I have not posted with much frequency this year.
It is not for a lack of wanting.
I have been reading a number of books that a year or so ago I would have written about:
THE SYMMETRY TEACHER by Andrei Bitov
THE MAUOLEUM OF LOVERS by Herve Guibert
THE COLLECTED POEMS OF SAMUEL BECKETT
ARDOR by Robert Calasso
A MILLION WINDOWS by Gerald Murnane
and the book that I have ever so slowly been reading THE WALL by H.G. Adler…ever so slowly in the way that I read the DEATH OF VIRGIL by Hermann Broch.
I did post a short notice about the 100th anniversary of the birth of the author of HOPSCOTCH--- a book that has always been a touchstone within my imaginative life--- a book that freed me from the crap that was being served up to readers in the 60 as worthy--- from those well-known bad writers (in Edward Dahlberg’s phrase) John Hawkes, Philip Roth, Saul Bellow etc etc---Hawkes in particular was the darling of so called with-it profs, but I would have said but did not have Dahlberg’s suggestion: it is better to watch daytime television than to destroy your sense of the book with the efforts of a Hawkes… another writer who was served up was Thomas Pynchon but the truth is that only V remains readable and was the only one which was readable… the profs went for other books of his which are more useful as intimidating clubs to really discourage students… but I am not even going to mention those titles…
Of course, I still treasure my discovery of Samuel Beckett’s HOW IT IS and just before that on the night ferry from Glasgow to Dublin, Beckett’s FROM AN ABANDONED WORK…I remember announcing to Professor David Stocking at Beloit College…that Beckett has ended the so-called traditional novel and the smug reply of Stocking: Beckett’s ended it for himself… of course these smug professors got theirs when they invited the feminist critical theory race-hustling post-colonial etc ideologues to take over the English departments thus sending those who still wanted to read into the science departments…
What has stopped me: I was murdered with forethought and intent by John (Jack) O’Brien, the founder and owner of of Dalkey Archive Press by his not publishing my ST. PATRICK’S DAY.
On May 20, 2012 he signed a contract to publish the book within two years. That time came and went and there was not even a note offering any sort of excuse.
Hard to believe and yet the common reaction is that this happens all the time, what’s so unusual about his actions, you got the 300$ advance and he didn’t ask for it back… you got the rights back… so what? move on… it happens all the time and no one really cares as there is no public out their hungering for more and more books, let alone your book…
Of course Dalkey Archive continues on and is now distributed by Columbia University Press. O’Brien maintains three offices here in the US, in London and in Dublin… and he has contracted to publish the Korean library of Literature in translation, beginning with 15 titles for which there has been a huge and growing demand in the United States and all other English speaking countries. O’Brien has also contracted to publish a Georgian (the country not the state) Library of Literary works beginning with 10 books for which there has been an unprecedented demand in both England and the United States.
As to O’Brien’s motive--- and that is what one waits for--- I have known Jack for more than 30 years. He is the godfather of one of my children. He has published two of my books. He even began publishing parts of ST. PATRICK’S DAY in the earliest issues of the journal he owns, THE REVIEW OF CONTEMPORARY FICTION. We have visited back and forth over the years. We have witnessed each other’s divorces and awhile ago O’Brien suffered a devastating breakdown of his circulatory system which required major life-threatening surgery. Happily he survived that surgery and while in the recovery room we talked by phone and he said, “Tom, I don’t know if I am alive or dead.”
That confession of momentary abject powerlessness and his knowing that he said this to me, I believe. is at the root of his failure to publish ST. PATRICK’S DAY.
The oldest crime in the Bible: Cain and Abel: animal sacrifice versus crops from the soil--- the sheer arbitrariness of God preferring Abel over Cain---who knows.. and that is my understanding…the god-like arbitrariness… the ultimate power of God and what Lucifer’s rebellion aspires to… And unlike Jack--- in his unloved solitary life of travelling the world looking for countries who would like to pay very big sums of money to see libraries in English of their novelists’ books… I have been blessed by meeting Anna and having been with her now for more than 20 years…
So, my final understanding is that O’Brien was exercising his freedom and so performed this sort of gratuitous act, an attempt at a mortal wound, an attempt to destroy, to hurt.
John (Jack) O’Brien had murdered me but—here is the good news--- he did not kill me as I have now learned that ST. PATRICK’S DAY another day in Dublin will be published in the Spring of 2016 and is due to receive some sort of prize.