dead but whose ghost must have blurbed Marten’s book and I guess it would be inevitable that such a person is one of the undead.

Steve Katz blurbed the Lim book.
Boy, he’s been around a long time. In 1968 I had liked his EXAGGERATIONS OF PETER PRINCE. But then he went on and on writing and even becoming a tenured professor and director of creative writing didn’t stop him and was published in all those places that specialize in log-rolling--- you publish my book and I’ll publish your book…

BUT: FOG & CAR seems to be a book that has to be gotten out of the way. It is too long and not for a moment do I like the division into a sort of his and her version. At least many pages have a lot of which space but that forces the reader to look at each and every word, and probably with the eraser part of the pencil…
BUT now that the book is done with and one is heartened to see that Mr. Lim is a high school librarian, a socially useful profession.


In the early 1970s Alfred Knopf published four novels in illustrated laminated hard covers without dust jackets. They charged $3.50 each. It was an attempt to bridge the gap between hard covers and paperbacks. There was a book each from David Ohle and Kathy Black and two novels by Warren Fine. Fine had previous published THE ARTIFICIAL TRAVELER and a tale in the New American Review, The Mousechildren and The Famous Collector. The two Knopf novels are: IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM and THEIR FAMILY. Both novels are in the imagined voices of settlers on the early American frontier in 1779 and 1800… The books gathered tiny reviews… they did not seem relevant in that time in which Ellen Willis, a then prominent Village Voice writer, could seriously write that good writing is counter-revolutionary.


How to persuade people to read them, find them…

Greg Kuzma, a poet who once knew Fine, wrote me of Fine’s drinking himself to death in the 1980s having finished one more still unpublished novel, THIRST, though Kuzma couldn’t find it when he went to look for the manuscript.

Kuzma send me a poem he had written about Fine which contains these lines that can serve both as a commentary on SECTION ONE OF THIS POST and on…

I read/ another book of his (Fine’s) after his death/ forty pages of In The Animal Kingdom./ There were no two sentences alike,/ and not a single one I’d ever seen/ That’s the sort of writer he was./ Daring and original and strange./ I stopped reading the book. It was/ too much work. Besides, I said/ Warren’s dead. What does it matter?


Anonymous said...

That would be Kathy rather than Karen Black, and the book (her only one to see print)is "Riches And Fame And The Pleasures Of Sense," and if the gentle reader can imagine early Tom Robbins rewritten by a Sarah Lawrence girl from the East Sixties or Seventies (vintage 1969 or 1970) trying to be hippy-dippy, that conveys the volume's general style and mood. I used to have it, and sold it after thumbing thru a few pages.

Thomas McGonigle said...

will correct

Anonymous said...

Knopf also published Stanley Crawford's Log of the S.S. The Mrs. Unguentine around the same time. A fine book.

Thomas McGonigle said...

Again someone is right. Were there moe than these five laminated hardcovers without dust jackets from Knopf in the early 70's?

Anonymous said...

Steve Katz's "Saw" and Earl Mac Rauch's "Arkansas Adios" were two other novels Knopf published in the same format at the time and there were a few others. Crawford's "Unguentine" seems to have been the only one that was subsequently reprinted.

Ah, what would Bob Gottlieb remember about this experiment? He told Richard Yates's biographer Blake Bailey that he didn't even remember editing Yates's "A Special Providence," and Yates was always more prominent than any of these writers.

More on Kathy Black can be found at www.kathyseal.net. She's from Philly, not the Upper East Side, and went to Barnard, not Sarah Lawrence.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the bio information on Warren Fine. I am sad to learn he is dead - although i wondered when I googled his name to find out what he was doing lately and found so little information about him. It is a shame that such a good writer is so forgotten yet there are page after page of facebook and twitter entries about nothing of consequence. I have all of Warren Fine's books and plan to reread them all. I have been thinking about him lately. He was such a sensitive and gentle writer and his words were so beautiful. He had a lovely vision of reality. I think he was ahead of his time and that many new age folks today would, perhaps, better understand what he was conveying of the non-linear and fluid nature of time and space around us. I am sorry that in his personal life he was violent toward himself - as evidenced by drinking himself to death. Thank you for writing of him.