This book matters to me. Here I've found phrases, images and ideas that bludgeon like a hammer or caress like a feather. Here I recognize a God I know...moreThis book matters to me. Here I've found phrases, images and ideas that bludgeon like a hammer or caress like a feather. Here I recognize a God I know. The God of recovering drug addicts and booze hounds, the God you turn to when it's three am and you're convulsing and shivering on the bathroom floor, the God I turned to when I was a young man and I had shipwrecked against the shoals of my own fucked up self. Wright writes about a Catholic God, about 5am masses, signs of the cross, and the fearful, stumbling roadblock and freedom of the path of Christ but he does it with a Zen-like lucidity and minimalism that is utterly like anything else I've read in traditional religious literature.
Wright get the absurdity of religion, of hoping against hope that there is some power out there, up there, somewhere, who gives a rat's ass about our existence. He gets the bigger impossibility too: the fact that we exist at all. The wonderful mystical `itness' of our paltry, gorgeous beyond reckoning lives. He writes beautifully about beautiful things. He writes about lives that have been wrecked and mosiaced back to some semblance of order and meaning through something that some people call grace, something so small and minute, that it remains impossible to prove except, maybe, through poetry.
I don't even know any longer if I worship the God that Wright does, but reading these poems brought tears to my eyes, shudders of recognition and what I once would've marked as a `presence' of 'the other'. And while I might have grown too cynical to chase after the sacred with the abandon of Franz Wright, his poems have once again brought me to the place in my own life where I can recognize that such beautifully harebrained interior meanderings can still have a lasting value even in an age as soul-sick and ruthlessly materialistic as our own.
Zachary Lazar’s Sway is a damned fine novel. It takes on a lot of big themes, tackles most of them well and delivers the whole thing in a kaleidoscopi...more Zachary Lazar’s Sway is a damned fine novel. It takes on a lot of big themes, tackles most of them well and delivers the whole thing in a kaleidoscopic, time-shifting narrative voice that perfectly fits the frayed, fucked up edges of the more than slightly sociopathic scene that it covers(the drug saturated, cum-stained, rock n roll drenched 60’s).
The novel follows three strand of characters, Kenneth Anger, queer occultist and underground filmmaker; Bobby" Beausoleil budding rock star and actor, object of Anger’s lust and later henchman to that most fucked up of all 60’s characters, mad, bad Charlie Manson; and last but not least Her Satanic majesties themselves: The Rolling Stones.
Lazar gets many things exactly right. He knows how the difference between mere musicians and Icons like The Stones exists in an specific but undefined geography between intent dedication to craft until your fingers bleed, and a strange, nearly numinous, alchemy that takes place when something old becomes wholly new through something close to inspiration. In this case the songwriting craft of Jagger and Richards transforming old blues forms, and the lost blonde moppet Jones further moving them towards genius with his odd penchant for picking up any insrtrument, no matter how obscure and adding some baroque brush stroke to the strange limey blues his band-mates had created. In the chapters with Beausoleil you also see the journey of a talented musician who instead of rising into greatness, falls into utter depravity, murder and psychic enslavement to another failed musician, Manson. Anger’s journey interwines with both Beausoleil’s and the Stones and in his delving into the occult and in the Stones dip shit excursions there is well, you get a pale echo, a smaller version of Beausoleil’s wrestling and falling into evil. Anger might be some sort of mage but you are never sure if he is benvolent, wicked or just wholly full of shit.
I was aware of all of these characters before I read the book, but Lazar created a whole world here that was unique but real and added to my layer of understanding of Anger, The Stones and The Manson Family Murders. He is a good writer, with better than average style and he showed mucho cajones taking on as many themes and telling the story through the eyes of such well-known protaganists. Recommended for underground film buffs, homosexual occultists, true crime fans and Stones fans. Fuck, I betcha even the Glimmer Twins and Uncle Charlie would like it.