Held together by a magical string, Hogan's brutal, on-edge tellings run amok with history, blood, myth, margins, hell, and love as his wings. A hauntiHeld together by a magical string, Hogan's brutal, on-edge tellings run amok with history, blood, myth, margins, hell, and love as his wings. A haunting voice that soars above the pedestrian, this is, surprising to me, a fearless Desmond Hogan's earned masterpiece, a contemporary seer left out of the telephone directory --- don't read it....more
I'm continually revisiting this amazing work --- it's impossible to take it all in from a single reading: lines, metaphors, structure, observations, lI'm continually revisiting this amazing work --- it's impossible to take it all in from a single reading: lines, metaphors, structure, observations, language, imagery, impressions, ideas --- all working together to give us the soul of a searching, diligent man who felt time and place in order to transcend them.
A master of word, thought, conscience, heart --- WCW gives us a jewel that he struggled with over many years, a searing eye that defies its time; visionary. There are so many ... even lines ... that amaze. ...more
This is a Ripper!!! Don't think I've read anything else like it!!! Short, expressionistic blows that fluctuate between the supremely "ugly" and dreamyThis is a Ripper!!! Don't think I've read anything else like it!!! Short, expressionistic blows that fluctuate between the supremely "ugly" and dreamy beauty, between heaven and hell, violence and peace. My kind of "value-obsessed, Zoroastrian, bipolarism," but imaginative and lovely and colorful. Above all, everything is alive, particularly the imagination and inanimate objects, including the dead. Thieves, paintings, autopsies---this one is especially designed for Timmy......
"They punctured the bladder; the cold urine shimmered inside like yellow wine."...more
Certainly the possession does not last the entire way through, but even in the less interesting or repetitive poemsThis is a step towards possession.
Certainly the possession does not last the entire way through, but even in the less interesting or repetitive poems there are some jarring lines, amplified by a soul in Heat.
Like any elevated piece of literature, Flowers of Evil consumed me to such an extent that at times I forgot I was reading words on a page, its intensity moving my mind into some unknown zone where images, thoughts, and recollections screamed by, colliding with each other. So, too, did I feel at times that even the writer himself was "not all there," taken away by a demon, merely the vehicle for some phantasm. Yes, Baudelaire sold me on his deal, not merely because of content or form, but because of the legitimacy and authenticity of his spirit that comes through them. At its best I lost the idea that Baudelaire was “writing,” or “constructing thoughts and ideas.” More often I felt like I was seeing a living reality and the spirit behind it, the dreams he “knows.”
We can look at a whore and see nothing poetic just as we can look at the sun and see nothing poetic. But the poetic is everywhere and, for me, the more I can tap into, the better life is. Is it more and more rare to find a person who sees anything poetic in the sun? Is the modern mind still trying to convince itself that myth doesn’t work? Whatever one's answer to those questions, most will agree that it’s even rarer to find someone who sees anything POETIC in the heist, the hell, the holey handbag. And then even rarer yet again to find someone who can see the poetic in such things and communicate it to others on a convincing level. And then perhaps it’s only a very singular visionary who can not only see the poetic in such things, but communicate it in such a way that it creates its own inspiring beauty while remaining true to the original inspiration. Sure we have heists, whores, and holey handbags a dime a dozen, but do they even recognize their own beauty much? Are they as tuned in to their own spirit as Baudelaire was?
I hate cars, but I love to watch the rare person who is passionate and soulful about them. I don't read books on toe-picking, but show me someone passionate about their toe-picking and I'll gladly sit down beside them to observe and ask engaging questions, join in a little. Baudelaire. Hate his whoring if you will, but there is a passion, a depth, a profound nature to it that would have me in rapid pursuit to follow him anywhere. And the guy never seems disappointed! That is what twists the knife in me time and time again!
But he’s not just writing of whore houses and opium dens, telling us of their ugly and vile colors. No! He’s not just heading out on a heartless, gutless, mindless hedonistic romp. No! This is the debased as Ideal, wrapping the demon up in lovely meter, rhyme, and high metaphor, carrying the gutter into the heavens! The Saint of Whores! The Divinity of Syphilis! The God of Pooping your Pants! I love it. He loves! Not foul for a moment! There is goodness in it all!!!! I can’t even crystalize Baudelaire without sounding silly! To find Beauty in the Gutter! This is the Man! Far too much of it to originate from mere constructs and ideas. No, there are demons and gods at work.
Baudelaire wouldn’t even spit on a Renoir painting. He’d just undress it and fly. The Corpse on the lip, a taste from God. Possessed. I can not get so close to It, except through Baudelaire. Beautiful Ugliness. Goodness. When literature helps you live a new life, or at least revitalize it. ...more
Strangely, despite four decades on Earth, I have almost no familiarity with this gentleman Hans. If I can live another 4 decades, I doubt I'll forgetStrangely, despite four decades on Earth, I have almost no familiarity with this gentleman Hans. If I can live another 4 decades, I doubt I'll forget about him from here on out.
What is most generally striking/perplexing to me is how these stories came to be known as children tales, came to be widely accepted and popular rather than scorned. I don't think it's just my glasses that view Hans Christian Andersen as a soul that senses more darkness than light. “Yes, every year the trees have new, fresh leaves, but that is not true of the human heart.” (From a Window in Vartov) HCA desperately wants and loves beauty, yearns for music and poetry and life and innocence, and so we get this at the center of so many of his tales, but at the same time it is mostly apparent that these ideals are but dreams that we must continually reach for, work for, cherish when they sparingly come, because what this world is really filled with is darkness. He seems to say, feel both beauty and evil, know them both, accept them both, but my heart pains that the former will never have the upper hand.
Throughout his tales I find his dreamy poetics are amazingly served with a shimmering personal touch; they are not distant, community-built folktales. There are also wonderful juxtapositions, magical paradoxes, and a communicative simplicity that can travel, like a drop in the lake, as deeply as the reader wishes to take things.
At the same time, there are many stories of a different breed which will never make it to Disney. Stories like Two Virgins/Two Maidens, In the Duck Yard, and The Cock and the Weathercock dish out satire as sharp as any I've ever encountered. Sharp not only in its depth of understanding, but also in both heavy-handedness and bitterness. Word play, symbolism, and connections in these stories are as far from innocence and naivete as you will find.
Other not so well-known stories such as A Drop of Water and The Shadow are probably my favorites so far. Both are extremely intense and particularly revelatory regarding how HCA views human behavior and human nature. Very direct, dark and twisted, but done in unique and colorful ways, they continue to show that HCA was not a simple children's man or the one-trick pony that permeates much of his recognition.
And at some point, I don’t recall exactly when, I began to think a lot of Kafka while reading HCA. What are the connections?
In a time when the construction of myths and fairy tales is practically extinct, when even the originals are mostly watered down and considered antiquated, Mr. Andersen delivered his most pleasant winds not so long ago and they stretch back to not only the earliest of human experience, but also connect just as strongly to us sensitives amongst moderns. This is a tome to keep bedside, never finishing, never repeating.
Shaking on the way home with this book in hand, finishing the first story "Ghostless." I did not see, nor hear, anything else around me on the bus/subShaking on the way home with this book in hand, finishing the first story "Ghostless." I did not see, nor hear, anything else around me on the bus/subway ride through Philadelphia. I am not sure how I made it back to the apartment, but it has nothing to do with Swedenborg. Whatever the rest of this collection offers, Ann Pancake's name is one I will think of as often as the leaves shiver. Yes, I am ready to move.
Three days have passed since I wrote the above paragraph just after reading "Ghostless." I have now finished Ann Pancake's stories and must say this woman stays brave and intense to the very end. To describe her to someone who has not read her, I would say these stories are Breece Pancake meets Faulkner meets Virginia Woolf. Ann Pancake succeeds in so many difficult areas with this collection, crafting the stories with such delicacy and urgency. The language and lyricism is stunning, building from sounds and images, breaking all the rules of traditional sentence structure, creating word combinations that were just meant to be. But like Woolf, unlike many others, the lyricism works to build something even grander and more beautiful. She puts you in, on, and under the West Virginia dirt, quite literally and metaphorically, while simultaneously sifting and lifting and revealing that soil's mythic dimensions. You can separate her from much of the Appalachian fiction being written today: there is not a stereotype one in these stories for an outsider to latch on, but there are lots of ghosts and lots of mythic history. Chilling is one way to put it: the love which Ann Pancake put into these stories, not only from the angle of language and storytelling, but from her own spirit, puts them into a class that very few writers can touch. This is not only a talented and rare voice, but one with the vision to match....more
I considered giving this 4 stars due to some unevenness, but the best stories of the day here are legitimate classics with an original style and energI considered giving this 4 stars due to some unevenness, but the best stories of the day here are legitimate classics with an original style and energy that kept one of my eyes on the page while the other navigated ice, Philadelphia "citizenry," and large buses.
Without going too biographical, Borchert had a longstanding battle with the Gestapo and was dragged into active service by the Wehrmacht and placed on Germany's Eastern front during WWII. Conscription, prison, war, and hepatitis killed him by age 26. He is considered to be one of the best writers of "Trümmerliteratur" which focuses on the experiences of soldiers and general life during and just after the war. While this is a fair, general consideration of Borchert, I do believe his writing is limited by such categorization. Thematically he is often reminiscent of Heinrich Boll, and while many of his pieces focus on cities of rubble and lost people, soldiers returning from war, etc., both writers attempt to color and communicate the souls and experiences of existence that reach the surface due to war, but ultimately go far beyond it.
This book is a collection of stories and a play which constitute a substantial part of his literary output in such a short life. As stated above, there are some stories that did not grab or move me, but I like to remember the many good ones, no great ones, instead. At his best, Borchert shows great originality with language, assuming the translation is true to his diction. Empty streets, dark corners, lonely trams, ugly docks----all connected to the war, but yet beyond it---- and the people who inhabit them are strengths of his which are exposed and described with great beauty. Given the experiences and topics of his writing, he ironically maintains a somewhat peaceful and beautiful loll to his prose, even as dark as it is at times. There are many stories that could be picked out, but the one that grabbed me most was, "The Crows Fly Home at Night," a dark, expressionistic piece that must stack up as one of my favorite stories of all-time.
"They crouch in the dusk and damp of the shadows of houses, shunning the gateways, black as tar and tired of the pavement. They crouch in the early haze of the world's afternoon, thin-soled and coated grey with dust, belated, daydreamed into monotony. They crouch over the bottomless pit, held by the abyss, sleep-swaying with hunger and homesickness."
Of course, it is interesting to think of how Borchert's writing would have adapted and mellowed with age as he gained some distance away from the life experiences which knocked him over the head time and time again. Perhaps more peace in his life would have taken him into new and interesting directions, perhaps not. Maybe the life he lived helped produce a powerful writing that reached its apex in a desperation that would have otherwise waned. In any case, with the collection of work he left, there are pieces that deserve to be treasured in wartime, peacetime, anytime.
Well, ain't this a goddamn boring group of stories. Put ya' ta sleep. But there's a ghost creepin' through 'em that ya' might not know about, in behindWell, ain't this a goddamn boring group of stories. Put ya' ta sleep. But there's a ghost creepin' through 'em that ya' might not know about, in behind 'em ya' see. It's creakin' in my mind right now, seein' as nobody oils it much 'round here no mo'. If ya can catch a glimpse of it, might move ya' ta tears....more
This collection of short stories is even better than Winesburg, Ohio and with their diversity I find myself understanding/enjoying Anderson a great biThis collection of short stories is even better than Winesburg, Ohio and with their diversity I find myself understanding/enjoying Anderson a great bit more. For me, this is the writer who truly defined/crystallized/understood modernized America. What strikes me as different from Winesburg is that Anderson takes his soulless, lifeless characters in town and shows much more of what it is that they struggle against.....and he does so in beautiful ways. In "I Want to Know Why," we come face to face with a youth who loves the soul, the essence, the beauty of a horse......only to find another man loves the same horse only for the money which can be reaped from it. In "Seeds," the character pines, "I want more than anything else in the world to be clean." In "Brothers," the leaves themselves "should go dancing away," lending an image of "what beauty could be." In "The Man with the Trumpet," we read the desperation of one shouting for something better than humanity's normal course: "I said they might build temples to themselves." And in the novella "Out of Nowhere into Nothing," the protagonist somewhat abruptly even finds an alternative to the usual lifelessness, for at the end of the story Rosalind felt she "was a creator of light." I will be interested to go back and reread, but I do not recall any characters arriving at any desires, conclusions, or thoughts much beyond their trivial, mundane, day-to-day existence in Winesburg, Ohio.
The use of nature in this series of stories is also exceptional. While at times dry and coarse with death, it is mostly light and airy, just as Anderson's wording, to such an extent that the reader could almost float through the text. The land joins with humanity to be so airy it's almost an illusion, mirage, or apparition. This begs the question which I think Mr. Anderson would repeatedly ask: What is the essence behind all this superficial form?
I agree with my good friend and colleague, Eddie Watkins: The Library of America series needs to grant Mr. Anderson his due. I also agree with that same good friend and colleague that this book will definitely be reread. In the fall, in the woods, on a boat, in Kentucky, in Russia, with tea.......all would work well.
Glad to see Hemingway and Faulkner gave Mr. Anderson his due, because in my view they hold a hollow stick next to his pen. Entirely original and authentic: weeds, winds, phantoms.
And please remember: Chicken farming is not for you!!!! ...more
I am still dancing to these stories as the light dances inside of those mysterious parlors!!!
Yesterday, with impending diarrhea, I even danced to theI am still dancing to these stories as the light dances inside of those mysterious parlors!!!
Yesterday, with impending diarrhea, I even danced to the toilet in great cheer because I had left Felisberto on the ground by the commode after reading on the can an hour earlier. I was in bliss upon returning and spoke to the book as if it was Felisberto himself sitting there, alive in his true spirit of inanimate objects made animate. "Ah, you're still here Felisberto?" I asked, picking the book up like a soft cat while recognizing it had the power to leave as desired. After reading some more and completing my other task, I needed a wash. But before jumping in the shower I put Felisberto outside the bathroom on the carpet so he would not get wet and said, "Stay here, please."
I did not realize I had said these things until later when I began contemplating the stories again in the shower. I don't know if I spoke those words out loud, in a whisper, or only in my mind. I am not one prone to talking to myself and I don't read out loud, so Felisberto must now be a really good friend of mine.
Other times I spoke with him long after midnight, using only a dim light. Some of our best laughs together occurred then. Things were flying onto the pages as they flew off. Where is Horace and his wine from France? wine from France? wine from France?
The joy of reading, the joy of living, at least for me, is to meet humor, honesty, depth, and beauty, as opposed to hunger, superficiality, and greed...........or something like that......so forgive me one moment Felisberto:
But with Felisberto, I see no smoking mirrors, no mind games, no fabrications for a market, no bourgeois self-righteousness and moralizing, no grand constructions made with a publisher hanging over the fireplace. More than any of the obvious comparisons such as Borges, Cortazar, Marques, Rulfo, Onetti, etc., Felisberto makes me think of a Kafka-Tutuola offspring---a beautiful thought in and of itself. There is Kafka's introversion and alienation from a plastic society. And as a result of a deep desire for truth and beauty, he must search and find them in odd places, even if no one understands. From Tutuola (or any of a number of everyday traditionalists) there is the brilliant animism, dynamism, and shape shifting of objects as well as creatures, whereby anything can be possessed by various forces and energies that may tug, push one down an alleyway, or disappear behind a bean. Even light and darkness can desire a meal or provide one. There is not a self, but a collection of selves, that interplay with any other collection of particles in the universe. There may be a variety of authors who do this, including the two Argentinians and one Colombian mentioned above, but Felisberto is different for me. He is authentic and the magic in his stories blooms from experience, emotion, his real life, and some place that he can not identify---not from cafe chit-chat, loaded plots or none at all, entrenched rationalism, and haughty aperitifs. And if someone wishes to label the stories as surrealistic, they still mirror "reality," "make sense," and hold wonderful depth of human experience alongside the beauty, magic, and humor. Although he enjoys himself, this is not a game for Felisberto and these stories truly illuminate his soul, his dreams, and his love. From them I sense an authenticity akin to Kafka or Marechera, a deep authenticity that I spend a lifetime looking for.
I never read introductions (unless by the author of the book) before reading the actual stories/novel/poems, and often times I never read them at all. But being enamored by Felisberto, I went back to read Calvino's introduction immediately after finishing the last story. I suppose it's not bad, maybe it's even pretty good. Who cares? It's the world of "consciousness" again, trying to pick things apart, getting it only half-right or so, maybe, debating the differences between 32.2 and 32.3 without realizing it's infinity......and appearing sacrilegious to me. In his own almost introduction ("How Not to Explain My Stories") Felisberto wrote of his stories: "But I am also aware of their constant battle against the strangers consciousness keeps urging on them." I don't want Calvino's analysis. I want Felisberto's stories. I was even sad when I finished these stories, sad and happy and grateful, which is the definition of true romance I think.
So I must find a soft spot on the bookshelf for you, Felisberto.....so that in that place there will grow no dust, but much appreciated entangling plants for my eyes, "leaves of poetry." And I understand that sometimes you must mosey over to the toilet, crafty!, where I will find you again, and pick you up, and see what new magic you have grown while I was away, so I can grow some more too.
***** ********* ************ **********
"Besides, my partner was a city man with city ideas: he would take many of the objects back to the city with him, changing their lives to make them serve those ideas; he would dust them off and dress them up in a new coat of paint, and they would lose their soul." (pg. 41)
"Yes, that's it. You've understood. She can't go out. Sometimes she can't sleep nights thinking she has to go out the next day. She's up early in the morning preparing for it, getting all excited. But after a while it wears off, she just drops into a chair, she can't do it." (pg. 54)
"Yet I was happy that night: everything in that town was quiet and slow as the old man and I waded through leafy shadows and reflections." (pg. 54)
"Tell us something more about yourself----your personal tastes, habits, whatever." "Ah, as for that," said Horace, "I don't think it would be of any help to you in making up your scenes. For instance, I like to walk on a wooden floor sprinkled with sugar. It's the neat little sound..." (pg. 196)
"In moments of despair you shouldn't cast your body into the water but rather your thoughts, which will come back renewed and change your whole outlook on life." (p. 246)
"Around the table stood several men. One of them wore tails and was saying: 'We have to turn the blood around so it will go out the veins and back through the arteries, instead of out the arteries and back through the veins.' They all clapped and cheered, and the man in tails jumped on a horse in the courtyard and galloped off, through the applause, on clattering hooves that drew sparks from the flagstones." (pg. 176)
"I looked for my hat, which was in a different place each time I reached for it: I couldn't get hold of it or leave." (p. 170) ...more
I don't want to review this book. It's a lovely work that captures a people, a nation, a way of life, and a philosophy of living. Bjartur to the graveI don't want to review this book. It's a lovely work that captures a people, a nation, a way of life, and a philosophy of living. Bjartur to the grave!...more