Tentatively, > Books: literature (332)
Jan 01, 1976
really liked it
Emmett Grogan's Final Score
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - April 27, 2023
I read Grogan's Ringolevio long ago, probably in the 1980s, & had review of
Emmett Grogan's Final Score
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - April 27, 2023
I read Grogan's Ringolevio long ago, probably in the 1980s, & had great admiration for it & for its author & his friends. It made it to my "Top 100 Books" online list: http://idioideo.pleintekst.nl/Top100B... . Recently, I was doing some research for a review I was writing about Peter Werbe's Summer on Fire, A Detroit Novel ( http://idioideo.pleintekst.nl/CriticW... ) & for that review I wrote:
"I move on to checking Grogan's Ringolevio (1969-1972) on the Digger Archives ( https://www.diggers.org/ringolevio.htm ). Instead, I watched the TV program called "To Tell the Truth" w/ Emmett Grogan on it. Oh. My. Fucking. God. Even tho I stopped watching TV in 1969 or 1970 I highly recommend checking this out. On the show Grogan makes a quick plug for a bk he's writing: "I'm also writing a book on the impossibility of fair play in democratic society because of loneliness." Wow. I'm intrigued, I'd like to read an elaboration of that b/c it resonates w/ me. The only other bk of his that I found online is a novel called Final Score so I bought a copy."
I was hoping that Final Score wd be Grogan's bk "on the impossibility of fair play in democratic society because of loneliness." As far as I can tell, it isn't that bk - unless one abstracts that msg from the plot, wch I didn't. Alas, while I liked this bk, if I hadn't known Grogan's intense background I wdn't've necessarily found this to be that intriguing - after all, there're plenty of heist novels out & about & most of them are probably written by people who, at least, (sortof) know what they're writing about - as Grogan does here. If anyone out there knows of Grogan's ms for his bk "on the impossibility of fair play in democratic society" existing I'd be interested in publishing it.
There're several main characters in Final Score: a quartet of 'anti-heros', hardened criminals skilled at their trades, & a religious nut serial killer whose path crosses theirs.
""Shot dead right through the back of her head, Poley."
""Like I said, it's funny. Ain't it?"
""Hey, Cobez! They shot Bertha May, too!"
""Who's they?"" - p 6
The killer, Billy Jamaic, picks his victims based on whether they seem down & out to him. He considers it a mercy killing.
"After one of his bullets introduced an unfortunate to his Maker, Billy tried his best to see that the meeting would be cordial. He did this through the application of the holy oil to the organs of sense and a recital of prayer over the newly departed." - p 9
Grogan does seem to have substantial knowledge of criminal trades, presumably gleaned from direct experience & information given to him by trusted associates.
"Pete Man wasn't anybody's name. It was slang for safe-cracker. A professional who just leaves word because it's the other guy's prerogative to respond. Leo Warren was out and the caper was on. It was only up to Terry whether or not he himself was in." - p 18
"Leo was wise to what the LA police do when they come upon a crime in progress. They shoot to kill. His only chance was his nakedness. It's relatively easy for officials to explain away the death of an unarmed man as justifiable homicide. But they'd be hard put to find an excuse for the shotgunning of a nude male. Unless the cops swore they mistook his penis for a pistol." - p 24
There's plenty of dark humor in Final Score & that might be what distinguishes it the most from other 'hard-boiled' crime fiction.
Final Score is copyrighted 1976, 2 yrs after the February 4, 1974, kidnapping of Patty Hearst by the SLA; & 2 yrs before Grogan's death on April 6, 1978.
"Since the Hearst girl had been kidnapped, the whole Bay area was burning with heat. There was no way Leo could have arranged for a set of papers through normally simple channels without the possibility of a rumble. Every cop's mind was like a dogcatcher's." - p 46
The dark humor is probably most evident in the descriptions of Jamaic, whose clumsiness is of slapstick proportions.
"He would have murmured a pleasant "alleluia" if the steam hadn't misted him from the mirror, nor the bath overflowed. Instead, he yelped and charged the tub, plunging his hand into the hot water to unplug the drain. Unfortunately, the hand he chose for the task was the same which held the .32 automatic, and the instant the fingers of that hand merged with the scalding water, they flinched and the trigger jerked off a round. Hand and weapon recoiled simultaneously from the bath. The bullet mushroomed in the rubber stopper, popping it from the mouth of the drain." - p 64
It was a mild surprise to see a bit of Dickens appear. "Fagin", of course, was a villain in Dickens's Oliver Twist who taught young boys to commit crime & then lived off their spoils. Dickens's novel having been written in 1838, the perseverance of "fagin" as a term shows that his sense of the 'bad guy' is still one many can identify w/.
"A shrewd, shifty, unpleasant little nickle-nurser of an old gink entered as if he was about to begin scattering pennies around the barroom. He was a small-time fagin who set up marks for others to score. By always speaking in a creaky undertone, he acquired the name Squeaker. The greed in his aging, hollow eyes brought a grin of recognition to Leo Warren's face. He stood up, stretched his arms, and said, "There's one thing I'm sure about that saloon."
""What's that?" Terry said.
""I sure enuf ain't never going in there," Leo said. "Specially with lying sacks of shit like Squeaker around. He'd make me in a second and trade me in a minute. That cocksucker's been dropping dimes on people fro twenty years. Beats me how the fuckin' snitch is still alive. Why they let him work outta there in the first place?"" - p 69
More dark humor:
"After the passengers had fallen over each other and spilled into the street, heads began popping out of windows and doorways and peering from slowly moving cars to observe the riotous mass that was spreading and swelling around the Flatbush Avenue bus whose driver was enduring more nausea crawling around his stomach, until the corner cop entered and poked him with his club and pulled him from his seat and told him to come on outside which he did, after heaving his guts up on the nape of the cop's neck, splashing it chicken-noodle-soup warm, with the frostbitten cop stiffening as the warmth trickled down his spine so smoothly that it relaxed his bladder completely and he took a throughly comfortable piss in his pants beneath his closed rain slicker." - p 75
"A bus! Yessir, the contract on Doctor David Leigh Rabinovitch aka Arthur Skidmore was filled today by our man from Teamsters Local 007. A perfect hit, sir. He used a bus. Hit him with a plain old city bus, Splat!" - p 76
The details about deactivating alarms & robbing safes seem accurate to me - although I imagine things have changed these 47 yrs later.
"The Ford sided to the curb and Terry walked over to the telephone. He dropped in a dime, dialed a number, and listened to it ring a few times. He then jammed a celluloid splinter beneath the cradle to prevent an accidental disconnection and cut the coiled wire from the side of the box, tossing the receiver into some shrubbery. He returned to the car and they drove off.
"The number was one of two at the plumbing supply company. The line was used as an inexpensive alarm system, known as a "dialer." When the alarm was activated by an intrusion, it was set to automatically ring a secret precoded telephone number at both partners' nearby homes with a recording stating that a burglary was occurring on their premises. Terry had easily deactivated the system by occupying the only free line on which the dialer could operate." - p 86
"Leo was behind the building, kneeling over a utility grate. A combination padlock lay open on the ground beside him. It was opened because a few weeks earlier, DayDream had copied the serial numbers stamped on its exterior and Terry located them in his locksmith's reference books, then cross-indexed the numbers to find the factory-set combination which Leo simply dialed to unlock the grate and get at the alarm's self-contained switch enclosed in a small weatherproof housing unit." - p 98
Even tho the novel's basically crime fiction, a subtext of socio-political observation peeks thru from time-to-time.
""Ninety seconds, all he said was how glad he was to be back on the air to tell everybody what Esso wanted the country to know and he never says. But on the next commercial break, he's back with all sorts of visual aids and on-and-on reasons about why Esso's changing its name to Exxon. The third segment, he mourns the passing of Esso for obvious sentimental reasons, but times are changing and sentiment can't stand in the way of progress, so remember, 'Exxon.' In the final part, the animated tiger wraps it all up with some futuristic nonsense about why it has to be Exxon. To further illustrate this point, the tiger says he's gonna stay around for as long as it takes to drum it into our heads.
""The tiger wasn't kidding. That month, month and a half, I drove over seven, eight thousand miles of road. Everywhere I went, Esso was being changed to Exxon. Service stations, as part of America as the corner drugstore, changed into abstract symbols. Esso meant gas and oil. Exxon means power.["]" - p 184
&, yet, at the same time, the character who's giving this speech is just being manipulated by Terry - who's pretending to be an environmental activist to get the speaker's cooperation.
""Well, the nonsense was stopped is all," Terry said. "Hard and quick. Made the survival of the environment into an unpopular cause with the phony energy crisis routine's going on. Put ecology down, same way any interference always gets put down. With power.["]" - p 186
"The Arab oil embargo of 1973 put the United States economy on the back foot, causing fuel shortages, a quadrupling of oil prices and long lines at gas stations." - https://www.history.com/news/energy-c...
It's funny for me to remember those days in retrospect. The 'gas crisis' wd've been fairly contemporary as of the time of the writing of this bk. I was alive at the time, 19 & 20 yrs old, I had my driver's license, & I lived w/ my mom & stepdad. Being the youngest in the family getting gas devolved to me at least once during this time. The gas-lines stretched out of the gas stn lot to the street for 50 or 60 cars. I remember gas being as cheap as 25¢ a gallon in 1972 so I reckon it went up to a dollar or so by this time. People were outaged then but, now, a dollar wd seem incredibly cheap.
Terry creates a distraction & a false lead to direct attn away from where he & Leo are about to perpetrate their next theft.
"From the case, he took a piece of cardboard with letters cut out and taped it to a wall, spraying it with the paint. The stencil read WOBBLIES UNDERGROUND. He peeled it off and, holding it by the strip of tape, ran with the case to the far end of the floor, where he repeated the procedure in the space by the freight elevator.
"With the television lenses sprayed and the stencil lettered on a wall and the last flare burning atop the elevator button, Terry tossed the paint can aside and pulled the pins on three more smoke bombs, exploding them in different directions on the floor. he checked his watch. It was 5:13:25." - p 205
Grogan is positively sardonic. Terry & Leo & DayDream are shown to have a genius for their respective crafts, the heist is pulled off - &, yet? ...more
Notes are private!
Apr 15, 2023
Apr 27, 2023
Jan 01, 2010
really liked it
Claudia Piñeiro's Thursday Night Widows
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - April 7-8, 2023
I had this shelved in my personal library under "Mys review of
Claudia Piñeiro's Thursday Night Widows
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - April 7-8, 2023
I had this shelved in my personal library under "Mysteries" b/c I thought it was crime fiction. I was reading it w/ that categorization in mind. Hence, when people die near the beginning I was waiting for a crime to be committed as the bk delved into backstory. Well, ok, a crime was committed but I'm going to reshelve this as "Literature". I'm not saying that as a criticism, I enjoyed this bk very much.
The story takes place in a gated community in Argentina during an ongoing economic crisis. That, in itself, was interesting to me & was sufficient to keep me engaged. Gated communities are, of course, for the upper middle class & beyond - Argentina being no exception.
"It's called The Cascade Heights Country Club. Most of us shorten the name to "The Cascade" and a few people call it "The Heights". It was a golf course, tennis courts, swimming pool and two club houses. And private security. Fifteen security guards working shifts during the day, and twenty-two at night. That's more than five hundred acres of land, accessible only to us or to people authorized by one of us." - p 21
"We'd all love to live in a cul-de-sac. Outside a gated community, it would be hair-raising to walk down that sort of street, especially at night; you'd be afraid of being attacked, or ambushed. But not in The Cascade – that wouldn't be possible; you can walk wherever you like, at any hour, safe in the knowledge that nothing bad will happen to you." - p 23
"To stand at the tee on the first hole and let your eyes wander over a vista of never-ending green is a privilege that those of us who live in Cascade Heights sometimes take for granted. Until we lose it. People get accustomed to what they have – especially when what they have is wonderful. Many of us can go for months without playing a single hole, as if we didn't care that the course was a few yards from our house and entirely at our disposal.
"You don't have to be a golfer to enjoy such natural beauty – "natural" because it comprises grass, trees and lakes, not "natural" in the sense of belonging to a landscape that was here before we arrived. This used to be a swamp. The course was designed by engineer Pérez Echeverría" - p 70
The detail about a person who keeps fake bks on their bkshelf for 'show' amuses me. Such people do exist. I worked in the bkstore business for 8 yrs & there were people who just wanted bks for show & didn't care what their content was.
"Meanwhile I took care of the book, dusting off Juani's footprint. Returning it to the shelf, I noticed how light it was, and turned it over. It was hollow. There were no pages inside, just hard covers: a box of fake literature. On the spine I read Faust, by Goethe. I put it in its place, between Calderón de la Barca's Life is a Dream and Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment. All of them were hollow. To the right of these there were two or three other classics, then the sequence was repeated: Life is a Dream, Faust, Crime and Punishment, in gold filigree letters. The same series was on every shelf." - p 29
One of those fake bks wd've made a good hiding place.
It was the details about how life functions in the gated community that kept me interested, they built a picture. In this case, one woman resident is tending to the plants of another.
"Teresa left the hosepipe to one side and tried to straighten a papyrus that had inclined too much towards the sun, upsetting the symmetry of the border. Lala bent down to help her.
"Listen, honey, I know your man's got no job, and everything's grim, but this is about more than that. Don't let yourself get pulled down by his depression." Teresa let the papyrus go and stood up. "This will have to be tied, because otherwise it's not going to stay. It's trying to rebel. I mean, it's why we have savings, isn't it? For emergencies like this." Teresa took out of her pocket a little reel of ochre-coloured twine and, with Lala's help, secured the plant. "Recycled sisal thread – never have anything non-biodegradable in your garden. Lala helped her to attach the plant's tie. "Think about it: the centuries go by, we are gone, and the plastic's still there. Speaking of plastic, weren't you going to get your tits done this year?"" - p 154
"El Tano was checking his emails. There was a note inviting him to a course on "Business management in the new millenium"; an email from an old university friend, attaching a CV "in case you hear of anything"; a chain letter that must not be broken and which he broke by hitting "delete"; a bulletin from an economic service explaining how Standard & Poor calculated a country's risk index, and two or three other bits of junk. No responses to any of the searches put out on his behalf by the headhunters. Actually, there was one: "This search has been momentarily suspended. We'll keep in touch. Thank you."" - p 180
The well-to-do people in the Cascade are being hit by the recession but they're keeping up appearances as long as they can. The bread-winners are living off of stale bread & the wives are making money thru services offered to the Cascade residents themselves. One handles real estate as residents resort to selling their homes. Their private security force protects them & any internal problems are handled w/o police - instead they enforce their own senses of propriety. It's a very safe place to live.
"The Discipline Committee comprises three country club members. They deal with any infraction reported within the community. The talk is always of "infractions" rather than "crimes," because technically there are no crimes in Cascade Heights. Except for those that may be committed by servicemen, domestic staff or other workers, but in those cases, the matter proceeds along different lines. As regards members of The Cascade, if one of them, or their children, relations or friends commits a crime, no formal report is made to any authority outside the gates of the neighborhood. We try to resolve everything behind closed doors. Behind the barriers. Theft, collisions, assault: all kinds of infractions come before the Discipline Committee." - p 206
It's sort of a rich person's anarchy, a way of saving face & keeping the peace.
The ecological discussion of earlier was a hint of things to come.
"I would not let them remove Ronie's pins. Then I thought of silicone implants, too. Silicone is another intruder that outlives its host. Implants would survive burial, the body's wastage, the damp soil, the worms. In my grave someone will one day find two silicone globes. For what they were worth... They will find silicone globes in the graves of almost all my female neighbors, too. I imagined the private cemetery where they buried the women from Cascade Heights sown with silicone globes, orphaned now from the breasts that had owned them, six feet below that immaculate lawn. Bones, mud and silicone. And teeth. And pins." - p 246
Now imagine the remains being exhumed by beings who don't know any better. They might think that the creatures WERE globes, conjoined globes, perhaps. Or they might think that as the bodies decayed they became purified into globes, perhaps a religion wd be built around these conclusions.
Hints of the attacks on the USA that happened on September 11, 2001, are represented as destabalizing the entire world's economy - even that of Argentina.
"The television was on and a reporter was announcing an imminent attack on the part of the United States against the country thought to be responsible for the Twin Towers atrocity." - p 269
There's so much more to be sd about this bk but I think this background sketch is enuf on its own. Recommended. ...more
Notes are private!
Mar 31, 2023
Apr 08, 2023
May 01, 2022
really liked it
Peter Lamborn Wilson's Conversazione
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - March 1, 2023
For the complete review go here: http://idioideo.pleintek review of
Peter Lamborn Wilson's Conversazione
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - March 1, 2023
For the complete review go here: http://idioideo.pleintekst.nl/CriticW...
PLW & I started corresponding w/ each other sometime in the mid 1980s, possibly as early as before 1984. I don't know wch of us initiated the exchange, we were both very active in outreach, looking for fellow travelers. I even sent him a copy of my very 1st bk, something that I'm unlikely to do now, they're rare enuf so that I charge $50 for one. Our correspondence wasn't frequent, probably less than 1 thing a yr up 'til about 1996, followed by a roughly 15 yr hiatus when we reconnected when I visited him in his home in New Paltz at the end of 2010.
Now Peter is dead. Long Live Peter Lamborn Wilson!! He & I crossed paths occasionally: at the Without Borders Anarchist Gathering in San Francisco in 1989, at Dreamtime Village in 1992, at the aforementioned home in December, 2010, & probably elsewhere, maybe NYC. It seems to me that we'd already met in the flesh by SF b/c I remember immediately recognizing him & talking to him there. The point is, we knew each other for almost 40 yrs, I'd read at least 4 or 5 of his bks during that time, I liked his bks, I liked him personally.. &, yet, I never got to know him as well as I shd have.. & now he's dead & it's too late. I find that I miss him very much already.
I got this bk for the partially egotistical reason that the editor of "No Quarter" zine told me that Peter calls me a "genius" in it. No Quarter published an excellent memorial issue re PLW. I don't get compliments very often so I esp appreciate one from someone whose opinion I respect. Of course, I also got this bk b/c I wanted to read what're at least close to Peter's last words in print up to now. PLW was an excellent conversationalist, he was always knowledgable & always extremely inspired, AND friendly. All 3 of those qualities seem underappreciated to me at times.
"Foods you personally should never have eaten."
"I had an idea some years ago, and I think it's a fairly original idea, because I at least have not come across it in anybody's writing, and that is that Christianity is the only religion in the world that has no food taboos—and which in fact is based on overthrowing food taboos. In other words, the basis of Christianity, if you read the bible straight on, is oh you can eat pig now, you can have pigs, you can have crabs, you can have lobsters, it's what the angel tells Saint Peter: it's not important what goes into your mouth, but what comes out, in other words what you say. By which I think the angel meant inspiration. How inspired is your speech. How true is your speech. That's what's important." - pp 9-10
Had you ever thought about that? Christianity having no food taboos? I hadn't, so I get interested. Of course, whether that's true or not might be another thing. I certainly don't know about all religions.
"The founder of Futurism, Marinetti, wrote a whole cookbook.
"TP: You've read it?
"PLW: I've seen it, I've not managed to get hold of it and read the whole thing. One thing I remember is that he said there would be no pasta recipes in that book. That pasta was destroying the Italian personality. We futurists are going to give up eating pasta." - pp 14-15
& I HAVE a copy of the English translation of Marinetti's The Futurist Cookbook but can't locate it at the moment in either my "Miscellaneous" or my "Art" sections of my personal library. I remember some of the recipes as humorously inedible so I was hoping to quote one of those. Instead, I'll just have to quote a June 23, 2022 article by Amanda Arnold that I found online:
"In 1932, a charismatic Italian poet with a propensity for provocation declared war on his country’s most sacred idol: pasta. It was “an absurd Italian gastronomic religion,” Filippo Tommaso Marinetti decried in The Futurist Cookbook, and those known to enjoy the “passéist” dish were “melancholy types” who “carry its ruins in their stomachs like archaeologists.” They suffered from “incurable sadness,” he railed against his fellow countrymen. And they were weak, pessimistic, and maybe even impotent.
"In short, pasta was emasculating. And emasculation had no place in Italian Futurism, the bizarre and nationalist art movement founded by Marinetti in 1909 on the belief that Italy could never gain primacy if its feeble men were so preoccupied with history and tradition. For a strong, Futuristic Italian man to exist, Marinetti wanted anything that celebrated the country’s heritage literally destroyed—museums, libraries, even spaghetti."
"Other heroes of food?
"Charles Fourier, the Utopian Socialist, was a distant cousin of Brillat-Saverin, as it happens. He invented the term gastrosophy. He took food very seriously, and in his utopia there were whole societies of people who specilaized in growing and eating one kind of pear. There were people who were, not just banquet societies, but banquet societies that specialized in like, old roosters. Old roosters as opposed to fresh young hens. A lot of taste in old roosters, if you know how to cook them right, they can be quite great. Roland Barthes, taking a hint from Fourier, wrote about his favorite meal, which was old rooster accompanied by couscous with rancid butter. He meant that when butter gets sort of cheesy, people call it rancid but it isn't really rancid, it's just butter on its way to being cheese. So in other words, very strong flavors, and he dedicated that meal to Fourier. He wrote an essay about Fourier, a very good essay. Also—the Russian scientist N.N. Vavilov who discovered the origins of apples and cannabis. Stalin murdered him." - pp 18-19
& PLW wrote a small Fourier related bk called The Universe - a mirror of itself published by Miekal And & Elizabeth Was's Xexoxial Endarchy in 1992. I was at Dreamtime Village when they were working on the bk & I was delighted that PLW knew about Fourier who was someone I'd had interest in. In fact, I'm credited in the bk as having done "typesetting", something I don't actually remember my doing. Fourier predicted that followers of his philosophy wd grow tails w/ hands on the end & an eyeball in the palm. This appendage was dubbed the "archibras". I have a tattoo of one in motion w/ 6 fingers on my lower back where the tail wd hypothetically grow.
"PLW: Now you're asking not for an objective but a subjective view and I have to say that the one thing I've found about old age and debility is that one by one the pleasures leave you. You simply can't do them anymore. If you try to spend a charming evening drinking champagne and eating fried oysters, you're very likely to deeply regret it the next day. Or even immediately. So right now I feel denuded one by one of the things that I always considered to be pleasures in my life. I don't smoke anymore. I don't smoke pot anymore. I barely drink alcohol anymore. There's so many foods that I can't eat, that my diet is ridiculous, might as well be puritanical, but it isn't really because it's not based on any kind of logic, it has to do with certain chemicals that I can't have anymore. And so on and so forth, and of course the greatest pleasure of all, which is love or sexuality is pretty much closed to old farts."
"Everyone always says when I go on my Luddite rant and rave, well at least there's one thing that's really progress and that's modern medicine. And I say no, I'm sorry, I have to give you a critique on that, too. As my friend Jake said, well I expected nothing less. But I have a very deep critique of it, it's not my critique alone, it also comes from the journalist Barbara Ehrenreich who has written on the subject very brilliantly, I recommend her work on big med to everybody." - p 35
This delights me b/c I'm extremely critical of the Medical Industry & I've written 2 llloooonnggg bks on the subject: Unconscious Suffocation - A Personal Journey through the PANDEMIC PANIC ( http://idioideo.pleintekst.nl/Book202... ) & its sequel of sorts: THE SCIENCE (volume 1) ( http://idioideo.pleintekst.nl/Book202... ). In fact, what modern medicine represents to me is an opportunity to have oneself experimented on at great cost so that a side-effect can result that is, in turn, experimented on at great cost, ad nauseum until one's financial resources are fully tapped out & one dies. AND to be treated like an imbecile by people who ARE imbeciles if one dares to offer critical analysis.
"When the drug for Hepatitis C came on the market, I think it was, what—$600.00 per pill?" - p 36
According to a publication called "The Medical Letter" that provides drug information to drs w/o influence from the pharmaceutical industry: "one dose of Hemgenix costs $3,500,000." Hemgenix is a gene therapy used for the treatment of hemophilia B. That's the most extreme example that I know of of the prohibitive cost of 'modern medicine'. What happened to the idea of taking care of oneself & having a knowledge of local plants w/ medicinal qualities that cd be picked at no cost? If the Medical Industry has its way such things will be completely replaced by EXPENSIVE PRODUCTS. Buy your health from us, WE OWN IT!
"But I've been told that back in the days of late communism, goulash communism, that there was a big sexual boom in Hungary.
"TP: As a child I remember seeing people walk around almost naked, in nothing but gauze veils or whatever. Scandalous stuff like that.
"PLW: By the river you mean?
"TP: No, anywhere. Down the street. I mean, this is mid '90's, so maybe it's a survival of what you're talking about." - p 41
I was in Hungary in 1997 & I remember seeing a woman walking in Budapest wearing a pair of shorts that were closer to a thong than to pants - her ass cheeks were completely exposed. As both a nudist & a lecherous heterosexual I was deeply impressed.
"PLW: I must have found out about it in Freshman Latin. Or, possibly, from Will and Ariel Durant. You don't know who they were probably. They were a married couple, who in fact were anarchist activists in New York in the '40s. The way they made their living was they wrote a series of books about the history of civilization." - p 45
The Story of Civilization, the 1st volume is credited to Will Durant alone. There're 11 volumes. I have 3 of them. This is the 1st I've heard tell about them being anarchists! Their bks were so omnipresent that I always vaguely imagined that they were history-belongs-to-the-victor kind of stuff. SHEESH. Now I'm going to have to read at least one of them! How will I ever live long enuf?!
On the subject of affordable pleasures:
"You can always afford sex. Think of the image of the hillbillies sitting in their cabins, what have they got to do in their spare time. Used to have rather baroque sexuality you know.
"There are certain places like Baltimore, which is a working-class city to a large extent, which is famous for their sexual "perversion." You've seen the films of John Waters, I always used to say that's Baltimore social realism." - p 47
Ha ha! I think it was in an anarchist discussion group called "Class Class" that we had some readings of a study done by a North American academic in South America about population growth or some such. It was as if the person or people conducting the study were afraid to even mention sex. It was all about economics. What struck me was that nowhere was it mentioned that people FUCK b/c it's so damned enjoyable & it's generally free (except under the worst capitalist conditions). In other words, it's exactly what PLW is commenting on.
As for John Waters's films being "Baltimore social realism"? This is exactly the kind of idea that PLW is full off & that I love about him so much. I didn't even realize or remember that PLW was from BalTimOre until I read this bk. "Wilson" was my mom's maiden name so that makes me wonder what relation, if any, PLW was to me. I wish I'd asked him about his family while he was alive. I tried asking him after he was dead but just got dead silence.
"You're not going to have a social revolution in the world on fire.
"CS: Well, you have it from the ashes.
"PLW: This is what's probably happening in Rojava as we speak. What will turn out to be the last idealistic attempt at a social revolution is being destroyed by the Turks, by Covid, by environmental degradation, by drought, and essentially by the world on fire. I hope not, but I've been following it fairly closely, and it looks to me like a real possibility. They will turn out to have lasted only about as long as the Spanish anarchist utopia. If the Zapatistas are still going I don't even know what they're up to. You don't hear about them anymore. Some people say they're still trucking, but they certainly gave up their international ambitions. You don't hear about them trying to convince other people anymore. So that's that." - p 59
"The Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES), also known as Rojava, is a de facto autonomous region in northeastern Syria. It consists of self-governing sub-regions in the areas of Afrin, Jazira, Euphrates, Raqqa, Tabqa, Manbij, and Deir Ez-Zor. The region gained its de facto autonomy in 2012 in the context of the ongoing Rojava conflict and the wider Syrian Civil War, in which its official military force, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), has taken part.
"While entertaining some foreign relations, the region is not officially recognized as autonomous by the government of Syria or any state except for the Catalan Parliament. The AANES has widespread support for its universal democratic, sustainable, autonomous pluralist, equal, and feminist policies in dialogues with other parties and organizations. Northeastern Syria is polyethnic and home to sizeable ethnic Kurdish, Arab, and Assyrian populations, with smaller communities of ethnic Turkmen, Armenians, Circassians, and Yazidis.
"The supporters of the region's administration state that it is an officially secular polity with direct democratic ambitions based on an anarchistic, feminist, and libertarian socialist ideology promoting decentralization, gender equality, environmental sustainability, social ecology, and pluralistic tolerance for religious, cultural, and political diversity, and that these values are mirrored in its constitution, society, and politics, stating it to be a model for a federalized Syria as a whole, rather than outright independence. The region's administration has also been accused by some partisan and non-partisan sources of authoritarianism, support of the Syrian government, Kurdification, and displacement. However, despite this the AANES has been the most democratic system in Syria, with direct open elections, universal equality, respecting human rights within the region, as well as defense of minority and religious rights within Syria.
"The region has implemented a new social justice approach which emphasizes rehabilitation, empowerment, and social care over retribution. The death penalty was abolished. Prisons house mostly people charged with terrorist activity related to ISIL and other extremist groups, and are a large strain on the region's economy. The autonomous region is ruled by a coalition which bases its policy ambitions to a large extent on democratic libertarian socialist ideology of democratic confederalism and have been described as pursuing a model of economy that blends co-operative and market enterprise, through a system of local councils in minority, cultural, and religious representation. The AANES has by far the highest average salaries and standard of living throughout Syria, with salaries being twice as large as in regime-controlled Syria; following the collapse of the Syrian pound the AANES doubled salaries to maintain inflation, and allow for good wages. Independent organizations providing healthcare in the region include the Kurdish Red Crescent, the Syrian American Medical Society, the Free Burma Rangers, and Doctors Without Borders."
I'm tempted to move there.
"PLW: For years and years his admirers would say why doesn't someone make a movie, and it's well known there were famous directors who had taken options on some of his books, and it didn't happen until I'm pretty sure the first one was Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, which got made into a movie by the title of Blade Runner. I think that was the first P.K. Dick movie." - p 75
I thought I had a printed-out list of all movies based on works by P.K. Dick, a list that included many movies made before Blade Runner. However, I cdn't find that list in the 2 places where it shd've been. SO I looked for such a list on Wikipedia & what I found only listed ONE movie made before Blade Runner: "Imposter", made as an episode of a TV show in 1962.
"The first piece that Bob" [Wilson] " put on took place in a ruined caravanserai in Shiraz that had many rooms, and in each room something was going on, and it was all going on simultaneously, and it was in his style, which I don't know if you're familiar with. It was all very beautiful, painterly, and terribly slow. He started life as a painter and then he realized that his work had to be in motion, but it couldn't be in fast motion it had to be in slow motion so that everybody could see everything. That was the key to his work. This was one of his early pieces too. He had put on stuff in New York for sure before I knew him, but this was one of his early works, and the next time he came to Shiraz he put on Seven Nights on Ka Mountain where they gave him an entire mountain with several buildings and he put on a play that lasted non-stop for seven days and seven nights. I was there for all of it." - p 84
Coincidentally, I recently read Carolyn Brown's Chance and Circumstance (you can read my complete review here: http://idioideo.pleintekst.nl/CriticB... ) in wch I read about the Merce Cunningham Dance Company performing at the same Iranian festival.
For the complete review go here: http://idioideo.pleintekst.nl/CriticW... ...more
Notes are private!
Feb 15, 2023
Mar 03, 2023
Nov 01, 2022
really liked it
Alan Lord's High Friends in Low Places
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - February 21-28, 2023
For the complete version of my review go here: h review of
Alan Lord's High Friends in Low Places
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - February 21-28, 2023
For the complete version of my review go here: http://idioideo.pleintekst.nl/CriticL...
"Instead of "No Future", to me Punk meant No Bullshit—a punk speaks his mind bluntly, gets to the heart of a matter, and tells you what's what. Which is the exact opposite of polite social conventions and "being diplomatic"—which is shorthand for bourgeois hypocrisy." - p 16
That seems ok in theory but in actuality it can just mean that any idiot can blurt out any stupid thing in a spirit of total self-righteousness. Just b/c someone says something bluntly doesn't mean that they get anywhere near the "heart of the matter" - wch brings me to writing reviews in general & to writing this review in particular:
I've known Alan for 40 yrs. I consider him to be a friend, I'm certainly glad we know each other & that we still communicate. I'm very glad to have read this autobiography - but that doesn't mean that I agree w/ him about everything. SO, I'll be blunt:
For me, the people who were & are really serious about rebelling against mainstream society take a stance that there's no turning back from. I remember being in Chicago in 1986 for the Haymarket Centennial, an anarchist gathering, the 1st for a very long time & the 1st in a series of such gatherings to come. I met a woman there who had a mohawk. She told me she'd gotten it for that weekend in Chicago, she was a weekend warrior, she was just going to comb her hair down again to look normal when she went back to her NYC office job on Monday. I was disgusted, I didn't like her at all. She was very loud in her belligerent mouthing off but it was just her act, something to make her feel like a hero. She was a poseur.
I had long since been leading a life that pretty seriously showed me as rejecting normality 24/7. A yr later I got my 3D brain tattoo on my head. I kept my head shaved for yrs to make it so people SAW THE TATTOO. Once I got that done I knew I'd have a helluva time getting work to support myself w/, I wasn't rich, I was pppooooorrrrrrrrrr & I needed to survive somehow. That meant that if I got a job the employer had to accept me as is, I was a flagrant weirdo & that was that. Even tho Alan was a 'punk', he was a punk who cd get a straight job any time he needed to. Look at the cover of his bk, he looks pretty damn normal.
I wanted to get that out of the way 1st. So much for bluntness. Did I cut thru the bullshit? Maybe. But I also took the risk of alienating Alan, of destroying our friendship. Maybe diplomacy doesn't have to be "bourgeois hypocrisy", maybe it can mean being sensitive to the other person. In this case, I can recognize that Alan has led an extraordinary life, it doesn't have to be an exemplar of what I was going for - & this bk expresses it very clearly.
I've been lucky to receive a USB stick w/ "ALAN COMPLETE ARCHIVES" on it that includes things like recordings from his bands. That's a good companion volume to this bk. Alan also sent me this:
"HIGH FRIENDS IN LOW PLACES — CLICKABLE WEB LINKS
The following web links are the ones referenced in the book's footnotes; you can click on them to access them immediately. They are listed by chapter. The Appendix B web links are also included."
This is a very conveniently organized list of the links scattered throughout the bk. I'll list the relevant ones here at the end of every chapter that I comment on & quote from. If you're interested in underground musical & literary culture in Montréal (& beyond) in the 1980s (& beyond) this is an excellent resource.
The 1st chapter begins thusly:
"I smoked a joint with Burroughs at sunset and fucked Kathy Acker's brains out at dawn. At the time I was a hot shit sunglassed guitarist in the coolest band in town, single and miserable, lonely with six girlfriends and a few unspellable venereal diseases. And stoned whenever possible. We were well into the Eighties and I was still not using condoms. Splodging into gummy plastic wasn't in my DNA. Sure, it was high risk, but what's the point if things aren't exciting?
"Welcome to my Eighties. I had high friends in low places. Mostly at the Foufs—or Les Foufounes Électriques" - p 1
Alan provides the translation as "The Electric Buttocks". When I played there on tour in 1992 I was told it meant "The Electric Vagina". An online translator has it as "The Electric Vulva". Maybe it's "The Electric Cloaca".
"Or how about the time in New York, when Pop artist James Rosenquist poured me a glass of champagne. Chris Burden explained to me how to drop steel beams from a helicopter clean through concrete pads, Grace Jones had a fit during her birthday party, and Divine walked in on my brunch? I also once had a hilariously futile phone conversation with Nam June Paik, and J.G. Ballard wrote to me on the back of photos of his cat.
"This is not boasting, it's not name dropping, it's the icing on the cake of the crazy life I had throughout the Eighties—which were my Sixties, except I remember 'em better because blow and champagne don't fog up your brain like weed and acid." - p 4
I'm inclined to think that it is, indeed, name dropping b/c otherwise why wd it be worth mentioning that someone walked in on yr brunch or wrote something to you on the back of a picture of their cat? Nonetheless, it's interesting for me since all the people named are of interest to me.
Alan mentions me, usually in a complimentary way, quite a few times in this. Given that I'm as ego-starved as the next guy (No, not him - the one lurking in that corner over there), I enjoyed that & I make sure to carry the bk w/ me at all times so that I can shove relevant pages in front of the faces of girls that I want to have sex w/ who are then horrified that this dirty old man is coming anywhere close to them. Still, ya gotta do what ya gotta doo. My 1st appearance, however, isn't one that many people are likely to pick up on:
"No, we weren't "high on life". We were high on killing normality before it killed us" - p 5
Kill Normality Before It Kills You being one of my main slogans & one that I wd've introduced to the Montréalers in 1983 at APT 6 (more about that later) - although sometimes I used the alternate version: Stop Normality Before It StopsYou. Somewhat astonishingly to me some people are actually threatened by the version in wch "kill" is used as if "normality" were a flesh & blood being being threatened instead of an abstraction. If I sd Kill Geometrics Before It Kills You wd people feel as threatened? Maybe if they were a geometer.
Chapter 1 — PLEASED TO MEET YOU
Page 3: MTL Punk movie trailer
Page 3: Montréal New Wave movie trailer
"The work was easy. I just had to hop around the construction site with my surverying instrument, and plant rows of sticks showing the height to which earth graders had to pile the subbase gravel. The doofusses driving the dump trucks had fun careening roughshod and regularly snapped whole rows of my precious work, so I had to start all over again. I figured that was my job security." - pp 7-8
People are like dust, you can clean as often as you like but the unwanted will always be there again the next time. Might as well get used to it.
"England's '77 Summer Of Hate turned into 1978, and at the end of spring I wrapped up that semester's studies. When Elvis Costello's This Year's Model came out I was utterly demolished. It felt like an insulting gauntlet flung at my feet: if such a dweeb could put out an album, well then so could I! I bought myself a guitar, slowly dusted off my chops, and out of nowhere I immediately began writing songs—something I'd never been able to do." - p 12
Elvis Costello so immediately struck me as mediocre that I never took him seriously. When someone like that has such a prominent media presence there's inevitably some money backing them. How that backing comes into being can be quite arbitrary. I think it might've been John Cougar Mellencamp that I read an interview w/ who stated that his career got a kickstart when a British guy just liked his accent & decided to invest heavily in him. Maybe it was somebody other than Mellencamp. Whoever it was didn't attribute their 'success' to any special talent they had - just to the lucky break of having some rich guy fancy him. How often has that sort of thing happened?
"Tracy and Scott got together and soon evolved into the superb five-piece Heaven 17, and gave a show at the McGill Ballroom. In addition to Scott and Tracy they now had Roman Martyn from the Young Adults on guitar, and new faces—Kim Duran, and the luscious Lysanne Thibodeau on keyboards." - p 17
& it must've been a combination of Thibodeau's lusciousness & her having used German underground pop stars in her film "Bad Blood for the Vampire" that led to that film being included in "La Première Rétrospective Filmique Mondiale du Néoisme" in Québec in January, 1999, as well as in a smaller Neoist film fest in Windsor, ONT, in November of the same yr - b/c her film certainly had no connection whatsoever to Neoism & was just being used by the curator in an attempt to associate himself w/ Blixa Bargeld of the band Einstürzende Neubauten. Anyway, if you want to watch a 6 minute close-up of her mouth you can do so here: https://youtu.be/fhYqGKCBTlA .
Chapter 3 — MONTREAL PUNK
Page 17: Vertigo — by The Screamers
Page 21: Love On A Leash — by Arson
In the next chapter, Alan quotes a member of a Montréal band called "222" in its early days:
""The following day, a car couldn't be found to return the goddamn Cerwin Vegas" [speaker cabinets] "to the rental store. Since no one in the band had a solution and the rental was in his name, poor Johnny had no choice but to bring back the huge cabinets by himself. He pushed one of the wheeled cabinets from our rehearsal space downtown on Beaver Hall, all the way uphill to Marrazza—a distance of over 7 kilometers. Then he had to go back for the other unwieldy cabinet and do it all over again."" - p 21
My kindof guy! I really respect that he was honest enuf & responsible enuf to do that. Very few people wd. I'm reminded of a time when I was in Baltimore & I saw a woman pushing a guy w/ amputated lower legs in a wheelchair. They were both obviously dirt poor & the guy was trying to get to a hospital for some emergency he was in the midst of. The woman wasn't a relative or a friend she was just someone who took pity on him. When she saw me she recognized a kindred spirit so she asked me to take over & I pushed the guy the last mile or 2. What misery.
"My first gig was set for May 11th and 12th"  ", under the name of Alan Lord & The Marauders." - p 23
& on the USB drive holding Alan's life in a nutshell there're 4 recordings of Marauder songs: "I Guess I Like Her", "Feelin Fine", "Go On", & "Just One More Chance". Listening to them, if I didn't 'know' they're 1979 Montréal punk I might think they're 1966 Brit rock. Anyway, they're standard rock instrumentation: rhythm guitar, lead guitar, bass, drums, vocal. The playing is simple & primitive & competent for what it is. The rhythm guitar has amp reverb on it. I can imagine young people drinking, dancing, & flirting to it. What more do you need?
"For the Nelson gig I pasted up my own posters that asked the burning question: "Who is Alan Lord?" Indeed, who the hell was he? I sure wanted to know, I was still looking for him." - p 23
The Marauders were far from original but, what the hell, I'm sure the audience didn't give a shit as long as they got laid at the end of the night & I'm sure they had fun.
Chapter 4 — MONTREAL NEW WAVE
Page 25: Public Image — by PIL (Public Image Limited)
Alan writes about meeting Bernard Gagnon, a synthesizer player, & starting to collaborate w/ him.
"After a few jams we saw things gelled between us. I sang and played rhythm guitar, Gagnon played Minimoog on half the songs, then switched to lead guitar for the rest. We recruited Phil Nolan on bass, Angel "Dust" Calvo on drums, and I christened the band Alan Lord & The Blue Genes." - p 27
How about Alan Lord & The Alan Lords? or Alan Lord & The Self-Promoters? Those wd've been funnier band names. There's one song from what they turned into on Alan's USB stick called "DNA". There were hundreds of pop bands in the 1970s w/ synth players but it was still alot fresher than the typical rock instrumentation listed above. Still, synths were expensive. I built a function generator from a (maybe $60) kit in 1976 but it was stolen from me in 1982. That was more my kind of electronic instrument in that era. That & the toy Muson sequencer/synthesizer that cost about $25 & that I wish I still had! One was priced at $714.37 (+ $60.78 shipping) on Reverb 6 yrs ago! What. A. Rip. Off.
One thing that I particularly love about this bk is that Alan is truly thankful, truly appreciative of his fellow insider outsiders.
"Without the Nelson Grill the nascent scene could have been strangled at birth. So a big Thank You John to Spike. Without him I would have been nothing, I would have remained a frustrated office slave with his pipe dreams quickly dashed." - p 26
In BalTimOre, the thx shd probably go to Roger & Leslee who ran the Marble Bar & the Galaxy Ballroom in the Congress Hotel. Both were havens for the weirdos. The Marble Bar was more of a punk rock club & Roger is reputed to've died in 1984 from a heart attack while dancing there, presumably under the influence of too much coke. The Galaxy Ballroom was where the weirder stuff happened, that's where I did things, that's where part of the 3rd Church & Foundation of the SubGenius Convention happened, that's where part of the 7th International Neoist Apartment Festival happened. In other words: I feel ya, Alan - w/o people like Spike & Leslee & Roger so many of us wdn't've had a place to be as wild as we were. Lardy knows the Marble Bar tolerated my more human-time-bomb aspects.
"After the Nelson Grill show, Phil left us to form Ulterior Motive, and we no longer had a bass player. I changed our name to the simpler Vex, and in July we recorded our seminal song DNA" - p 31
Chapter 5 — FROM NEW WAVE TO POST-PUNK
Page 30: Nancy Beaudoin — by Aut'Chose
Page 32: DNA — by Vex
Chapter 6 — THE RETURN OF JOHNNY SHIVERS
Page 37: Did You No Wrong — by The Sex Pistols
Alan recounts meeting his soon-to-be close friend Mario Campo. As w/ his appreciation of the guy who ran the Nelson Grill, Alan's love for & appreciation of his friend is apparent.
"When it was his turn to go onstage, Mario Campo walked up to the mic, holding a sheet of paper. Instead of reading from it, he violently scrunched it into a ball against the mic—which gave loud crinkly sounds coming out of the speakers. He then tossed it at the audience and left in disgust—to howls, hoots and whistles of approval and disapproval." - p 40
Had I been there I suspect I wd've loved the elegance of this gesture of exasperation.
"Dave shot me up. I immediately felt woozy and started teetering. "Uh oh," he said, "maybe I gave you too much." Exactly what I didn't want to hear. I collapsed onto the couch and felt happy as a cooing Tribble. I was fine. The great feeling you get on heroin is like sinking into a warm bubble bath and enjoying it eyes closed, a happy mollusk in the suds. Right then I knew I should never get into smack, because that was the only thing I'd ever need in my life. Then I threw up a little retch. Every twenty minutes an unpleasant little retch. Well that nailed the fun out of Junkie Life for me." - p 45
Personally, I've been shot up w/ heroin & dilaudid, I drank paregoric & oral morphine, & smoked opium. I don't recommend any of them. I remember being on heroin while a gay friend read a passage from a bk about how sperm supposedly contains the active ingredient of heroin that supposedly makes you feel so good. I didn't feel good, I just didn't care, I didn't care about my friend or about much of anything else. I was taking heroin b/c I was being self-destructive b/c I'd broken up w/ a woman that I was obsessed w/.
The one time I drank oral morphine I was performing w/ my band "Something That Dissolves The Shadow of Something That Was Next to Something That Combusted Twice. Once." (1989.11.04) ( https://youtu.be/yamGE-mVW8A?t=1h26m51s ) in a concert that lasted 4 or 5 hrs. We'd pre-planned that we were going to play a section as hard & fast as we cd for an hr. Just before this section I drank the morphine. I'd been drinking hard alcohol all night. It occurred to me that I might've overdone it so I really plunged into the hard & fast section in an effort to work the morphine & alcohol thru my system in the hope of not ODing.
I cd go on & on about such foolishness but I never had the slightest urge or inclination to be a junkie. People often become addicts in the process of trying to escape from their lives & end up more trapped in them than ever. Fortunately, I don't seem to have an addictive biology. I've seen friends shoot heroin & end up under house arrest or worse w/in mnths b/c of their absolute lack of self-control.
"But Mario didn't have to travel far to find trouble. Usually he found it in the biker dives of Montréal or at Peter's, where he liked to go get beaten up. Or else in a drunken fit at home, smashing his toilet door, throwing beer bottles at the wall or down the corridor of his apartment building, bringing the cops at three in the morning." - p 52
I met Mario in early 1983 at APT 6 (more about that later) where I witnessed his performance at his apartment & where he translated my English into French for my "Practice for Blo-Dart Acupuncture &/or Ear Piercing". He seemed to be a good translator, taking it seriously & doing me the favor in good faith. While I can believe that he had his bad times, such as those described above, I'm glad to say that I met him when he seemed to be up. ...more
Notes are private!
Feb 10, 2023
Feb 28, 2023
Sep 26, 1990
it was ok
Amanda Cross's The Players Come Again
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - September 24, 2022
For my complete review, go here: http://idioideo.pl review of
Amanda Cross's The Players Come Again
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - September 24, 2022
For my complete review, go here: http://idioideo.pleintekst.nl/CriticC...
I often look for writers new to me to read. This search seems most prominent in crime fiction & science fiction but, really, it's across the board in every area. This is the 1st bk I've read by Cross. It's called "A Kate Fansler Mystery" & Cross is advertised on the back cover as the "queen of the American literary whodunit". I don't know what the rest of Cross's work is like but this seemed less like crime fiction, less like a "whodunit" & more like a novel w/ a feminist bone to pick. That, for me, was both its strongest AND its weakest point - strongest b/c that made the work somewhat unique for me as a mystery & weakest b/c the bone being picked was too propagandistic for me & that detracted from my narrative engagement. It begin sw/ a quote from Virginia Woolf:
""The sweetness of this content overflowing runs down the walls of my mind, and liberates understanding. Wander no more, I say; this is the end. The oblong has been set upon the square; the spiral is on top. We have been hauled over the shingle, down to the sea. The players come again."
The Waves" - p -ii
Quoting Woolf is a sort of warning to me of things to come on the propagandistic end of things. When I was in the bkstore business I was very aware of the many volumes of Woolf letters that were available. Woolf was obviously a highly respected writer. I read her Mrs. Dalloway, Orlando, & The Voyage Out. I expected to like Orlando the most but remember being disatisfied w/ it.. it seemed to lose narrative force. I enjoyed The Voyage Out the most. I still need to read more by her. At least one person has recommended The Waves to me as the most experimental of her novels.
Saying "warning" in the above paragraph is a bit too heavy-handed. Woolf, Cross, & 'James Tiptree Jr.' (Alice Sheldon) all committed suicide. I'm more or less always saddened by suicides & sympathetic to them enuf to wish they'd been happier. But another thing that they share in common is that they were all wealthy people who complained about the maltreatment of women, themselves included by implication. From my POV they were, instead, very privileged & enjoyed a lifestyle so spoiled that it's hard for me to feel any sympathy for them. I have far more profound sympathy for working class women in prison who got mandatory life sentences w/o parole than I do for someone who feels that they're not reaping the full benefits of what's, nonetheless, a very entitled class position. That sd, I think Sheldon is a great SF writer. I might feel that Cross is a great writer too after reading more by her.
"Kate bethought herself, laughing, of John le Carré, in whose books she delighted. Now, if one could only get John le Carré's British secret service to do the groundwork for a biography. In five days, they could discover all there was to know about a person's past, present, and likely future: they tapped telephones, undertook interviews on phony excuses, learned all a person's haunts, habits, what and where they drank, ate, made love, hung out, and worked. Of course, the subject of the secret service's remarkable endeavors was alive and in a position to spy for England." - p 15
THAT took me by surprise: 1st: a liking for Le Carrés work, something referred to more than once in the novel; 2nd: an uncritical admiration for the surveillance state.
"Tapping telephones, in the end, might give you information, but it did not give you understanding. Kate smiled. Thanks be for the unpredictabilities of human nature. It was not that the likes of Hoover and the British secret service lacked for answers; what they lacked was the right questions.
"Which a biographer might ask? Which she, Kate Fansler, might ask? Kate had a totally indefensible belief in destiny" - pp 15-16
I'd say it's considerably more than a matter of the "right questions" but, instead, a matter of an inflexible sense of duty to oppressive ideological norms as opposed to a liberatory attitude - or "understanding", as Cross expresses it. Fansler, the detective-professor, has the job or writing a biography, not one of discovering the grounds for prosecution or persecution thru surveillance.
"All of Kate's "cases" had called upon, if not exactly needed, her literary skills honed in the world of academic criticism and scholarship. She attracted those cases which called for her particular talents, or which seemed to. That was why she was not, all other more obvious reasons apart, a private investigator rather than a professor of literature." - p 16
That intrigued me. It also helped prompt me to learn more about the author & the degree to wch Fansler is the author's avatar.
"Carolyn Gold Heilbrun (January 13, 1926 – October 9, 2003) was an American academic at Columbia University, the first woman to receive tenure in the English department, and a prolific feminist author of academic studies. In addition, beginning in the 1960s, she published numerous popular mystery novels with a woman protagonist, under the pen name of Amanda Cross." - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carolyn...
Cross / Heilbrun's having been "the first woman to receive tenure in the English department" both astonishes me & endears her to me. I don't know when she got her tenure but given that she didn't get her PHD until 1959 I'll speculate that she didn't get tenure until the 1960s. Whatever the case may be I find it truly shameful of academia to've not recognized any woman's teaching talent in the English department before this time. Of course, the discrimination against women participating in higher education wd be a major contributing factor in that. Maybe there were few contenders for such tenure prior to Cross / Heilbrun's time. Such a ridiculous degree of sexism & bigotry seems like an idiocy of the past but it happened in my lifetime. That's truly disgusting.
Fansler's challenge is to write a biography of the wife of a famous male modernist writer, someone felt to've been neglected & overshadowed by her husband's fame.
"I suspect that, as with many declared masterpieces, his novel was ardently read by scholars and skimmed or ignored by those intelligent ones, few enough in every country, who, uninstructed, read books constantly and eagerly. Unlike Virginia Woolf, but like James Joyce or Marcel Proust, he was more of an academic's than a reader's passion. Perhaps he was nearer to Proust than Joyce. Certianly he stood, as I now understand, together with these two and T. S. Eliot, at the center of modernism as it was conceived in academic departments and learned books and articles. Unlike Joyce or Proust, however, his central character was a woman." - p 29
Whew! As a widely read person I find the above to be completely insupportable & sexist - but also more than a bit twisted given the author's actual position as an academic & her protagonist's position as a scholar. Cross essentially criticizes scholars for ardently reading certain bks & separates them from the "intelligent ones" who she claims read other things. I'm NOT an academic, I'm a self-directed reader, & I've read somewhere between 4,000 & 5,000 bks. I've read, as noted above, 3 by Woolf - & just about everything by Joyce. I've had little interest in Proust &, having read a little by Eliot, close to no interest in T. S.. SO where do I fit in her grossly oversimplistic spectrum? I look for originality & complexity in bks & found them more in Joyce's Ulysses & Finnegans Wake than just about anywhere else. IMO, the reason why so few people read those 2 works of Joyce's is b/c they find them too difficult, most people don't seek out difficulty. I seriously doubt, tho, that Woolf is read that much either - both Woolf & Joyce seem more like examples of Modernist writers chosen by academics than they are people preferred by Cross' very hypothetical avid reader. That reader, it seems to me, is more likely to read Harlan Cobin or some-such.
"In the years between the time when Dorinda and I met and the time when Nellie came, books were the chief source of our fantasies and the major topic of conversation. I remember with particular clarity when we read Elizabeth Bowen's The Death of the Heart, and both dreamed that a filmmaker would decide to make a movie of that novel and cast one of us as Portia, the adolescent heroine." - p 34
I've never heard of Elizabeth Bowen but thanks to the mention of her in Cross's novel I've decided to buy one of her bks. I asked the great oracle for a recommendation & got The Heat of the Day so, tomorrow, I'll get that one (I'd do it now except that today's a "spend nothing" day for me, my 94th this yr). I like the literateness of this bk, it's different from every other mystery I've ever read.
"But the Capehart, which occupied a huge cabinet, had its own special mechanism. Mechanical hands emerged and turned the record. After the record had been played on both sides, the hands flung it to the other end of the cabinet where it landed on a felt-covered slide. Sometimes the Capehart became angry—at the music, at us, at being overworked?—and it would fling the records across the room." - p 40
I'm a sucker for descriptions of unusual recording playback devices. I like to imagine this one playing one of my records: Usic minus the Square Root of Negative One ( https://www.ebay.com/itm/323431803478 ), side 1, perhaps, or Mechanically Repetitive Rerecorded Records RECORD ( https://www.etsy.com/listing/23589117... ), side 2. I like imagining that instead of getting angry the Capehart wd fall in love w/ the record(s) & caress them in ways it's never been seen to do before. If anyone has a working Capehart that they'd like me to make a movie of let me know.
While this bk was copyrighted in 1990, it's written about an earlier era in the same century, an era of much more limited conventional options for women.
"Eleanor and her sister-in-law Hilda, who married Emile Foxx, came from wildly disparate backgrounds and classes, but they were alike in being denied a chance even to go to college, much less to prepare for a career not emphatically female. So Eleanor had the choice of training to be a nurse, a schoolteacher, or a secretary, and chose the latter because she had had enough of nursing and children as the oldest in her large family. And Hilda, rich, spoiled, indulged as the recipient of all the luxuries the well-off could afford, had only her beauty and sense of adventure, inevitably sexual, to suggest a way of life." - pp 48-49
"But Gabrielle, Emmanuel's wife, intervened. She took over her grandchild, an act of which Emmanuel heartily approved, and so Nellie lived with them for the most part, as did her father in the late thirties once he had tired of Hilda and his role as husband to a still wildly flirtatious woman. (Peggy Guggenheim was reputed to have insisted that her lovers try all the positions pictured on the walls of some building in Pompeii where women were not allowed to enter but into which Peggy Guggenheim had bribed her way. Whether this is true or not, it was Hilda's boast also." - p 53
"Upon Emmanuel Fox's death, not long after Nellie's departure for the United States, Gabrielle dropped into obscurity. Literary admirers and adorers put up with their wives if they must as part of the price of the noble man's presence. But without the great author, a wife, unless she is literary executor and a tight guarder of the reputation and literary leavings, like the widow of T. S. Eliot, is as unregarded as his merest belongings, more likely, indeed, considered fit only as rummage." - p 54
& here we have one of the most important themes of the bk: a famous writer's wife received no regard except as his appendage - even if she was possibly very important to his writing. No doubt that's been all too true, all too many times - but wdn't it be more generally true to say that the not-famous spouse is.. not famous in contrast to the famous spouse? - regardless of sex? How many of you know who Agatha Christie's husband was? Or Amanda Cross's? Or Charlotte Bronte's? Or George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans)'s? Or Alice Sheldon (James Tiptree Jr)'s? Or Shirley Jackson's? Or Ayn Rand's? Surely many of them had supportive husbands. The point is obvious: if one person in a married couple is famous & the other isn't then the other is of little interest to the public in contrast to their famous spouse. &, yet, when I did an online search for "famous women who overshadowed their husbands" I only got results for women artists who were overshadowed by their husbands no matter how I phrased it.
Let's take the example of James Tiptree Jr. Some emphasis has been placed on Tiptree using a man's name, as George Eliot & George Sand did in the 19th century, in order to overcome bias against women writers - &, yet, Tiptree / Sheldon came from a wealthy family w/ an in to the publishing industry thru her mother who was a published safari writer. Tiptree's earliest publishing was w/ of her drawings as a child illustrating one of her mom's bks - how many people have opportunities like that?! There were other women SF writers contemporaneous w/ Tiptree that didn't need to pretend to be men in order to succeed: Ursula K. Le Guin, Joanna Russ, etc.
For the latter half of Sheldon's life her husband pd the bills while Sheldon devoted her time to writing. She eventually murdered her husband, reputedly as a mercy killing &/or as part of a suicide pact, & then killed herself. Now imagine that situation reversed: a woman works to support her husband's creative endeavors. The husband kills her & then kills himself. Wdn't he be considered by feminists to be an archetype of a male-as-monster? &, yet, I'm a feminist. I think Tiptree / Sheldon's a great writer & I don't consider her a monster.
"I well remember when, many years later, Queenie Leavis, the wife of that most terrifying and influential critic of his time, F. R. Leavis, admitted in an interview years after his death that she had done all the research for his famous books and written the greater part of them." - p 65
I've never heard of Queenie or F. R.. I do note that F. R. wasn't available to defend himself or give an alternative story. Strangely?, in my life, I've also noted that it's quite common for women to lie & for them to be malevolent. Funny how that never seems to enter into feminist mythstory such as the above. The woman is depicted as an unimpeachable source while the man's reputation is besmirched w/o any apparent conscience or qualification about the slander displayed.
"When I finally saw her, when Gabrielle opened the door and stood aside for me to enter, she claimed my attention with a sudden pungency no one, not even Nellie when she arrived in America, not even Dorinda, when I first saw her, had equaled." - p 67
The story that Kate Fansler is to unearth for her commissioned biography is slowly revealed thru the testimony of the people who'd met her subject while she was still alive.
"I had said the right thing. Later I would wonder if those words forced from her were indeed her words, or, like the words of masochistic women in pornographic novels, men's fantasies, really, women saying what men wanted them to say, pretending to feel what men wanted them to feel." - p 73
Ah, more mythstory - not even necessarily feminist. Men are depicted as forcing the narrative of male-female relations in a self-serving direction. From my own experience, masochists, male or female, aren't people I want to be around - the same goes for sadists. Fantasies of masochism in women in my life have originated w/ them. One woman told me I'd be a good "dungeon master", another told me I'd be a good "pimp". Others have wanted to be tied up, others have wanted me to play a role in their rape fantasies, one woman wanted to be strangled during sex. None of these fantasies were mine, none of them were things that I wanted any part of - so why depict such crap as originating w/ men? It seems to me that they originate w/ women AND men. Personally, I'd rather be lovers w/ a woman who's a talented musician, someone I can collaborate w/, someone who enjoys sex for the physical orgasmic pleasure of it - these people who only seem to enjoy sex if there's some sort of dominance dynamic to it are highly unappealing to me - that means that I don't want to dominate their narrative & I don't want them to dominate mine.
Anne has visited Gabrielle where Gabrielle gifts her all her writings - wch may or may not demonstrate the extent of her importance to the writings of her famous husband.
""Take the papers. All of them. I've written it out for the landlady, I wrote it before, I had only to put in your name last night. Don't leave without the papers." She pointed to a sack near her chair; I could see that she had begun packing the papers into it, probably last night. She had overdone it and collapsed." - p 75
The complaints about women's plight continue:
"Gabrielle died some years later. I have continued to pay the rent on the vault in the London bank. I was able to return to my old job in the publishing firm; I was too good to let go, and women could be paid so little then, and given so much responsibility and so little recognition, that the publishers would have been foolish not to take me back." - p 78
One might think, from reading passages like this, that women workers were all slaves & that men were all riding high - but the character's working for a publisher - how hard cd that really be?! In 1978 I was working as a hard-wood floor finisher, that was hard work, I started off at $2 an hr, less than the minimum wage of the time. It was not too uncommon for me to work 12 hr days, w/ a minimum of 3 additional unpd hrs travel time, w/ a 10 minute lunch break & no other breaks. It seems that the author likes to ignore, say, coal miners, an all male profession, in favor of focusing exclusively on the ways women have been exploited. To me, it's not men that's the problem, it's capitalism, it's humanity. If you want to take a hard cold look at exploitation, look at the horrifying González sisters in Mexico. ...more
Notes are private!
Jul 27, 2022
Sep 28, 2022
Olchar E. Lindsann's Two Cities - On Carcosa and Golgonooza
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - September 22-23, 2022
I took it for granted that review of
Olchar E. Lindsann's Two Cities - On Carcosa and Golgonooza
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - September 22-23, 2022
I took it for granted that the 2 cities referred to are mythical so I looked online for sources & explanations:
"Carcosa is a fictional city in Ambrose Bierce's short story "An Inhabitant of Carcosa" (1886). The ancient and mysterious city is barely described and is viewed only in hindsight (after its destruction) by a character who once lived there.
"American writer Robert W. Chambers borrowed the name "Carcosa" for his stories, inspiring generations of authors to similarly use Carcosa in their own works."
"Later writers, including H. P. Lovecraft and his many admirers, became great fans of Chambers' work and incorporated the name of Carcosa into their own stories, set in the Cthulhu Mythos. The King in Yellow and Carcosa have inspired many modern authors, including Karl Edward Wagner ("The River of Night's Dreaming"), Joseph S. Pulver ("Carl Lee & Cassilda"), Lin Carter, James Blish, Michael Cisco ("He Will Be There"), Ann K. Schwader, Robert M. Price, Galad Elflandsson, Simon Strantzas ("Beyond the Banks of the River Seine"), Charles Stross (in the Laundry Files series), Anders Fager and S. M. Stirling (in the Emberverse series)."
The list of writers who use Carcosa in their tales goes on & on on Wikipedia. As far as I can remember, I've never run across it before so that makes this interesting straightaway - a whole world of fantasy/horror writing that I'm not familiar w/. Of the above listed writers I've read a little Bierce, a little Lovecraft, somewhat more Lin Carter, somewhat more James Blish.. & that's about it.
"Golgonooza is a mythical city in the work of William Blake. Golgonooza is a City of Imagination built by Los, the spiritual Four-fold London, a vision of London and also linked to Jerusalem and is Blake's great city of art and science." - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golgonooza
The cover has a diagram on it. It cd be described as a central square w/ a circle w/in a circle it ITS center & w/ 4 rectangles consisting of 4 rectangles each that 'feed into' the central square. The very central text in the inner circle reads: "GATE OF LUBAN LOS'S FORGE" (if I'm reading the handwriting correctly). The collections of 4 rectangles are each labeled at the top, left to right: W, S, E, N - in other words the compass points arranged slightly differently from what I'm accustomed to: N, S, E, W or, clockwise: N, E, S, W or even: N, E, W, S to spell "news". A sample on the text below has these compass points in the boxes to the left of the center: "A Cherub of Iron, A Cherub of Stone, A Cherub of Clay, A Cherub of Metals". It all seems like an alchemical diagram to me, a plan in metaphor & symbolism & myth. Perhaps it's Blake's Golgonooza, I can imagine it as a spiritual Four-fold London.
The 1st chapter begins:
"Urthona dreams Carcosa: city of shadows, where flesh is a form of focus, where the Unbodied need not await creation. Here the movement of absent thought evokes the very strings that tremble at its vibrations, sinews forth those who are not subjects bound to form, becoming that shall not become. A boundless city fashioned with an unthinkable architecture, Carcosa is not, a polis of aporiac interiority: it has no outside, city without the Other, city of the other, profane sanctuary of the Yellow Sign." - p 3
I'm reminded of the other recent chapbk by Lindsann that I reviewed: Carmen pro Pleroma (see my review here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... ):
"But if it is infinite, it is nowhere. For if it is anywhere, that in which it is different from it, and thus the existent, being encompassed by something, will no longer be infinite; for that which encompasses is larger than that which is encompassed, whence nothing is larger than the infinite; so that the infinite is not anywhere." chapter VI, 3rd page
In other words, there's a similar treatment of something not-to-be-oversimplified, something larger than mere categories, than mere boundaries.
"Los, Urizon, Ahania, Enitharmon—all burgeon forth orgasmically in confusions of images and flesh. And this upsurge, Blake sings, is also a falling away. Golgonooza and what is suspends between two voids." - p 5
The author uses a way of quoting that calls attn to the quote being a fragment, something incomplete. Many people choose an excerpt that's coherent in & of itself that then seems misleadingly complete. Not so, Lindsann.
"["][ . . . ]
e analyzed with increasing precision by the body, our past psychical life is there: it survives—as we shall try to prove—with all the detail of its events localized in time. Always inhibited by the practical and useful consciousness of the present moment, that is to say, by the sensori-motor equilibrium of a nervous system connecting perception with action, this memory merely awaits the occurrence of a rift betw"
"-Henri Bergson, Matter and Memory." - p 6
The 3 dot ellipsis in brackets indicates a missing section of text. I, personally, use a 2 dot ellipsis ([..]) instead of the more conventional 3 dot one b/c I think the 3 dots are intended to evoke the so-called Holy Trinity &, therefore, a Christinane notion of infinity in 'God'. I prefer 2 dots as a simple evocation of infinity as more-than-one. Note that the quote begins w/ "e", simply enuf interpreted as "he" but not necessarily representing that. The ending of "betw" is even more definitely recognized as "between" - both standing in for missing text & a reminder to the reader of incompleteness.
"From imminence to matter: thus Blake retraces the movement that links Golgonooza, city of origins, to the world of death and tears. Yet between the sinews of groaning Golgonooza, Carcosa silently withdraws, prior to every origin, and yet unestablished, negating priority itself. The roads through Golgonooza lead many ways." - p 8 ...more
Notes are private!
Aug 25, 2022
Sep 23, 2022
it was amazing
Members of the Detection Club's The Floating Admiral
(Dorothy L. Sayers, G. K. Chesterton, Canon Victor L. Whitechurch, G. D. H. and M. Cole review of
Members of the Detection Club's The Floating Admiral
(Dorothy L. Sayers, G. K. Chesterton, Canon Victor L. Whitechurch, G. D. H. and M. Cole, Henry Wade, Agatha Christie, John Rhode, Milward Kennedy, Ronald A. Knox, Freeman Wills Crofts, Edgar Jepson, Clemence Dane, Anthony Berkeley)
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - June 26, 2022
For the full review go here: http://idioideo.pleintekst.nl/CriticF...
The basic premise of the writing of this bk is brilliant, the ability to pull it off even more so. Dorothy L. Sayers undertakes to explain who these writers are:
"What is the Detection Club?
""It is a private association of writers of detective fiction in Great Britain, existing soley for the purpose of eating dinners together at suitable intervals and of talking illimitable shop. It owes no allegiance to any publisher, nor, though willing to turn an honest penny by offering the present venture to the public, is it primarily concerned with making money. It is not a committee of judges for recommending its own or other people's books, and indeed has no object but to amuse itself. Its membership is confined to those who have written genuine detective stories (not adventure tales or "thrillers") and election is secured by a vote of the club on recommendation by two or more members, and involves the undertaking of an oath." - p 2
The undertaking of a collective mystery novel by so many people is quite challenging if conventional narrative cohesiveness is to be achieved.
"Two rules only were imposed. Each writer must construct his instalment with a definite solution in view—that is, he must not introduce new complications merely "to make it more difficult." He must be ready, if called upon, to explain his own clues coherently and plausibly; and to make sure that he was playing fair in this respect, each writer was bound to deliver, together with the manuscript of his own chapter, his own proposed solution of the mystery. These solutions are printed at the end of the book for the benefit of the curious reader." - p 3
G. K. Chesterton, possibly the writer of the most interest to me in this group, doesn't contribute a chapter but instead establishes an historical & ethical ambience, that doesn't really play out elsewhere, w/ a prologue.
"Like every man of his type, he had a perfectly sincere hatred of individual oppression; which would not have saved him from taking part in impersonal or collective oppression, if the responsibility were spread to all his civilisation or his country or his class. He was the Captain of a battleship lying at that moment in the harbour of Hong Kong. He would have shelled Hong Kong to pieces and killed half the people in it, even if it had been that shameful war by which Great Britain forced opium upon China. But when he happened to see one individual Chinese girl being dragged across the road by a greasy, yellow ruffian, and flung head-foremost into the opium-den, something sprang up quite spontaneously within him; an "age" that is never really past; and certain romances that were not really burned by the Barber; something that does still deserve the glorious insult of being called quixotic. With two or three battering blows he sent the Chinaman spinning across the road, where he collapsed in a distant gutter." - p 7
Before we know it, the main character's a corpse who we never really get to know.
"He lay there on his back, his kness slightly hunched up, his arms at his sides, quite still. A man of about sixty, with iron-grey hair, moustache and close-cropped, pointed beard, dark eyes open with a fixed stare. He was clad in evening dress clothes and a brown overcoat, the latter open at the front and exposing a white shirt-front stained with blood." - p 15
That description's from Canon Victor L. Whitechurch. People w/ some education in the arts probably know about the Surrealist game, Exquisite Corpse. Someone wd start the game by making a drawing at the top or the bottom of the page. Next, they fold the paper so that only a few ambiguous lines are left exposed & the next player starts their drawing, continuing in some way the exposed lines. They fold the paper, leaving lines exposed, the next player continues the process until the whole page is covered w/ the collective drawing. The drawing's revealed & whatever marvels &/or morphs it may provide are mutually enjoyed & remarked upon. As long as the continuity is accepted as an unconsious one the process is easy. How interesting the result is may depend more on individual drawing skill than on the transitions from section to section. However, in the case of this mystery, a more difficult challenge is posed. It's not just a matter of continuing a fragment, a continuity & a satisfactory result must be produced. Whitechurch provides some clues. These clues must then factor in to the chapters that follow.
""Oh! Admiral Penistone, is he?" said Neddy Ware.
""That's the man, right enough. But, look here: are you sure this is the Vicarage boat?"
""Queer, eh? That seems to mean something happened this side of the river, for of course, there's no bridge till you get to Fernton—three miles lower down. Ah, and the parson's hat, eh? Let's see; what time did you first see the boat coming along?"
""A little after half-past four, I should say."" - p 16
Now comes the 1st instance of what might interest writers the most - or, at least, this writer: the transition from chapter to chapter, from writer to writer:
""I will, sir. This hat was found in your boat early this morning. Your boat was drifting with the tide up-stream. And in her was the dead body of your opposite neighbour, Admiral Penistone—murdered, Mr. Mount."" - p 21
Now, obviously, Whitechurch has created a sortof 'cliffhanger' here for the next writers, G. D. H. & M. Cole, to pick up from: the informing of the Vicar that it's his boat that the victim has been found in & his hat that was found w/ the corpse.
""MURDERED! Good God!" the Vicar said—and it was well known, the Inspector reflected, that the Vicar of Lingham had a ridiculously exaggerated respect for the Third Commandment. He had stepped back a pace at the shock of the news, and some of the colour was fading from his cheeks. "But—murdered. . . . How—what do you mean, Inspector?"" - p 22
The Vicar's testimony provided another possible clue:
""Yes. It wasn't dark. I watched them take the boat into the Admiral's boat-house, and then, a little later, I saw them come out of the boat-house, and go up to the house."
""I should have thought those trees at the back of the boat-house would have screened them from you," said the Inspector, who had made good use of his eyes. "Or do you mean they were crossing the lawn?"
"The Vicar looked at him with respect. "No, they were in the trees," he said. "But Miss Fitzgerald had on a white dress, and I saw it showing through them."
""But Admiral Penistone hadn't a white dress?"
""No. . . . I suppose," the Vicar reflected, "that now you mention it I couldn't say I saw the Admiral leave the boat-house—but seeing his niece I naturally concluded he was with her."" - p 24
Now, it was at this early stage that I figured out what happened. The niece had secreted a trained bear clad in a white dress in the boat-house. When she & the Admiral returned the bear was trained to kill him & to then return to the main house for the opium that the niece had made the bear dependent on. Since he cd also read, he chose an old favorite, The Murders in the Rue Morgue by my high-school buddy, E. A. Poe.
"He meant that, as he and his wife were going up to bed, a bit after ten, might have been quarter-past, they'd seen Miss Fitzgerald coming up the path from the boat-house. At least, they'd seen her dress; they couldn't see her properly in the dark. The Admiral wasn't with her then" - p 29
Then again, maybe my 1st conclusion was rash (or had a rash or something), maybe it was the dress that had commited the crime. I always thought there was something fishy about that dress, didn't you? I mean, what self-respcting fish rides in a boat instead of underneath it? You get my drift. At least I'm not clueless.
"He had succeeded in making out that John Martin Fitzgerald was the Admiral's brother-in-law, and that his will devised his property, whatever that might be, in equal proportions to his son Walter Everett Fitzgerald, "if he sould be found to be alive at the date of my death," and his daughter Elma Fitzgerald; and had noted that if the son turned out to be dead ("I suppose he must have disappeared or something. It's a funny way to put it anyhow.")" - p 35
Ah, ok, Walter was wearing a bear suit to throw off his sister or she might've recognized him otherwise. His prediliction for drag was to throw off the casual observer from noticing that he was actually his sister & that she was actually him. So, what happened next?, you might ask w/ bear-baited breath. The Coles hand it over to Henry Wade by having one of the suspects leave.
""Beg pardon, sir." Emery approached deferentially. "But Miss Fitzgerald's away."
""Away! The exclamation burst from both men simultaneously.
""Yes, sir. She's just had her bag packed, and driven off in her car, Merton says." He indicated the maidservant in the hall, "Not ten minutes ago, sir."
""Whew!" With an internal whistle the Inspector brooded on this new development." - p 36
"STILL frowning with annoyance at the escape of this important witness, Inspector Rudge turned to his companion.
""If you'll kindly step into the study, sir," he said, "there are some questions that I'd like to ask you."
""They'll have to wait," said Holland curtly, turning towards the front door. "I'm going to find Miss Fitzgerald."
""No, sir!" There was a ring of authority in the Inspector's voice" - p 37
I reckon having the chapter end that way was really easy for the next writer to follow from. After all, one takes it for granted that the inspector will be annoyed & will try to assert some authority. Imagine if the chapter had ended more like this:
'"Beg pardon, sir." Emery approached deferentially. "But Miss Fitzgerald's away."
'At that very moment a deer was shot outside the window, its head splattering on the glass without breaking it, & a talking turtle entered the room in a santa suit descending from the chimney.
'"What the FUCK?!", the turtle was heard to exclaim before it spontaneously combusted leaving the word "Dalek" written in the soot.
'The inspector paused to masturbate, thinking about the latest overturning of Roe vs Wade by the US Supreme Court & wondering what repercussions that might have in the UK. He, personally, had voted for using the cells of all aborted fetuses to clone them all into xistence so that they cd be raised in state-run training camps for Manchurian Candidates. That wd be better than the childhood he had.'
Holland is then interrogated during wch time he reveals himself to be as suspicious as a Big Pharma marketing employee.
""Quite, sir; but you haven't answered my question. In what part of the world do you yourself get the material for which you are trying to find a market?"
""Oh, wherever I think the going's good at the moment," replied Holland airily. "Burma, Kenya, S.A., India—I move about."
""It won't be very difficult for me to find out, sir," said Rudge quietly. "Better for you to tell me."
"The reply came slowly—almost unwillingly:
""China."" - pp 38-39
Yes, china.. that porcelain stuff that's usually highly decorated & prized by people w/ conservative tastes.. AND, often cleaned w/ white fabric!
"["]That white dress she wore was her favorite—it was chiffon with an overcoat of cream lace; she always wore a coloured flower—artificial—with it."
""Ah! I'd like to have a look at that dress sometime," said Rudge. I've heard it mentioned more than once."
""Well now, that's another funny thing," said Jennie, who was now fully at her ease—as Rudge had intended. "She's taken it with her!["]" - p 43
Nothing funny about that, I ALWAYS travel w/ a white chiffon dress, usually stuffed around my waist to make me look pregnant so I can get better service - what's important is whether it has a stain from silver cleaner on it - showing the use of a wrong substance for cleaning porcelain. But let's get technical.
"["]My theory, as you know sir, is that the body wasn't in the boat long enough to make the clothes wet. I think it was set adrift from here about 2.30 or 3 a.m. If the person who did it was a stranger to the place he might not think of the river being tidal—he'd expect the boat to float straight out to sea. But what happened was that it floated a few hundred yards, and then, as the tide slackened, drifted into the bank; at 3.45, when the tide turned, it drifted off again and so floated up on the flow till it reached the spot where Neddy Ware found it at half past four."" - p 50
So ends Chapter III. Chapter IV was written by arguably the most famous member of The Detection Club, Agatha Christie. Christie presents the opinions of a gossip.
"["]There's those who say that Sir Wilfrid was none too pleased when he heard his friend was coming down here to live. But there, people will say anything, won't they? I'm never one to say a word myself. Too much harm done by gossiping. Keep a still tongue in your head and you can't go far wrong. That's my motto. And one thing I will say is a wicked shame. To take the Vicar's boat to do their dirty work in. Trying to drag him into it, poor gentleman. As if he hadn't had trouble enough in his life."
""Had a bit of trouble, has he?"
""Well, it's been a long time ago now. Six and four the little boys were, and how she could do it! Depend upon it, a woman who leaves her husband and her children—well there's not much to be said for her—not when it's a good Christian husband like the Vicar["]" - p 57
What the gossip doesn't realize is that it was only after being married & having children that the Vicar's wife realized that he was a female-impersonator opium-addicted bear. Why she was so slow in picking up on this is anyone's guess. It was the claw marks on her back that eventually turned her sour.
John Rhode picks up w/ the gossip:
"INSPECTOR RUDGE assumed an expression of profound admiration. "My word, Mrs. Davis, it takes a woman like you to put two and two together like that!" he exclaimed. "Of course the Admiral could not have caught the train, now I come to think of it!"" - p 59
Of course not, silly! He's a fictional character!
""Queer thing that I don't seem to recognize Admiral Penistone," he said. "There was only one of that name in the Navy List when I was serving, and I saw him more than once."
""Did you? When was that?" Rudge asked eagerly.
""Why, on the China Station, twenty years ago and more.["]" - p 71
You can tell he's lying b/c he sd "China Station" instead of "china set". Everyone knows that "China Station" refers to the stations of the cross & is strictly a religious reference.
Then Rhode hands it off to Milward Kennedy.
""Is Sir Wilfrid Denny at home?" he asked.
""No, he ain't," replied the woman. " 'E was called to London hunexpectedly, and left by the first train this morning."" - p 73
"A TACTFUL question or two elicited the facts that the "call" had been a telephonic one, and that it was not Sir Wilfrid's habit to go often or regularly or, above all, early to London." - p 74
Of course, by now, just about everyone's a suspect - even me.. & YOU, you dastardly mustard plaster, you! ..& this missed clue clinches it:
"More likely the other maid, the one who had been so bored she had left after a week of Rundel Croft, could have told him the inner history of the Admiral's household: perhaps they were used to a gayer life. . . . anyhow, she must have been pretty thoroughly bored if she had chucked her wages in order to get away. He pulled himself up sharply" - p 77
"Rundel Croft" being, of course, a game played blindfolded & naked that's a cross between skydiving, parcheesi, croquet, & Olympic cookie dough splattering. Most people find it quite challenging, even jaded urban dwellers, so the maid obviously left for other reasons.
Kennedy ends w/:
""Can't say I should, sir. And I didn't notice the number of the car much, either—you see there was no occasion, then. I just happened to notice the car. It didn't stop above a couple of minutes and then drove on. Along the Whynmouth road."
""And that, of course," said Inspector Rudge, "would take it past the Vicarage."" - p 91
But not necessarily past the Underage. Dorothy L. Sayers has some "SHOCKS FOR THE INSPECTOR":
"THE INSPECTOR ruminated for a few moments upon the fascinating possibilities suggested by this piece of information, and then, dismissing Hempstead with the advice to get a good meal and turn in, he walked slowly back towards the house." - p 92
Before you know it, Sayers is passing the ball to Ronald A. Knox:
""After midnight? Did you see your uncle alive after midnight?"
""Why, of course," interrupted Holland. "I saw him myself. Yes, I know, Inspector! I didn't want to tell you about that because I was afraid you might stop us from going to town, But I'll come clean now. I saw the Admiral alive here in his study at a quarter past twelve last night."" - p 128
Knox's "THIRTY-NINE ARTICLES OF DOUBT" was one of my favorite chapters b/c it systematically summarized what'd happened so far.
"IN THE nature of the case, a policeman's life is bound up with surprises. A considerable part of the community is only too ready to set playful booby-traps for him, stretching wires across garden-paths or waiting in dark alleys with half a brick concealed in the foot of a stocking. Rudge had not risen to his inspectorship without some experiences of this kind, and he had come near to achieving that unwondering attitude which is (the old poet assures us) part of the stuff of happiness. But this sudden admission almost caught him off his guard." - p 129
& what about the Vicar's hat?
For the full review go here: http://idioideo.pleintekst.nl/CriticF... ...more
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really liked it
Mark Young, editor, Otoliths issue fifty-six, part two
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - January 31, 2021
I wrote in my review of part one of review of
Mark Young, editor, Otoliths issue fifty-six, part two
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - January 31, 2021
I wrote in my review of part one of this ( https://www.goodreads.com/story/show/... ): "It appears online 1st & then is available, somewhat expensively IMO, as POD hard-copy." Part One is Black & White, Part Two is color. I shd qualify my "somewhat expensively IMO" comment by noting that the printer, who I believe is Lulu, is a bit more expensive than other printers but has a reputation for quality. That quality might not be so obvious in the B&W part but in the color it's glorious. For people who revel in the eye candy of art bks this is definitely a treat - whether one likes the art or not hardly even matters! The lusciousness of the color is sensually overwhelming.
What complicates Otoliths, I think for the better, is that it isn't so much an "art" bk as it is a Visual Poetry / Asemic Writing (etc) bk. While that distinction might seem excessively esoteric to people just looking at the work in terms of broader categories, it's probably important for both the creators of the work & for people trying to come to terms w/ it. Or maybe I'm the only one who cares about such nuance.
Then again, my claim of textual underpinnings is refuted by the 5 paintings by Judith Skillman that start off the volume after the ToC. These are easily categorized as "art" so if you try to come to terms w/ them you shd be careful that you don't 'buy' the Brooklyn Bridge.
The piece that follows, Hao Wang's "Night, Moon and Dream: A Collage of Poems by Li Bai and Other Ancient Chinese Poets", helps make the transition between "art" & visually emphasized textuality. 1st there's a color image, easily enuf interpreted as representational: a sun (or moon), a sky (seemingly a night one), & some hills. This is followed by 2 lines of black txt in Chinese. Then the ideograms in red w/ their names next to them. Then an English translation in black. This pattern follows throughout. The poems are simple. Here's the 1st in translation:
"The moon shines on my bed brightly.
So that I mistook it for frost on the ground." - pp 10-11
I found these exciting (although I found the periods a bit mystifying).
Texas Fontanella's work appears in collaboration w/ 3 other people: John M. Bennett, C. Mehrl Benett, & Stuart Wheatley. What I'm about to say about this is something that just isn't done in poetry world. In Poetry World, one must scratch everyone else's back. Or else find one's self banned to the outskirts where the ill-mannered louts live & prance. Fontanella uses a technique of taking pre-existing texts & scratching out all but the chosen words. This technique fascinated me when I 1st saw it in Tom Philips's A Humament (1970). In fact, I found it stunning. I was a little less stunned when I saw the technique used in Crispin Hellion Glover's Oak Mot but the bk is so lovely & Glover's such an extraordinary person that I was still impressed. But Fontanella's use of the technique 50 yrs after Philips's use of it just seems done-to-death: How can anyone be satisfied w/ still using this technique w/o adding one jot of originality?! Beats me. Of course, what 'saves' Fontanella's work (somewhat) is the collaborator's part.
John M. Bennett's work is original, his 'spidery' handwriting is distinctly his own & serves to both present words & a unique visual. In his collaboration w/ Fontanella (pp 20-28) & his solo work (96-103) crumpled brownish paper towels are used to add to the texture. I find the effect extraordinary. Sometimes the paper towels seem like faces in profile to me. I think of d.a.levy & of Trash-Po.
Jim Leftwich provides some "dirty vispo" on pp 53-67. It's not quite trashy enuf for me to think of it as Trash-Po: Is "Dirty Vispo" a genre? Then Leftwich & John M. Bennett collaborate on pp 68-79. Bennett gets around, his "Lost & Found Times" is missed.
Then there's Kek-w's "HOT HOUSE C" (pp 29-30), another extraordinary work, one that succeeds for me as short fiction (w/o being Flash Fiction). Here's an excerpt:
"I tried to comfort her but the security-guard arrived and kicked open the door. He cried out in anquish at the sight of us sat there together. "Damn it, girl — I took good care of you and now you pay me back by running off with that amnesiac ex-husband of yours!" He shot her and blood blossomed unexpectedly on her forehead, like some terrible devil-cactus that only flowers once every century." - p 30
The color, the color.. it's just so overwhelming. Take Michael Rothenberg's artwork on pp 38-52. At 1st, I'm reminded of Paul Klee, then of Gary Panter. I'd ordinarily prefer work that doesn't overly remind me of anyone else's work but that's a hard call given that I've looked at & enjoyed so much, there's so much to compare to. Still, despite my impression of derivativeness, the quality of the color just pushes Rothenberg's art into a realm of pleasure where the rest doesn't matter that much.
There's enuf variety of media to keep an old jade like me satisfied. Daniel de Culla used colored pencils for his work on pp 80-82.
My own "Butt Poem"s 002-006 appear on pp 89-95. Butt Poetry, a term probably coined by me even tho it's so obvious that many people might've used the term before me, is inspired by "Butt Calls": a Butt Call is a phone call made unintentionally on someone's cell-phone, usually when the phone's in their back pants' pocket, by having pressue applied to the phone's screen, usually set to a shortcut. A Butt Call is easily identified as a call one receives where all one hears from the phone when one answers are muffled environmental sounds. A Butt Poem, at least as I originally conceived of it, is a text accidentally generated & sent accidentally in a similar way, thru a txt messaging app. "Butt Poem #001" appeared in an earlier issue of Otoliths. I lowered my curatorial standards for some of these poems b/c I was eager to add to the pantheon. All 8 of the Butt Poems made to date can be seen here: http://idioideo.pleintekst.nl/ButtPoe... .
Following these are the afore-mentioned John M. Bennett solo poems (pp 96-103). I find them so visually stimulating to look at that even tho I've been reading his poetry for decades I still find these particularly remarkable. It's as if he's poured every skill he's honed for so long into them, making a fantastically rich stew.
It's strange: in my sparse reviewer notes I tended to pass over the work that's more obviously VisPo & to call attn to work that's more straightforward art. Hence, the paintings of Marilyn R. Rosenberg (pp 121-125), who I think I've previously thought of as VisPo (although I don't really know her work at all), presents work that I just note w/ "aesthetics, art". The closest aspect of a few of the pieces that evoke textuality to me might be gestural strokes vaguely reminiscent of asemic calligraphy - not that there's any reason from Rosenberg's presumed POV for there to be any textual underpinnings at all - I'm just musing over my early statement "that it isn't so much an "art" bk as it is a Visual Poetry / Asemic Writing (etc) bk" & then I go on to somewhat disprove my assertion: there's plenty of art here.
Karen Greenbaum-maya presents an image & then some prose. The latter begins:
"Chicken and the Egg
"Daughter's tattoo froths Hokusai sea foam. Mother's new tattoo cradles a pearl, sealing off a flinty irritation. Daughter signs up for hot yoga class. Not for pregnant women. Mother posts selfies from Bikram, sweat soaking her skin-tone sports bra. My heart center is connecting with the universe. Daughter goes vegan, won't eat what had a mother. Mother inhales smoothies green with kale, bitter with celery. Daughter interns high on the navel of the world in Bolivia, seeking language her mother can't eavesdrop. Mother hikes Machu Pichu. Why don't we learn tennis, she says. Daughter gets a new tattoo, in skin-toned ink." - p 127
It seems like I've been seeing Karl Kempton's typewritten geometric VisPo since the 1980s. He's dedicated & very good at his craft. His "Word" (p 131) has 4 touching hexagons w/ interiors that present a variety of shapes & relations depending on how one perceptually flattens & deepens one's perception of the space evoked. Each hexagon is formed by repetitions of one of the 4 letters in the title. His "Untitled + presents the same geometrical pattern w/ the negative space creating the armature previously created by the letters. The negative is filled w/ what look to me like periods but their imperfect circularity is ambiguous.
Pat Nolan's "I Remember Tom Clark" (pp 155-161) is a memorium to a poet that may not interest many non-poets but it interests me. I'm reminded of when I last saw poet Anselm Hollo w/ Jane Dalrymple in their home in Boulder. Anselm died not long thereafter. Anselm was wholy immersed in poems & poets. It was such a pleasure to witness his pleasure in talking about such things. He talked about Tom Raworth. The sincere joy he got out of his respect for Raworth's personality & work were a reminder of what life can be like at its best: appreciation unadulterated by pettiness.
Olivier Schopfer's photographs of "Windows" (pp 162-177): such a simple idea.. but what a special selection!! Schopfer lives in Geneva, Switzerland, & if all these windows are located there I'm impressed with the city - but I suspect the photographer has visited multiple areas to get such amazing shots - perhaps San Francisco & New Orleans?
Kristian Patruno presents a variety, some of wch are repurposed signs. The 1st one, entitled "Hate Speech", takes a Jesus Saves sign that excoriates "Drunks", "Homosexuals", etc, & leaves an encircled vertical "HATE" to bring out the subtext. (pp 238-243)
Michael Brandonisio (pp 318-321) presents several pieces - one of wch has the words "SAINT GERMAIN" on it w/ a caption underneath: "The Quest for Immortality" (p 320). This resonated for me personally b/c of my movie entitled "Ledger of St. Dermain" ( https://youtu.be/vkSSfTcXV2s ).
The above cursory review is entirely too short, this publication is very rich. If you just like LOOKING AT THINGS PEOPLE MAKE you'll probably be delighted w/ this one. ...more
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Jan 22, 2021
Feb 01, 2021
Mark Young, editor OTOLITHS issue fifty-six, part one
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - December 28, 2020
For the full review go here: https:/ review of
Mark Young, editor OTOLITHS issue fifty-six, part one
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - December 28, 2020
For the full review go here: https://www.goodreads.com/story/show/...
I don't really follow literary/poetry journals, online or hard-copy, so I have no idea how many there are these days, how many exist only online, how many exist only in hard-copy, how many in both forms. This is an example of the latter. It appears online 1st & then is available, somewhat expensively IMO, as POD hard-copy. B/c of this lack of knowledge on my part, I don't know how OTOLITHS compares to other such publications: is it more conservative? more adventurous? I tend to think more eclectic insofar as the types of work presented range from discursive to visual poetic. There doesn't seem to be much Flarf or Conceptual Poetry or Concrete Poetry but I'm sure the editor, Mark Young, wd be open to them. The cover, by Young, is static in printed form but is a simple animation in its online form.
At any rate, I'm a contributor & I like it enough to choose to be so b/c it does present variety & I like much of the work by fellow contributors, I'm very glad OTOLITHS exists & that it's made it to issue 56. That, in itself, strikes me as extraordinary, staying power in small periodicals is somewhat rare. The issues that I have are printed out in 2 volumes: a black & white volume that's cheaper for purchasers & then a color volume that's particularly stimulating to look at but definitely not cheap. I contributed to the color volume of this but bought copies of both so that my aRCHIVE wd be more complete. I draw the line at the expense of buying all issues.
Thinking about OTOLITHS stimulates me to revisit other such publications that I've contributed to. W/ this in mind I list them here w/ the yr(s) I published w/ them. Perhaps some other old hands will enjoy being reminded of the titles.
Hard Crabs (1979, 1980)
End Paper (1982)
A HUNDRED POSTERS (1983?)
Lost and Found Times (1985)
Shattered Wig Review (1988)
Painted Bride Quarterly (1992)
Encylopaedia Destructica - Bumba (2007)
Rampike (2010, 2012, 2014)
The OPEN SPACE magazine (2011, 2014)
Tip of the Knife (2012)
All in all, OTOLITHS compares quite nicely to the company it keeps here. Publications like RAWZ, End Paper, Phosphorusflourish, (S)CRAP, & Encylopaedia Destructica - Bumba had artist's bks touches that I particularly enjoy. DOC(K)S, ottotole, & The OPEN SPACE magazine came out in more of a bk form, as does OTOLITHS. I'm obsessed w/ bks so that's good too.
The black & white volume, the volume reviewed here, tends to have more typewritten poetry since the visual poetry is usually in color — but it's not completely w/o the VP. In fact, visually it's close to stunning.
I read thru the whole thing as I always do w/ everything I read & everything I, therefore, review. The only exception is when something's in a language other than English. The pieces I choose to quote from aren't presented as 'the best', they're just things that caught my attn for one reason or another. E.G.: Grace Coughlin's "The Problem is They Grow Up" has a reviewer note connected to it saying "stupid behavior".
"When he was twelve, he'd catch fireflies in a jar, tinfoil on top, and every time it would surprise him when they didn't glow for him the way they did in the open air. He'd Shake the jar. He'd Smack the glass. He'd Rattle the metal lid. His mom would say 'That's enough now, set them free,' but for him it wasn't enough. Before the bulbs blew out—suffocated, I would guess, from a lack of air and sky—they'd flicker just a little one last time. And, for him, that was enough. He hasn't been twelve for thirteen years." - p 12
This is one of many bks I've been reading concurrently over a long time. This yr, 2020, has been a difficult one for me & I haven't been enjoying things as much as I might have previously. As such, this was probably read over a period of 8 or more mnths. My reviewer note for this next poem excerpt suggests comparing E. E. Cummings. That wd've been connected to my having reviewed the Richard Kostelanetz edited E. E. Cummings' AnOther E. E. Cummings way back in March 10-17, 2020 ("E.E.: Cum": https://www.goodreads.com/story/show/... ) so I probably read this poem shortly after writing that review.
"Len g thy sir RRow too OOlls
Regr owth t OO OO lls sto-sto ny
For a theo logy of s worth tor ts
Ggg oner wort HY lllo ttos" - Hugh Tribbey, p 14
& what about Kristian Radford returning to Japan?
"returning to the country of my birth
for the first time in over a decade
was meant to be triumphant
I got sick within 48 hours
and spent most of the week
trying to stay in my room" - p 20
& then there's Steve Dalachinsky & Jim Leftwich: I run across their names fairly often, I think we're 'friends' on some social media or another — but such friendships are too ill-established for me to really know them. That's a shame.
"where power begets power & the powerful
are full of powder where prowess is prevalent
& acht(o)ung(e)ing is the norm where the
powerful wear egrets to war there is valet
parking west of the pro shop & the black widow
spiders are full of corn their wings hung
on the storm like facts" - p 27
I love pronunication vagaries:
"ough ough ough ough ough ough
ough ough ough ough ough ough" - still Dalachinsky & Leftwich, p 37
Notice "trough love" instead of the more obvious follow-up to "rough love": tough love.
Then there's Leftwich on his own:
fiSh FiVe EntrOpic
GeNeTic giViNg gAs
MaSHed uP potatoes
TreMbLing, toRNado" - p 38
I spot no 'rhyme or reason', no NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming), no acrostics or mesostics, not even strictly tOGGLE cASE. Methinks he's playing — but maybe there's more going on here than meets my mind. It wdn't be the 1st time I've missed something.
All of this can be read online in more correctly laid-out & complete versions:
Why not carefully read it all there? There's some sort of community at work, at play, might as well get to know us, maybe you'll join us.
"The Hermanos Luchador dedicated their days to the ardent defence of their inviolable mistress, a chemical grade of pure-strength crack cocaine which, when first pursued, renewed a person's faith in his calling and, when finally tasted, verified for him the compulsion to serve with unquestioning loyalty. The twins harboured no sluggardly confusion as to the rationale upon which their nation's war was founded; by retaining a monopoly on the manufacture and dissemination of their capital's most lucrative export, they ensured that Sonora's civic industry — nay, Mexico's supremacy as a bastion for trade — would continue to thrive." - pp 43-44
"To solicit her favour and capitalize on her affection meant demonstrating that with cocaine as your advocate and confidante, you could amass power, inspire fear and suffering, broker lucrative transactions, convert your familiarity with the pathology of addiction into expertise. Cocaine would not abide being exploited; it was she alone who administered the exploitation of others." - p 44
Sometimes, poetry bks can be a little too precious for me.
Stone & Type, Cedar
The above bk is reviewed. No comment is made about the price & the mere 86 pp. I have a new bk coming out on Entity Press called But Not Limited Too (Smattering 1) that's full color, 152 pp, $15.00. Perhaps the printer of Stone & Type, Cedar does an exceptionally good job. Still, really?, 18 bucks? I wdn't buy it.
Then there's the work by people I've been observing for decades, in this case John M. Bennett (in collaboration w/ Stacey Allam), someone I consider a friend although we've never met.
Speak the shirt
blinded by the wicks
in a thought bubble
and the buttons falling
in your blurry glasses
fanning out the nosebuds
hear the passing air" - p 86
It doesn't make me cry the way Dickens's Bleak House does (& I wdn't want it to). It's more like Variations w/o a Theme, a Lens instead of a Theme.
Or what about Márton Koppány's
"my post-full-stop period
. ." - p 93
I thought that was funny, not LOL funny, but funny.
Then there's Jurgen O. Olbrich, another name I've seen around so much I feel like we're friends even tho I don't think we've ever corresponded & I'm sure we've never met. His 4 pp from 94-97 might be called concrete. The 1st page says:
where." w/ the 1st "Here" & the "here" of "where" in grey. Here here. The text is justified too. I like it, it's elegant.
Or what about Jim McCrary's fill-in-the-implied-blank piece entitled "Untitled"?:
"Covered by noun objects in st
She was he was the best at everything
And never forgot to endure them fr" - p 101
I think much poetry cd be called fill-in-the-implied-blank pieces but McCrary makes it more explicit. How much poetry invokes, evokes, refers to, implies, teases, etc?
Then there's Pat Nolan's "A HISTORY OF HAIKAI Three Dokugin Kasen in memory of Keith Kumasen Abbott" & my thinking: 'Was that the guy who taught at Naropa?" so I looked at the Keith Abbott Wikipedia entry for the Naropa guy & he's listed as still alive & still teaching at Naropa, so NO, it's the Keith Kumasen Abbott who I found things about on SPD: "Keith Kumasen Abbott teaches writing and art at Naropa University." who appears to be, uh, the same Keith Abbott after all & then I found this: "This is a note of appreciation for one of my mentors, Keith Kumasen Abbott, who passed away last week. I met Keith when I worked at Naropa University. He was a faculty member in the Jack Kerouac School of Writing and Poetics where he taught reading and writing." ( https://janineibbotson.com/blog/2019/... ) & that's from Sept 4, 2019, so I went back to the Wikipedia entry & I cdn't find it so did I read something else & think it was a Wikipedia entry? I must have. I did find this: "Keith Abbott teaches at Naropa University, US" on the European Beat Studies Network website ( https://ebsn.eu/about-ebsn/members/ke... ) so I reckon they must be serious about this Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics business.
& what about C. Mehrl Bennett? I particularly enjoyed her "Ask A Cow Poems":
Crumble when wet
They are fake
Ask A Cow
Floats on wood
Under the earth
Ask A Cow" - p 112
Mark DuCharme tells us:
"Don't go away
Develop laughing pneumonia" - p 126
You probably know that there's a type of pneumonia called "walking pneumonia", a pneumonia too mild to be debilitating. I was a research volunteer for a study of it once. As I'm sure you're also aware, all readers bring their own associations to what they read. That's my bring-to.
"—into and onto the low pressure passenger seat not cooled a degree by the departure of Driver "Horse"'s hitchhacker Flaxman and the arrival of Driver "Horse"'s hitchhacker Kevin and again the cab became non-empty space and the universe became once more happy. All passenger seats abhor prolonged emptiness. Ah, truckworld do diddly indeedy abhor all empty passenger seats. So, Kevin, having seamlessly poured into the mold of nothing seeded by Flaxman—began and began and took over actually, the careful listening into the cold dashboard radio provided, which was wakening again from its last periodic cross-country station n out of range release and station n+1 in range acquisition blip-staticky-storm cycle." - pp 127-128
I find that an interesting description of one passenger replacing another in a hack, don't you?
Volodymyr Bilyk contributed a piece called "Melody Poems". Inspired by them I made a movie of me performing them. Here're the YouTube notes for that:
""A reading of Volodymyr Bilyk's "Melody Poems" with abundant mistakes & liberties on an out-of-tune spinet": In 2020 I had 5 of my "Butt Poems" published in "Otoliths" issue, 56 ( https://the-otolith.blogspot.com/2019... ). That's available online but I like having a hardcopy of anything I'm published in so I bought a copy of both volumes of this issue. I'm in the process of reading it cover-to-cover with the intention of reviewing it. When I got to Volodymyr Bilyk's "Melody Poems" I thought it would be fun to play the pieces on the piano & to link to a movie of this as a part of the finished review. Since the "Melody Poems" basically just list note names without specifying octave or rhythm, etc, I decided that it would be fun to play them in ways that most people would find 'unmelodic'. This is the result. As you will no doubt notice, I also tweaked it a bit further. I made entirely too many mistakes & took some liberties so the result is probably a bit far off from Bilyk's imagining of the melodies but, hey!, I still went to the trouble of actually approaching the "Melody Poems" as a score." - https://youtu.be/QvG0YeUR7ls
Considering that that movie was uploaded May 11, 2020, that gives you an idea of how long it took for me to get thru this — & this is just the 1st volume!!
The same author provided something of even greater interest to me:
"from The Song of the Great Tits
v -/- | v -/- | v -/- | v -/-
too" - p 147
I found hiromi suzuki's work to be "closer to Cummings than to Concrete Poetry" although it has somewhat the appearance of the latter:
) our (
) face (" - p 162
& then I found Elmedin Kadric's Visual Poetry (not reproducible here) (wch I very much liked) closer to dominoes than, say the sweetener section in the supermarket.
Olchar Lindsann's "ORAcLe" begins w/ a truncated quote from Lautrémont. How can they go wrong?
"is mouth, stuffed with belladonna leaves, let it sli"
–Lautréamont, opening to Canto II of Maldoror
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~<~" - p 177
For the full review go here: https://www.goodreads.com/story/show/... ...more
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Dec 25, 2020
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Apr 10, 2017
it was amazing
Clark Coolidge's Selected Poems 1962-1985
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - November 17-25, 2020
For th review of
Clark Coolidge's Selected Poems 1962-1985
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - November 17-25, 2020
For the complete review go here: https://www.goodreads.com/story/show/...
I've reviewed more books by Clark Coolidge than by any other poet. Whether I've ever really 'done him justice' is hard to say but it's obvious that he's at least caught my attn. I've read & reviewed:
Ing (1968) ( https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... )
Space (1970) ( https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3... )
THE MAINTAINS (1974) ( https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... )
Polaroid (1975) ( https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... )
Quartz Hearts (1978) ( https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... )
Own Face (1978/1993) ( http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36... )
American Ones (1981) ( https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... )
A Geology (1988) ( https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... )
This Time We Are Both (2010) ( https://www.goodreads.com/story/show/... )
I don't remember when I 1st became aware of his work but I acquired the "10 + 2 : 12 American Text Sound Pieces" record in 1976 & that has Coolidge's reworking of the preface to John Cage & David Tudor's "Variations IV" on it so I would've at least become aware of him then if not before. Since Cage's work in general & that piece specifically were very important to me at the time Coolidge's repurposing of the semi-infamous borderline disclaimer-type intro to the work provided by the record company that published the recording of Cage & Tudor's performance was of special interest to me too. In retrospect I don't find Coolidge's piece to be that remarkable otherwise, it strikes me as just another cut-up.
I've long since known that Coolidge is a drummer as well as a poet so in honor of receiving this book for review (at my request, Thank You Station Hill Press) I decided to investigate that aspect of his work more. Hence, I bought a CD by "The Serpent Power", originally released on record by Vanguard in 1967. The back cover blurb says:
"A poet's songs and music — The Serpent Power — a form, expression of the poet David Meltzer. It is San Francisco poetry — out of the poetic renaissance — grown into another flowering as San Francisco music — the imagery, the moods of the poems flowing into the imagery of his songs and music—"
The band consists of:
David Meltzer: guitar, harmonica and vocals
Tina Meltzer: vocals
Denny Ellis: rhythm guitar
David Stenson: bass
John Payne: organ
Clark Coolidge: drums
I enjoyed listening to it, I was reminded a little of Country Joe and the Fish, a San Francisco band from around the same time. It seems that The Serpent Power didn't make it past this 1st release. That seems a shame, they had potential. It's probably a partial result of my cheap CD player but in my listening Coolidge's drumming it's subdued in the mix but I can hear it well enough to recognize that he's skilled, although, perhaps, a bit conventional.
The cover of Selected Poems 1962-1985 has a drawing of Coolidge playing drums on it by Susan Coolidge called "Clark at a Serpent Power rehearsal, sitting on a suitcase, wailing away". Given the era covered by this compilation there's quite a bit of overlap in Coolidge's poetry & his The Serpent Power era:
THE SO (1966-67)
TOOLS, MODELS, SPECIFICATIONS (1966-68)
SUITE V (1967)
Choosing to quote from SUITE V (1967) immediately poses a problem: perhaps the most immediately remarkable thing about the poem is that every page has one one syllable plural word centered at the top & one one syllable plural word centered at the bottom. In between: blank page. The 1st page has "taps" at the top & "buns" at the bottom. The problem comes w/ trying to reproduce that in this review. As far as I know, the formatting of the reviews prevents such use of space. AT any rate, it's a far cry from David Meltzer's poetry. A psychedelic band based around Coolidge's poetry of the time wd've interested me very much.
There's an introduction by Bill Berkson that I found informative.
"In the late 1960s, our friendship solidified over my acting as an intermediary in asking Philip Guston to make a cover drawing—it ended up being two drawings, front and back—for Clark's book Ing (1968), which was also how Clark and Guston first met, and soon began collaborating, and how the series of poem pictures Guston made with assorted younger poets' poems over the next ten years began, as well." - p xv
The drawings, which look to me like paintings done with a brush & acrylic are basically black vertical lines somewhat boxed in. This isn't 'hard-line', there's no attempt at sharp straight geometric edges, the lines are obviously hand-done, the brushed-on paint or ink is applied w/ uneven application, it's more like an arrangement of beans, of something organic, w/ each line having its subtle differences: a place where the paint doesn't cover here, a fatter stroke there. One cd say that it's minimal — in a similar spirit to Coolidge's bk, a bk that uses a suffix as its title, something that's usually just a part of a word rather than something that stands on its own. The poems inside are sparse too — but not as sparse as the title of the bk. No poems from Ing were selected for this compilation. The 1st 3 lines from its 1st poem are:
Make of it what you will.
"Having to start somewhere, with an idiosyncratic feeling for prosody prepared by his musical training, he began by imitating, along with Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, and Philip Whalen." - p xvi
Hhmm.. I missed that, maybe I've never read that earliest work or maybe I just didn't notice. Have I ever imitated anyone? Maybe.. It seems more accurate to say that I've been inspired by many people. Coolidge's work is peppered w/ references to other poets & musicians, I'm not sure what it's salted wit.
"Events in music between 1957 and '59 that we responded to, and took as artistic models in our separate ways, included John Cage's Indeterminacy, Ornette Coleman, Thelonious Monk's stints at the Five Spot and his Riverside recordings of that period, Cecil Taylor, Robert Craft's Complete Anton Webern and the New Directions in Music 2/Morton Feldman LP (liner notes by Frank O'Hara and cover drawing by Philip Guston)." - p xvii
I wd've been 3 to 6 during the time specified but when I got old enuf to learn about such things most of the above proved important to me as well. It must've been astounding & wonderful to be able to experience such things as they appeared.
"What we shared then, and talked about only later, was a need and readiness for a mode of writing other than what Coolidge has called "frozen literature," a feeling that words, and the sentences they came all-too-neatly wrapped in, required refreshing via intensive disruption and rearrangement. It seemed urgent for the language we had been taught and that was all around us to be short-circuited and aired out in order to give words more breathing space and physicality, away from their preauthorized, anticipated meanings, so they could exist and mean more in themselves' - p xviii
Naturally, any avant-garde creator, wch Coolidge may or may not consider himself as being, strives to break past the limits established by previous creators. I do the same. Simultaneously, I find previous writing exhilirating & just fine the way it is. Catullus, Villon, Dickinson.. they're fine. If Coolidge's ambition is as Berkson describes above I'd say that Coolidge succeeded at an amazing level.
"Evidently, it is all improvisation: the performative winging it, as unplanned as intense, a case of stamina and decisiveness, admitting of no bluff or cliché, but riding on sustained wonder about whatever's at hand. Coolidge's titles, small wonders in themselves, come last, as if by interpretive afterthought" - p xxi
Well, I can accept that as generally accurate but there's at least one exception, & probably more, that of "The Diamonds" (1966) in which the top line is one centered one syllable word, the 2nd is 2 centered one syllable words, the 3rd is 3, & so on until the middle wch is 13 centered one syllable words after wch the quantity of words per line decreases one word per line — hence forming the shape of a diamond. Even if the form of the 1st poem in this series came spontaneously, the following poems obviously didn't since they all follow the same form. Still, Coolidge's love of improvisation is at least a little obvious by his enthusiasm for jazz musicians — even though the many musicians mentioned in the poems aren't necessarily primarily known as exclusively improvisors.
The earliest poem in this collection (1962), is fairly obviously descriptive, so maybe it's one of the imitative ones mentioned by Berkson:
"MEDITATION IN THE WHITE MOUNTAINS
few crags, the slopes
the granite stopwatch" - p 1
But by page 2, in "Noon Shed" from Motor Growers 'Pedia (1963-65), Coolidge has already taken a leap forward (excuse the lack of correctly quoted indentation here):
"this day is grin machine shed
powder red rust over every
thing girl & tree
ocher snuff & ideas
I breathe past beauty
(on an armor slat sky
& the mine-disaster printed
on a dark tin wafer" - p 2
From Flag Flutter & U.S. Electric (1964-66) comes the 1st mention of a spelunker who's a recurring feature of many Coolidge poems in "The Death of Floyd Collins".
The section of excerpts from SPACE (1965-69) presents a whopping 19 poems, wch might seem potentially the whole bk, but it's only 19 out of a total of 84 in the original. SPACE was published by Harper & Row, a surprisingly large press considering SPACE's exceptional, & uncommercial, nature. Harper & Row are to be commended! Take this 1st stanza from "Machinations Calcite":
oblique swatch on the skin car barn oil wall
ocarina & mumps
much wet green
I'd leave sole key to this game to my friend, sheet water cat" - p 9
The last line reminds me of lines from my own Telepathy Receptivity Training (1975-?) in wch I transcribe(d) language in my mind while I'm half asleep:
"because I lived in the same house, 40 yrs, underwater"
"knack & carack, the carrying away by pens changalamp"
The Diamonds were refreshing for me, they were the only poems I'd seen of Coolidge's that were so obviously shaped. Not only are they diamond shaped, as previously described, but they consist of 3 letter words presented in alphabetical order from top-to-bottom, left-to-right. But there are exceptions. Whether these exceptions are mistakes or deliberate disruptions I don't know. My pointing them out is my way of showing that I pd attn.
The poem beginning w/ "ace" has these 2 lines:
"but bye cab cad cam can cap car cat caw cob cog
cod con coo cop cot cow coy cry cob cud cue cup cur" - p 30
Note that "cod" is out of alphabetical order. The poem beginning w/ "gee" has these 2 lines:
"ode off old one ohm ore
orb our out ova owe" - p 31
Notice that "ohm" & "orb" are both out of place. How the Poetry Police let this guy get away w/ this stuff is beyond me. Then there's the poem beginning w/ "pro":
"vow wry why who wad wag wan war" - p 33
What's that old mnemonic? Wry before who except after vow? Something like that. I'm beginning to suspect that Coolidge was under the influence of those dreaded 20th drugs when he wrote these: sugar, pot, alcohol.. who knows? Maybe even TV!! As if that's not bad enuf, starting on page 34 he just defenestrates it all starts using other forms of organization. Consider the left side of the poem beginning "for":
The guy's starting to get repetitious. By page 34 the guy's just going wild. The poem beginning "mat" has these 2 lines:
"urn ken mat bow lip urn
ken mat bow lip earn" - p 34
He actually makes a pun. Doesn't he know that it's bad enuf to introduce a 4 letter word? He inner bean counter was probably pacified rather than hospitalized by the next 2 poems. The poem beginning "non" has this as its left side:
The next vertical row in is this:
In the meantime, yrs truly went to a park & declared 2 Coolidge poems from this bk "nature poems" & made a short movie of the reading of them:
626. "Reading 2 nature poems by Clark Coolidge"
- shot July 15, 2020; edit finished July 18, 2020
- on my onesownthoughts YouTube channel here: https://youtu.be/DEnv8pb7yIA
- on the Internet Archive here: https://archive.org/details/reading-c...
You've really got to watch out for poets like this, they're tricky little buggers. You never know what wanton paths they might lead your unconscious down. Speaking of wch, here's the 1st stanza of "THE SO" from the bk of the same name:
"slender gel from cracking odes
"punch you," hot, "Hey! Out!"
lime cool green eel key, echo, smite
"it at last," sag gum in
hang, "watching the wrist is . . ."
batter sea lode, lodged against, "much!"
silk is, argonaut match head
"Selby's crazy!", terrible hot tornado
ink licked in small rod, "Summer is . . ."
relic tricycle hit
smile, toad, rills, "Objection, please!"
mended seams, ripen that
remainder amphibian, "Xylophone right next"
simple, oh, "you!"" - p 44
Language use like this keeps the reader guessing, the words bounce around like lottery numbers in a washing machine. It doesn't even almost 'make sense', it throws sense out the window into the loving arms of a trampouline while the firemen look the other way. The language ain't misbehavin', it's spankin' & thankin'.
For the complete review go here: https://www.goodreads.com/story/show/... ...more
Notes are private!
Nov 16, 2020
Nov 25, 2020
Jul 26, 2005
really liked it
Alexander McCall Smith's The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - November 2-4, 2020
For the full review go here: review of
Alexander McCall Smith's The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - November 2-4, 2020
For the full review go here: https://www.goodreads.com/story/show/...
Yet-another writer I'd never heard of, this turned out to be subtle & rewarding. I didn't know what to expect, I probably saw that the author was African
["Alexander McCall Smith was born in Bulawayo in 1948 to parents of British origin (his grandfather was born in Nairn, Scotland) in the British colony of Southern Rhodesia (present-day Zimbabwe), the youngest of four children. His father worked as a public prosecutor in Bulawayo. McCall Smith was educated at the Christian Brothers College in Bulawayo before moving to Scotland at age 17 to study law at the University of Edinburgh, where he earned his LLB and PhD degrees."
"He returned to southern Africa in 1981 to help co-found the law school and teach law at the University of Botswana. While there, he co-wrote The Criminal Law of Botswana (1992)." - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexand...]
& that got me interested, maybe I was expecting some light humor — as it turned out it was ripe w/ good human observation & even though it was a detective novel it wasn't full of what I'm used to: viz: brutality.
"Mma Ramotswe had a detective agency in Africa, at the foot of Kgale Hill. These were its assets: a tiny white van, two desks, a telephone, and an old typewriter. Then there was a teapot, in which Mma Ramotswe—the only lady detective in Botswana—brewed redbush tea. And three mugs—one for herself, one for her secretary, and one for the client. What else does a detective agency really need? Detective agencies rely on human intuition and intelligence. No inventory would include those, of course." - p 3
That's the opening paragraph. Notice that no guns are listed & no booze. Intuition & intelligence are the 2 prime ingredients. It was a pleasure to see how this wisdom played out. The detective is helped by being a math mnemonist.
""I did very well in my exams and at the end of the day I went off to Gaborone and learned how to be a bookkeeper. Again, it was very simple for me; I could look at a whole sheet of figures and understand it immediately. Then, the next day, I could remember every figure exactly and write them all down if I needed to." - p 9
Mma Ramotswe, the detective, doesn't distinguish herself by having superhuman stamina or some such — in many respects she's just down-to-earth, full of common sense, partially acquired by having made personal & common stupid misakes in her own life.
"She reflected on how the African tradition of support for relatives could cripple people. She knew of one man, a sergeant of police, who was supporting an uncle, two aunts, and a second cousin. If you believed in the old Setswana morality, you couldn't turn a relative away, and there was a lot to be said for that." - pp 11-12
A large part of this book is making Botswana seem like a nice place to live.
"I LOVE out country, and I am proud to be a Motswana. There's no other country in Africa that can hold its head up as we can. We have no political prisoners, and never have had any. We have democracy. We have been careful. The Bank of Botswana is full of money, from our diamonds. We owe nothing." - p 20
That seems almost too good to be true. What? Did the diamond miners not take all the profits & go live somewhere else? Are there no political prisoners because everyone's fairly happy with the government? This book was copyrighted 1998, let's see what the Great Oracle has to say about Botswana 22 yrs later.
"Botswana (/bɒtˈswɑːnə/ (￼listen), also UK: /bʊt-, bʊˈtʃw-/), officially the Republic of Botswana (Setswana: Lefatshe la Botswana; Kalanga: Hango yeBotswana), is a landlocked country in Southern Africa. Formerly the British protectorate of Bechuanaland, Botswana adopted its name after becoming independent within the Commonwealth on 30 September 1966. Since then, it has been a representative republic, with a consistent record of uninterrupted democratic elections and the lowest perceived corruption ranking in Africa since at least 1998. It is currently Africa's oldest continuous democracy. Botswana is topographically flat, with up to 70 percent of its territory being the Kalahari Desert. It is bordered by South Africa to the south and southeast, Namibia to the west and north, and Zimbabwe to the northeast. Its border with Zambia to the north near Kazungula is poorly defined but is, at most, a few hundred metres long.
"A mid-sized country of just over 2.3 million people, it is one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world. Around 10 percent of the population lives in the capital and largest city, Gaborone. Formerly one of the world's poorest countries—with a GDP per capita of about US$70 per year in the late 1960s—Botswana has since transformed itself into an upper middle income country, with one of the world's fastest-growing economies. The economy is dominated by mining, cattle, and tourism. Botswana has a GDP (purchasing power parity) per capita of about $18,825 per year as of 2015, one of the highest in Africa. Its high gross national income (by some estimates the fourth-largest in Africa) gives the country a relatively high standard of living and the highest Human Development Index of continental Sub-Saharan Africa.
"Botswana is a member of the African Union, the Southern African Development Community, the Commonwealth of Nations, and the United Nations. The country has been adversely affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Despite the success in programmes to make treatments available, and to educate the populace about how to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS, the number of people with AIDS rose from 290,000 in 2005 to 320,000 in 2013. As of 2014, Botswana has the third-highest prevalence rate for HIV/AIDS, with roughly 20% of the population infected."
I'm impressed, are you?
The mining industry is gone into a bit in the novel.
"They taught us Funagalo, which is the language used for giving orders underground. It is a strange language. The Zulus laugh when they hear it, because there are so many Zulu words in it but it is not Zulu. It is a language which is good for telling people what to do. There are many words for push, take, shove, carry, load, and no words for love, or happiness, or the sounds which birds make in the morning." - p 23
I have an ongoing interest in languages. I strongly suggest that you witness my entire 3rd opera on the subject:
624. "Endangered Languages, Endangered Cultures, Endangered Ideas"
- a 'primitive', but satisfactory, presentation of tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE's 3rd 'opera'
- 2k, 60p
- mainly made from 2016-2017
- 'finished' & uploaded in mid-June,2020
- because this is so high-definition (215.07GB) it had to be broken into its 4 acts to upload to my onesownthoughts YouTube channel:
- "Endangered Languages, Endangered Cultures, Endangered Ideas, Act 1" - 2k, 60p - 25:44 - 32:19GB - https://youtu.be/IYifS4vFq-Y
- "Endangered Languages, Endangered Cultures, Endangered Ideas, Act 2" - 2k, 60p - 46:45 - 62:08GB - https://youtu.be/XSsiSqC0T1Q
- "Endangered Languages, Endangered Cultures, Endangered Ideas, Act 3" - 2k, 60p - 54:23 - 93.56GB - https://youtu.be/xHWJH07x0Fo
- "Endangered Languages, Endangered Cultures, Endangered Ideas, Act 4" - 2k, 60p - 12:29 - 27.25GB - https://youtu.be/MC9LAlcXtoI
Doing so probably won't cure your bunions but then, chances are, you probably don't have bunions. Anyway, the above mention of Funagalo aroused my interest (down buoy!) so I'm consulting the Great Oracle again:
"Fanagalo is one of a number of African pidgin languages that developed during the colonial period to promote ease of communication. Adendorff (2002) suggests that it developed in the nineteenth century in KwaZulu-Natal Province as a way for English colonists to communicate with their servants and was also used as a lingua franca between English and Dutch/Afrikaans speaking colonists.
"Fanagalo was used extensively in gold and diamond mines because the South African mining industry employed workers on fixed contracts from across southern and central Africa: including Congo, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Malawi and Mozambique. With workers originating from a range of countries and having a vast range of different mother tongues, Fanagalo provided a simple way to communicate and is still used as a training and operating medium. Fifteen hours instruction was considered sufficient for an initiate to become reasonably fluent. See Witwatersrand Native Labour Association.
"Adendorff describes two variants of the language, Mine Fanagalo and Garden Fanagalo. The latter name refers to its use with servants in households. It was previously known as Kitchen Kaffir. (The term "kaffir" tended, in Southern Africa, to be used as a derogatory term for black people, and is now considered extremely offensive. It is derived from the Arab word Kafir, meaning unbeliever.)"
Fascinating. A language developed mainly to boss other people around. Oh, well, the following doesn't come as a surprise then does it?
"It was not unusual for a white miner to beat his men if he got into a temper. They were not meant to, but the shift bosses always turned a blind eye and let them get on with it. Yet we were never allowed to hit back, no matter how undeserved the blows. If you hit a white miner, you were finished. The mine police would be waiting for you at the top of the shaft and you could spend a year or two in prison." - p 24
The relative riches of one successful businessman are described.
"At the back, there was a small shack for a servant to live in, and a lean-to latrine made out of galvanized tin. The cousin had a kitchen with a shining new set of pans and two cookers. She had a large new South African paraffin-powered fridge, which purred quietly all day, and kept everything icy cold within." - p 40
Unlike most detective novels that I read some background is given about the character, background that 'humanizes' & explains strengths & weaknesses. Her human observations are interesting too.
""You didn't tell the police," she said, trying not to sound too accusing. "Why not?"
"The Reverend looked down at the ground, which, in her experience, was where people usually looked if they felt truly sorry. The shamelessly unrepentant, she found, always looked up at the sky." - p 68
I'll have to look out for that in the future. What I've noticed is that when the wind blows so that the lighter underside of leaves shows then it's going to rain. Can the 2 be combined somehow in connection w/ Marilyn Monroe's dress? & what about wealth? If my wealth were measured in terms of feral cats passing thru my backyard I'd be doing pretty good.
"He was undoubtedly one of the wealthiest men in the country, if not the wealthiest, but amongst the Botswana this counted for little, as none of the money had gone into cattle, and money which was not invested in cattle, as everybody knew, was but dust in the mouth." - p 94
Mma Ramotswe does actually follow someone.
"Nandira turned another corner. Mma Ramotswe held back before following her. It would be easy to become overconfident following an innocent child, and she had to remind herself of the rules of pursuit. The manual on which she relied, The Principles of Private Investigation by Clovis Andersen, stressed that one should never crowd one's subject. "Keep a long rein," wrote Mr. Andersen, "even if it means losing the subject from time to time. You can always pick up the trail later. And a few minutes of non-eye contact is better than an angry confrontation."" - p 106
The author is actually a white guy who lives in Scotland so he can be accused of all sorts of unspeakable crimes of taking the liberty of pseudo-representing black African culture. Here's a brief excerpt from an interview w/ him where he covers his ass over "Clovis Andersen".
"Q When Precious Ramotswe opens the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, she looks to "The Principles of Private Detection" for guidance. Did you read anything similar?
"A As a boy I read quite a lot of Agatha Christie, and I think the H.R.F. Keating novels set in Bombay are really rather nice, but I didn't do any organized research. "The Principles of Private Detection" by Clovis Andersen is an entirely imagined book, and, funnily enough, it's proved to be the bane of my life. I keep getting letters and e-mails from readers asking where they can get a copy. So now I think I shall have to write it, and with a name like Andersen, he'd have to come from the Midwest, don't you think? Perhaps even Minnesota."
The above interview mentions Smith's love of Jane Austen & I can see that in Ramotswe's observations of social conduct.
"The nurse looked at her suspiciously, but told her to wait while she went to fetch the doctor. A few minutes after she returned and said the doctor would be with her shortly.
""You should not disturb these doctors at the hospital," she said disapprovingly, "They are busy people."
"Mma Ramotswe looked at the nurse. What age was she? Nineteen, twenty? In her father's day, a girl of nineteen would not have spoken to a woman of thirty-five like that—spoken to her as if she were a child making an irritating request. But things were different now. Upstarts showed no respect for people who were older, and bigger too, than they were. Should she tell her that she was a private detective? No, there was no point in engaging with a person like this. She was best ignored." - p 176
Well, the nurse isn't quite a 'Millenial' so it's a hard call. Still, she's pompous & condescending, 2 common traits. If the mother detects things early enough, a wrong look, one kick too many, abortion's an answer. But, then, if abortion had been legal in 1953 I might not've been born. Personally, I think using the nurse as a live model for an irrelevant operation would be too good for her. This is where I might just have to bow to Anne Elliot's balanced opinion, I tend to be a bit too harsh.
Mma Ramotswe's most serious case involves a missing boy. The trail leads to a witch doctor. Fortunately for her, she has a reference that can get her a discount.
For the full review go here: https://www.goodreads.com/story/show/... ...more
Notes are private!
Sep 05, 2020
Nov 04, 2020
really liked it
William P. McGivern's A Choice of Assassins
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - October 30-31, 2020
I'm sure McGivern is an author that I ran ac review of
William P. McGivern's A Choice of Assassins
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - October 30-31, 2020
I'm sure McGivern is an author that I ran across positive mention of in someone else's novel & that's why I got this but I'm not sure what novel it was. It's the sort of thing I might not've picked up otherwise. The look of the cover is a bit too mainstream for me & the back cover has a big ad for James A. Michener's Caravans. I have a bad attitude about Michener. He must've been too popular. For all I know he was great. (Actually, I think I read one of his novels but I don't remember wch one.)
McGivern? I vaguely recall thinking that this was as good as Malcolm Lowry's Under the Volcano. I don't remember whether I read that, I'm pretty sure I saw the movie. I was reminded a bit of Hemingway although Hemingway's prose is more sparse. The main character is an alcoholic. He's in Franco's Spain. He tries to con a little girl into getting booze for him.
""I don't think you know my mother at all," Jenny said, and got deliberately to her feet. "I think you just want me to get a bottle of wine for you. Steal it for you, that's what it amounts to. And I don't think you're dirty because you like to be. You're dirty because you can't help it. You haven't told me the truth at all."
"Malcolm tried with extreme care to gauge his need for a drink. He decided after laborious calculations that he was good for another hour at least, and that he might as well spend that time sitting quietly in the sun. He thought of the bars in the village. The Quita Pena, the Seville, the Central. Somewhere he'd find a drink. Meanwhile he was all right. He wouldn't move. He was fine. He wouldn't even crawl into the shade. This was fine. There were no memories yet, no pain at all." - p 6
"Malcolm thought about the Bar Seville. He owed them money. Antonio had sent him away the last three or four times he had gone there. But when Antonio went home for supper, his b[r]other-in-law, Miguel, would be in charge. Miguel was stupid and sentimental, and he might give another bottle of wine. The Cantina? They had his cameras and most of his luggage, but even that didn't cover what he owed them. There was Domingo's place in the hills, but he knew he could never walk that far. And he was afraid of Domingo." - pp 10-11
Basically, there's one shitty scene after another.
"Jorge opened the door, placed a foot in the small of Malcolm's back and kicked him through the doorway into the street.
"Malcolm felt a rush of air on his face, stones stinging his hands and knees, and finally a tricle of slime running down the gutter against his face. He lay in the sunlight of a new day with flies gathering around his dark head, while the furies within him sheathed their claws, folded their wings, and waited for him to wake." - p 21
Malcolm's backstory begins to be explained.
"["]Tell me, Don Fernando, do you know anything about Tony Malcolm?"
""Nothing at all."
""He and his wife were well-known photographers and writers. They worked for important magazines, Life, Paris-Match, Réalités, Holiday, and so forth. Malcolm took the pictures, and his wife did the text. They were talented people, and their approach was always odd and unusual.["]" - p 23
Malcolm's desperation gets so extreme that he goes to the feared Domingo's.
"DOMINGO's was crowded that night, with fishermen pressed close together along the bar and waiters working quickly to serve the groups seated at tables. The first thing a stranger might've noticed was the silence; the waiters moved about as softly as cats, and the bartender, an old man named Pepe, tended to his customers with an almost priestlike gravity. There was no clatter of bottles or glasses, no ring of coins on the bar, and the fishermen, like devout acolytes, reflected the bartender's mood in their solemn expressions and hushed voices." - p 25
"Domingo was a Frenchman who had come to Spain near the end of the war with Germany. That much was definitely known about him, but the details of his background were obscure; some said he had deserted from the French army, others that he had collaborated with the German Occupation and had fled to escape reprisals from the Maquis." - p 26
This novel was published in 1963. Did English-speaking readers, even then, remember the Maquis? Or ever know who they were in the 1st place? The Wikipedia entry on just "Maquis" describes them as purely a WWII French phenomenon. My understanding of them is that they continued to be active in Northern Spain against the Francoist regime up until 1965. As such, they would've still been active when this book was written.
At Domingo's, Malcolm's desperation goes its furthest yet.
""I think we should play our cards," Clarke said.
""No, wait," Domingo said, looking intensely at Malcolm. "You're not crazy? But you'll kill yourself for a few pesetas?"
"Malcolm closed his eyes and nodded his head slowly. He felt nothing but relief, a blessed sense of impending peace, at this opportunity to put down the pointless, weary burden of his life.
""All right, I'll make you an offer," Domingo said. He paused to take a cigar from his pocket, light it, and flip the match aside carelessly. Then he said, "It's worth a glass of wine to me. One glass of wine."
""Make it brandy."
""All right then, brandy."
""You've got a deal," Malcolm said." - p 33
Then again, a deal w/ the devil might leave an unexpected dog wagging its forked tail.
The prostitute is trying to buy her way out fo this shit-hole by being an informer. It's not going so well.
""There was a man who came here a week or so ago, a very young man. He said Spain was dirty. He said all the people were thieves."
""Good," Don Fernando said, and began writing quickly in his notebook.
""He called Franco many bad names."
""Excellent," Don Fernando said. "An American?"" - p 37
"Now there were dangerous currents stirring in the country. Priests talking against the government, miners striking, students marching in various protests, bombs breaking the peace of large cities." - p 38
One of the things I find most strange about this last-quoted paragraph is "Priests talking against the government" given that the government was created to enable the priests to stay in power.
Domingo had set Malcolm up to not succeed in killing himself, instead he planned to use Malcolm as a hit man. This involved putting him up in a nice place to live & getting him cleaned & shaved & having his flunkies keep him under guard. But Malcolm's changed.
""I thought I'd take some pictures," he said.
""I don't like any of this," Zarren said. He seemed embarrassed by Malcolm's manner. "But I do what Domingo tells me to do. You cannot go out."
"Malcolm looked at him with a thoughtful smile. "You have a gun?"
""Don't be a fool."
""I'm curious about what you're going to do. I suppose you'll knock me down. The women in the kitchen will scream for the police. What will you tell them? That you didn't want me to to take pictures?"
"Zarren looked uncomfortable; there were drops of perspiration on his forehead. "Be sensible. I told you I didn't like this business."
""Why do you do something you don't like?"
""There are things I need. To get them I do other things. It's that simple."
""I don't find that simple at all," Malcolm said. He sighed and took the lapels of Zarren's coat in his hands. "You're not to leave," he said staring into his eyes. "Do you understand? You're my prisoner."" - p 49
Yes, Malcolm has transformed into a clever take-charge kindof a guy.. but there's the occassional side-effect.
"Suddenly Malcolm blinked his eyes, and his heart began to pound like a hammer against his ribs. In the soft moonlight, a curious transformation seemed to be taking place among the men and women in the garden.
"They were slowly turning into skeletons.
"Malcolm knew this must be an illusion, some disorderly projection of his mind or his optical nerves. He blinked his eyes rapidly, and pressed his fingers against his temples, but the strange illusion persisted stubbornly, and Malcolm felt his flesh crawling as he stared in helpless fascination at the grinning skulls, the ugly, saucer-shaped pelvic depressions, the spindly, ash-white assortment of rib cages and thigh bones which were gyrating before him in the silvery moonlight." - pp 69-70
I told him not to eat so much sugar at the party. Malcolm meets a writer of detective fiction who unwittingly helps build the outline of a plot of his.
"Neville sighed and sipped the punch. Then he looked questioningly at Malcolm. "You wished to speak to me?"
""Yes. You mentioned that you write detective stories."
"Neville glanced warily at him over his glass of punch. In the depths of his cold blue eyes flickered a cautious interest. "You like detective stories, is that it?"
""Yes, very much," Malcolm said untruthfully. "Do you write any other kind of fiction?"
"Neville's smile became icy. "No I write only detective stories, young man. I do not call them novels of ratiocination, or novels of violence, or novels of any other sort. Neither do I call them 'entertainments,' as one of our eminent authors prefers to when he deserts God for the nonce to do a bit of potboiling. He wants the Prize, of course, so he's on a precarious tightrope. Will the Nobel Committee overlook one last thriller, for instance, if he follows it up straightaway with an abstruse and pretentious essay on the Albigensian Heresy?"" - p 73
Now that's funny. Do you think McGivern was just itching to put words like that in the mouth of one of his characters?!
Malcolm meets some Germans who're fascinated by his reputation as the-guy-who-would-kill-himself-for-a-drink.
"They were associate professors at the University of Frankfurt, in the Department of Psychological studies" - p 79
They respectfully convince him to allow himself to undergo psychological tests.
"With the lights out and the shades drawn, Malcolm studied pictures of cloud formations on the motion picture screen. None of them seemed menacing to him, and this reaction—or lack of reaction—caused Wllie to stare at him anxiously." - p 86
Well, things jump ahead, as things will do, & the next thing you know I'm 66 pages further along & all sorts of interesting things have happened. Is this an Existentialist novel? It seems almost as much of one as does Camus's The Stranger but I'm not sure that Camus considered that Existentialist.
"They couldn't kill him, he realized with wonder; for it was suddenly apparent to him that these men craved fear as other men craved drugs or women or power. It had been Domingo's secret hold on them. And now they were longing for him to fill the vacuum created by that death." - p 152
Have I given away too much of the plot? Probably not. I hope I've given you a feel for what a psychodrama this was. McGivern's yet-another writer I'd never previously heard of who turned out to be quite good — may he not be neglected. ...more
Notes are private!
Aug 20, 2020
Oct 31, 2020
Nov 13, 2019
Dick Turner's New Math
- tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - July 2, 2020
Read the entire review here: https://www.goodreads.com/story/show/...
I do review of
Dick Turner's New Math
- tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - July 2, 2020
Read the entire review here: https://www.goodreads.com/story/show/...
I don't remember when I 1st met Dick Turner, maybe as early as 1982, maybe even earlier. I knew his sister & his brother & his mom too. It might seem like it would be easy to write a review of a work by someone that one's known that long but, for me, it isn't. It becomes not just a matter of reviewing the work, which is probably what Dick would prefer, but a matter of trying to draw in whatever general knowledge I have of Dick & his other work so as to saturate the review with depth. Making matters even 'worse' is that this bk is published by Tom DiVenti's Apathy Press Poets. I've known Tom even longer than Dick. SO, anticipating the problems, I emailed Dick about it & he replied in an informative manner. Hence, this review will include his interspersed commentary. To quote that exchange in order to explain why I wrote "It becomes not just a matter of reviewing the work, which is probably what Dick would prefer," I start w/ an excerpt in wch I mention Dick's main website home & my intended linking to it:
[tENT]: "I just looked thru the website, it's perfect for my purposes. I'm glad it has 2 movies based on stories in The New Math. They'll be great to link to. In fact, that website'll make reviewing the book much easier because I can explain you as multi-talented & explain that it's the combination of these talents that creates the biggest impact & then I can provide examples with the links.
[Dick]: "I regret to some degree that I am perceived that way by the people who know me. I try hard in my work to make individual objects, each with it's own identity. I think it's normal to see connections between what a person does but I feel that it takes away from the impact of individual works. But perhaps it's inevitable.
"My mind is compartmentalized I believe and that is why I work in different mediums.
"That is, when I draw, I draw, when I compose, I compose. I work within the medium at hand.
[..] "the works are each based upon their own set of principles, or so I believe." (June 20, 2020 email from Dick to tENT)
Nonetheless, I'm writing this review about Dick more as a whole creative person then by compartmentalizing the work b/c that's the way I read it. I don't think any reader perceives a work w/o previous experience informing their reading of it. In other words, if the reader had read fables as a child any resemblance of Dick's stories to those fables will resonate & influence the reading.
To quote more at length from said email:
"Here's the truth: the book is in a sense my autobiography in cryptic terms. Thus the references to my father, my mother, music, painting, fairy tales, a family vacation, the mother of my son (in the Italy poems), the alienation of living in Roland Park, etc, etc. The book is both autobiographical in terms of events and thought processes.
"If it helps at all the Prelude, the story Visitors and the Postlude are a sort of framework upon which the rest of the book is composed.
"That is, those three stories are about how I deal with ideas. Ideas are at the center of all my thinking. So is the concept of distance. The first story "Prelude" deals with how ideas show up somewhat randomly, the second "Visitors", the selection process, the third "Postlude" the distance one feels from them - after a work has been completed or from one's own experience when looking back.
"For me the book is a whole, not a collection of random stories. My goal in putting them together was to have a certain [rhythm] between the stories, rising and falling action, create an overall form like in music." (June 20, 2020 email from Dick to tENT — slightly corrected by Dick on July 1, 2020)
NOW, to backtrack to more of my own personal reminiscences. In the early days of my friendship w/ Dick I knew mostly of his compositional talents. He & his brother worked on movies together, Dick both composing the soundtracks & acting in them, Henry writing & filming them. The ones that he & Henry did together are probably these:
1995 "Gun to My Head/Gun to Your Head"
1991 "Wilber Whateley's Sex Drive"
1989 "Edgar Allen Poe's PYM"
1984 "Danse Macabre"
I remember seeing the middle 3 (i.e.: "Strangers" thru "Edgar Allen Poe's PYM"). Henry moved to Los Angeles in May, 1995, & Dick moved to Paris in January, 1996, thusly ending their team. I moved away in 1994, 1st to Berlin, then to Canada, then to Buffalo, finally 'shipwrecked' in Pittsburgh. While we were all in BalTimOre together a new film by the Turner Brothers was always an event to look forward to. There weren't that many independent movie-makers in the city so a new release was always exciting (for those few of us who cared).
In 1990, Dick participated in a Krononautic Organism event called VEX by contributing a piece called "Eloquent Voices" for car horns. I made a super-8 film of things happening that day & night & used an excerpt from Dick's piece, wch I participated in, as the soundtrack: https://youtu.be/fGDsj1ZJnMU .
A few yrs before Dick left for Paris, in 1992, he invented The Smile Machine, a mood impovement aid of sorts. I was the 1st customer! I bought one at the "Smile Machine Cerebration" at the 14 Karat Kabaret. Dick's website about the device is here:
My website about it is here:
Dick came to visit me in Pittsburgh in July, 2007, & we performed on the same bill at Garfield Artworks on July 7, 2007. Also on the bill was The Bureau of Nonstandards. This got us to thinking of doing a tour together — something I set about trying to arrange in French Canada, an area where I'd once had some small renown. Alas, my renown was from too long ago & I was back to being a 'nobody'. I cdn't find anyone who was interested in booking us. We had to cancel the possibility of the tour.
In 2010, I published a 2-cassette retrospective of Dick's music in a limited edition of 26 (#027 here: http://idioideo.pleintekst.nl/WdmUCat... ). You can see some images of that publication on my above-linked-to Smile Machine page.
In 2018, Dick came to Pittsburgh to participate in the UNDERAPPRECIATED MOVIEMAKERS FESTIVAL that I organized . He screened his 2 main movies that he'd made in Paris post working w/ his brother: "La Grosse Commission" (Shit Happens) & "Nature morte avec des oranges". He has a webpage promoting these movies here: https://dickturner3.wixsite.com/dick-... . Despite an almost complete lack of interest in the festival by the general public this was a wonderful fertile time. My complete movie of it is here: https://youtu.be/KwlfRxmRU3E . Dick screened his movies & talked about them & played a solo set at the closing night 'party'.
Dick's an excellent trombonist & it was a delight to be able to play some sessions with him both at my home & at outside venues. As usual I documented it all. Four of these duets can be witnessed edited together as "4 X 2": https://youtu.be/1v2B4LgivH0 .
AND NONE OF THAT EVEN GETS INTO DICK AS A PERSON.
In general, I find Dick to be an exceptionally scholarly, thoughtful, well-spoken & polite person to the extent that I'm grateful for his mere existence & for the good fortune I have in being his friend. Long may he prosper! It's so rare for me to be able to reference just about anything & to receive a reaction other than a blank stare from the person I'm addressing, Dick has actually read ancient Greek philosophy or listened to 19th century classical music or.. it might not seem like much but Dick's being "self-taught", as he says in the quote below, means that he has a curious mind — a quality I find almost completely lacking in the society of SHEEPLE that I think Dick & I both find ourselves moving in an oppostie direction to on an almost daily basis.
"My concept of myself, for whatever it's worth, is the following: I am someone who likes getting and expressing ideas. I guess I'd call it synthetic thought, finding/creating connections between things. It is the only thing I can do as far as I can tell, my attempts at practical life having been not too overwhelmingly successful. I prefer music as a medium, it's the only medium I can't live without but I enjoy painting, drawing, writing, film, etc if I get an idea. I think I am some form of a "late classical composer", I call myself a "neo-primitive" [..] because I am self-taught and like the classical forms as a basis of my work." (June 20, 2020 email from Dick to tENT)
But, what about the bk?! It's interspersed w/ Dick's drawings. Most of them show human body parts intermingled w/ each other in one grotesquely dysfunctional blob. The body parts might still imply functionality but they're displaced. Hence 4 fingers might form an "X" w/o the rest of the hand & a mouth w/ teeth & an exceptionally long tongue might protrude. Further up the blob, there's another mouth. At least 4 eyes populate the blob, the whole of wch appears to be floating, levitating. An intestinal looking protuberance protrudes from the top next to a penis that has an open eye where the scrotum might ordinarily be. You can see this drawing herein inadequately described on the cover of the bk. There's a feel to these drawings, for me they're like introspective symbols of distress, exceptional deviant mutant spawn, something a psychoanalyst might use — wch doesn't mean that Dick sees them or intends them that way! It's typical for Dick to be philosophical & I can see the drawings as illustrations of a convoluted philosophical process. Take this simple beginning to his 2nd story, "A Failed Epic":
"I don't know how it is in your life but in mine everything risks getting complicated. For example, when someone asks me how I am I feel I have two choices, either say I am fine or give a more detailed account of things in my life. Knowing the second is seldom successful I keep it simple meaning no one gets bored but nothing really gets said." - p 3
Indeed, I know the dilemma well! I often tell people in conversation that something I'm trying to address is "complicated", knowing full well that their attn span is only a few seconds long & that there's no chance I can explain what I'd like to in the allotted time — esp given that they're not in the least bit interested anyway.
Dick's stories consistently remind me of fables, they have a simplicity of presentation & tend toward philosophically evocative conclusions. But they're twisted, not necessarily dramatically, just enough to show that we're no longer in the day of Aesop. Take this excerpt from "The Ant":
"I was sittting on a bench when I heard the sound of stomping feet and clapping hands but unaccompanied by any recognizable rhythm. I turned my head and I saw a man coming down the footpath that leads from the garden gate. He was indeed stomping and clapping in some unrecognizable pattern and I wondered if he wasn't a musician; perhaps a performer of some rhythmically vigorous contemporary music; I thought I recognized a passage from the stochastically composed "Nomos Alpha" of Iannis Xenakis. When he was passing in front of me I excused myself and asked him if he wasn't a musician?
"From how quickly he responded I knew he welcomed my question; he clearly wanted to talk to someone; I was there so it was me. He was very direct.
"He told me he was killing bugs; any bug, harmless or harmful, it made no difference to him." - pp 22-23
The story's not shocking, there's more of a wry humor to it. These are the observations of a quiet, thoughtful person; the exaggerations bring out subtleties, sometimes these exaggerations present Dick's somewhat pessimistic view of society. Here're excerpts from "To The Peoples Committee":
"I, Dick Turner (legal name Henry Dickinson Turner, Jr., Prisoner Number 1959122), composer and artist, freely and under no coercion do make the following statement.
"I am guilty of grave social irresponsibility both in my work as in my private life and thought.
I regret this and shall work to improve myself.
"Believing erroneously in the so-called Cult of the Individual I have pursued a solitary course in my work refusing participation in the important movements of my time flagrantly dismissing them as corporate controlled reflections of consumer culture and the ideology of the state.
I regret this and shall work to improve myself." - p 29
Now, does that seem like a statement made "under no coercion"?! Of course not! Even if most other people barely notice, Dick & I both live in societies where individualism is discouraged, where Free Thinking is almost completely taboo. This is presented as being for the general good but it's really mainly for the good of the manipulators. The SHEEPLE don't care b/c they have no individuality to hold dear. It's one thing to have a mind of yr own to begin w/, it's quite another to pretend that yr prefabricated one is anything else. In Dick's fantasy, he's attempting to pull a Galileo. Unfortunately for his survival, he's too much of a Giordano Bruno for it to work:
EXECUTION TO FOLLOW" - p 32
I'm happy to say that Dick is far from being such a victim, poor Bruno WAS. Thank goodness that every thinking person I know has been spared persecution beyond being somewhat 'doomed' to alienation. Dick gets philosophical again:
"One of the marvels of the human mind is its faculty of interpretation; its ability to find connections between information and events which may at first seem completely separate." - p 34
This philosophizing leads into the story:
"Twenty-five years ago there was a painting exposition of a single work in the basement of an abandoned building in Baltimore.
"The work, by an unknown artist, was purchased by a collector who wished to remain anonymous at the suggestion of someone whose identity has yet to be established.
"The exposition was unattended and the painting was hung with its face to the wall.
"A colloquium is being held to discuss the technique used by the artist and the subject matter of the canvas." - p 35
The punchline brings the lofty down to the earthy:
Read the entire review here: https://www.goodreads.com/story/show/... ...more
Notes are private!
Jun 07, 2020
Jul 01, 2020
Sep 17, 2019
it was amazing
I GENERALLY DON'T REALLY REVIEW MY OWN BOOKS HERE.
SO, this isn't really a review, it's just the blurb reviews that grace the back cover of the book. I GENERALLY DON'T REALLY REVIEW MY OWN BOOKS HERE.
SO, this isn't really a review, it's just the blurb reviews that grace the back cover of the book. I see that Eddie Watkins, another Goodreads writer, has already posted his blurb review + some links on his own. Thanks, Eddie! I'm repeating his review here again anyway, partially for thoroughness & partially because it's so excellent.
"Alan Davies has gone where no one has gone before. No, not on the Enterprise, but into the mind of tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE, America's favorite Pataphysician, now fully eschewing art in favor of mad science, reveals to Alan what he really thinks about all those poses of the worlds of art and poetry. "I've long since rejected being an 'artist' b/c it's my opinion that art is an uncreative context & I prefer to be creative." From the censorship of his work to the explosive revelations of his most rational analysis, reading the interview between two of America's most radical artists is a consummation of something incredibly perverse under your Christmas tree." — James Sherry, poet, essayist, publisher of Roof Books
"My job as Sacred Scribe of the Church of the SubGenius has brought me into contact with some DAMNED interesting, and, even better, damned WEIRD indiviudals. Of the many hundreds, perhaps many thousands of weirdos I have known, the man we call Saint tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE stands out as one of the earliest-met and yet, even 35 years later, still among the very most weird and interesting. His startling originality and sheer testicularity would be enough to qualify him as a SubGenius Saint. But on top of that he's a nice fellow. But you know he must be pretty smart, because you can kind of see his brain under his hair." - Rev. Ivan Stang, Sacred Scribe #273, Church of the SubGenius
"Buxom blond bombshell, Miss Belinda Blurb, in the act of blurbing, once famously blurted out, "Yes, this is a 'BLURB'." Those words are as true today as when they were first written by Galett Burgess in 1907. Over thirty years ago, tENTATIVELY a cONVENIENCE, exposed me to the joys of subverting reality, and changed my life in the process. Here in 2013, Mr. cONVENIENCE has done it again with another excellent installment in his inspirational series of must read, self help books. Mr. cONVENIENCE inspires us all with his insightful observations, entertaining anecdotes, and shoddy financial advice. If YOU are going to READ BOOKS this year, THIS could be ONE of those BOOKs." — Vermin Supreme, Presidential Candidate
"As so much of tENT's work aspires to an apotheosis of self-referntiality, wherein the work's workings are explicated as they are embodied in the work itself, the personal interview is in many ways the perfect form for his ideas. As one of tENT's laziest readers I welcome the relatively un-coded directness of this book, and for the opportunity to learn more about his life, from his earliest adventures in reading (which accounts reached in and tickled my little boy brain) to his last mega-word. This book is relatively easy to ingest, but is filled with seeds that swell and germinate inside the receptive head. As with all his work it is rigorously logical yet zany; laced with ideas from the "highest" partials yet rooted and practical; and serious yet funny. These are not contradictions though many might take them as such, and they are not so much strategies to evade intellectual entrapment (however worthy an endeavor) as self-flowering practices of our innate freedom and inherent weirdness. tENT as esoteric everyman! Listen and learn! But open this book at your own risk, as the attentive tENTian reader will begin to die laughing while reading it. I'll laugh through my last breath any day, so long as tENT never finishes pronouncing his last word, laughing as he goes." - Eddie Watkins, poet, GoodReads reviewer ...more
Notes are private!
Apr 16, 2020
Dec 17, 1999
it was amazing
Richard Kostelanetz edited E. E. Cummings' AnOther E. E. Cummings
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - March 10-17, 2020
for the full review: htt review of
Richard Kostelanetz edited E. E. Cummings' AnOther E. E. Cummings
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - March 10-17, 2020
for the full review: https://www.goodreads.com/story/show/...
I, & the world, owe a great debt of gratitude to Richard Kostelanetz for the depth & scholarliness & passion that he's dedicated to his studies of the avant-garde. Until I read this bk, I'd somewhat dismissed Cummings as 'avant-garde lite', now I think he's a truly great writer that I'm happy to've finally come to appreciate.
Near the beginning there's a section of relevant quotes. Here're 3 selections:
"[Guillaume Apollinaire] achieved the final dismemberment of poetry as an exposition in the "calligrammatic" style, often undeniably effective, sometimes merely cute. The visual aptness of these poems is seldom matched by appropriate qualities of sound, which Apollinaire could easily have produced. His idiogrammatic ideas did not find such disciplined application as we find later in E. E. Cummings, Ezra Pound, and Charles Olson.
—Roger Shattuck, The Banquet Years (1958)" - p vii
"Cummings was . . . the very model of a modern anarchist general; the kinky sexuality—surrogate whores, doll-women, weird dildos, and assorted promiscuities" —Robert Peters, Where the Bee Sucks (1994) - p viii
"Simultanism, the third voice of life, signifies an approach to immobility and this an extremely sensitive attunement to the infinite universe. Baudelaire, Bergson, and Cummings are all describing this state.
—Roger Shattuck, The Banquet Years (1958)" - p viii
Note that 2 of these quotes are from The Banquet Years, a bk that was important to me when I was in my early 20s in the 1970s. As for the middle quote.. well.. "An anarchist general"? Perhaps Peters is unaware of this being a contradiction — or perhaps, typically of so many people, he simply doesn't understand anarchism.
In a dedication "To the memory of S. Foster Damon (1893—1971) that follows this brief section of quotes it's stated that Damon "owned a rare copy of Gertrude Stein's Tender Buttons, which delighted and bewildered Cummings. (p ix) It's worth noting that I made a movie of me sucking pussy while reading the entirety of "Tender Buttons" & that an excerpt from the audio from that is on my Significantly Different from the Other One CD. "Tender Buttons" is possibly my favorite of the Stein that I've read. I detested her The Making of Americans (see my review here: https://www.goodreads.com/story/show/... ).
In Kostelanetz's Preface he states that:
"I wanted to do an anthology that would gather in one place this Other Cummings, much as an earlier anthology, The Yale Gertrude Stein (1980)"
"AnOther Cummings represents the fruit of twenty-five years of thinking and perhaps a decade of selecting" - pp xiii-xiv
I have a copy of The Yale Gertrude Stein & I'm glad I do but I think that one of the reasons why Gertrude Stein 'scholarhip' tends to the shallow b/c academics primarily read the work in excerpt instead of reading entire pieces. This attitude that 'that's enough to get the idea' leads to work like The Making of Americans being praised by people who've never read more than a few pages of it. Let's hope the same thing doesn't happen w/ Cummings. It's my DUTY now to read entire Cummings bks rather than just the delightful excerpts collected here.
From the Introduction:
"No one would dispute the opinion that E. E. cummings (1894—1962) ranks among the prominent modern American poets. What is surprising, and thus debatable, is that no other major American poet of his generation remains so neglected and misunderstood."
"Even when Cummings is acknowledged, it is usually for his more conventional lyric poems. Richard Ellmann's higbrow The New Oxford Book of American Verse (1976) is no different from Nancy Sullivan's more mundane Treasury of American Poetry in including only his lyrics, while he appears not at all in Helen Vendler's The Harvard Book of Contemporary American Poetry (1985), even though he ranks among Harvard's more distinguished literary alumni."
"Only one scholar, Milton A. Cohen, has written a book about another dimension of his creativity—the paintings and drawings, on which he worked most of his daytimes; indeed, they have never been satisfactorily exhibited or sompletely examined." - pp xv-xvi
I'm certainly amongst the 1st to praise & support the work of the UNDERAPPRECIATED (see my documentary about the UNDERAPPRECIATED MOVIEMAKERS FESTIVAL: https://youtu.be/KwlfRxmRU3E ) but it's a little hard for me to accept Cummings into that category. After all, his writing has been widely published & distributed. I wd've known about it at a fairly young age, at a time when I wdn't've been very aware of a variety of poetics. AND, as this very bk makes clear, Cummings gave Norton lectures at Harvard in 1952 & had a show of his artwork at the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester in 1945. As such, he might be 'neglected' in contrast to, say, an extremely popular author such as Stephen King, but he's nowhere near as obscure as I am or as many other people are.
"Some of his affectations were disaffecting, such as not capitalizing the first person singular. (Spelling his name entirely in lower-case letters was someone else's invention that should be forgotten.)" - p xvi
Thank you, Kostelanetz, I didn't know that. All these decades, I thought that Cummings spelled his name in all lower-case as a self-effacing continuation of "not capitalizing the first person singular" — it's good to have that misinformation revealed.
"As the epigraph to this essay suggests, Cummings observed a clear distinction between ordinary speech and poetry. The former was common language; the latter, exceptional language. Thus, contrary to current fashion, he enthusiastically used such traditional devices as meter, alliteration, resonant line breaks, and even rhyme." - p xvii
"A second rich Cummings device was the use of one part of speech to function in place of another. Thus, verbs sometimes appear as nouns:
my father moved through dooms of love
through sames of am through haves of give
As Malcolm Cowley carefully observed in the New Republic (Jan. 27, 1932), nouns also "become verbs ('but if a look should april me') or they become adverbs by adding 'ly,' or superlative adjectives by adding 'est' (thus, instead of writing 'most like a girl,' Cummings has 'girlest'). Adjectives, adverbs, and conjunctions, too, become participles by adding 'ing' ('onlying,' 'softlying,' 'whying,'); participles become adverbs by adding 'ly' (kneelingly')."" - p xviii
That, predictably enuf, interests me much more than the use of tradtional means, Cummings manages to skew familiarity, it's still familiar but it's bent out of shape or sculpted anew. As such, it's akin to Modern Art of roughly the same time &/or earlier: Cubism (Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon (1907)), Futurism (Boccioni's Unique Forms of Continuity in Space (1913)), etc.
"Though Cummings was nearly an exact contemporary of Vladimir Mayakovsky (1893-1930), the two never met and probably had no effect upon each other; nonetheless, Cummings illustrates Mayakovsky's dictum: "Neologisms are obligatory in writing poetry."" - p xxii
"Cummings probably worked as hard at his paintings and drawings as he did at his writing, the former being done by day and the latter at night. More than 2,000 completed paintings exist; the Houghton Library at Harvard reportedly has over 10,000 sheets of drawings. His literary eminence notwithstanding, Cummings had remarkably few exhibitions and scare dealer representation." - p xxiii
This bk was copyrighted in 1998. Much has changed since then as to what's easily searchable online. Going to https://eecummingsart.com I find "Paintings, Drawings & Sketches for Sale" by Cummings available from "Ken Lopez Bookseller". The work is browseable by subject (Landscapes, Portraits, Abstracts, Nudes, Still Lifes, & City & Interiors) &/or by medium (Oil Paint, Watercolor, Ink, Pencil). I find the artwork to be generally uninteresting, maybe there's good reason why it's unknown in relation to Cummings's writing. Take an oil painting labeled as "full moon, tree, and mountain" (Item # 0901) made on "1945-02-14" ( https://eecummingsart.com/gallery/art... ): there's broadness of gesture, prominent brushstrokes, slightly garish colors. In other words, nothing as new as "Adjectives, adverbs, and conjunctions, too, become participles by adding 'ing' ('onlying,' 'softlying,' 'whying,')".
I find a drawing that's vaguely more interesting to me: Item # 0011, described as a "figurative abstraction", no date ( https://eecummingsart.com/gallery/art... ). It's vaguely Chagallesque & I like Chagall. It's small, ripped & appears to have what might be a glue stain. The price online is $1,750. I might buy it if the price were 10% of that — but then I've spent most of my life in poverty. In general, I find the work slightly above amateurish — but not by much.
The 1st porm presented by Cummings is under the heading of "Deviant Traditional Verse":
"guilt is the cause of more disauders
than history's most obscene marorders" - p 3
&, yes, I find that very elegant. By taking the ends of dis-orders & mar-auders & switching their places, Cummings directs the reader to mentally (or audibly) slightly distort the pronuniciation. "order" & "auder" are close enuf to each other to still 'work' but far enuf apart to result in implied neologisms. What wd a "disauder" be? What wd a "marorder" be? & how do these implied new meanings tie in to Cummings's philosophical claim?
There is plenty of sex, something I didn't associate w/ Cummings in my 'avant-garde lite' image of him:
" she,straddling my lap,
hinges(wherewith I tongue each eager pap)
and.reaching down,by merely fingertips
the hungry Visitor steers to love's lips
Whom(justly as she now begins to sit,
almost by almost giving her sweet weight)
O,how those hit thighs juicily embrace!
and (instant by deep instant)as her face
watches,scarcely alive,that magic Feast
greedily disappearing least by least—
though what a dizzily palpitating host
(sharp inch by inch)swoons strenly my huge Guest!
until(quite when our touching bellies dream)
unvisibly love's furthest secrets rhyme." - p 6
It's interesting to me the way I'm unnerved by Cummings not putting spaces after punctuation — but, then, why is it 'needed'? The punctuation serves its conventional purpose w/o the space, the space becomes superfluous. BUT, THEN, in line 7, he has the space: "and (instant" & I wonder whether that's a typo or whether he's fucking w/ the reader. I shd mention that the 1st line is actually substantially indented but I've never gotten such indentations to work here on Goodreads.
In general, I love the language, his wordplay always keeps things lively & surprising.
"helves surling out of eakspeasies per(reel)hapsingly
proregress heandshe-ingly people
trickle curselaughgroping shrieks bubble
squirmwrithed staggerful unstrolls collaps ingly
flash a of-faceness stuck thumblike into pie
is traffic this recalls hat gestures bud
plumptumbling hand voices Eye Doangivuh sud-
denly immense impotently Eye Doancare Eye
And How replies the upsuirtingly careens
the to collide flatfooting with Wusyuhname
a girl-flops to the Geddup curb leans
carefully spewing into her own Shush Shame
as(out from behind Nowhere)creeps the deep thing
everybody sometimes calls morning" - p 11
There's that switching again. "helves surling" cd've been 'shelves hurling', more specifically: 'shelves hurling out of speakeasies' — & isn't "ingly" lovely on its own detached from its usual end position?
But how do you feel about science there E.E.?
"of Course life being just a Reflex you know since Everything is Relatives or
to sum it All Up god being Dead(not to
mention in Terred)
LONG LIVE that Upwardlooking
Serence Illustrious and Beatific
Lord of Creation,MAN:" - p 22
[indentation on line 4]
People seem generally so content to use punctuation as is generally done, Cummings loves to shake it up, I find it so refreshing.
ar:e.by(" - p 26
Even if one finds it nonsensical, i.e.: not contributing to semantic content, so what? There's a sense of liberation to it.
"BALLAD OF AN INTELLECTUAL" is practically long by Cummings standards, a whole 2pp w/o much space. It seems a bit sarcastic about the intellectual &, yet, I'd say that Cummings was one so..
There's even an "EROTIC POETRY" section. I have mixed feelings about erotica in general. It's usually too 'soft porn' for me. Still, I like Cummings's, I can relate somehow. Maybe it's just the heterosexuality of it.
"there is between my legs a crisp city.
when you touch me
it is Spring in the city;the streets beautifully writhe,
it is for you;do not frighten them,
all the houses terribly tighten
upon your coming:
and they are glad
as you fill the streets of my city with children." - p 66
"skies may be blue;yes
(when gone are hail and sleet and snow)
but bluer than my darling's eyes,
spring skies are no
hearts may be true;yes
(by night or day in joy or woe)
but truer than your lover's is,
hearts do not grow
nows may be new;yes
(as new as april's first hello)
but new as this our thousanth kiss,
no now is so" - p 69
It's odd, to me at least, that I picked the above 2 to quote from. Neither is particularly explicit, as some of the others are, & the 2nd is downright romantic. My slip is showing.
Under "LANGUAGE EXPERIMENTS" this one is printed on the page sideways w/ the left margin parallel to the bottom of the page:
"life hurl my
yes,crumbles hand(ful released conarefetti)ev eryflitter,inga. where
mil(lions of aflickf)litter ing brightmillion of S hurl;edindodg:ing
whom areEyes shy-dodge is bright cruMbshandful,quick-hurl edinwho
Is flittercrumbs,fluttercrimbs are floatfallin,g;allwhere:
a:crimbflitteringish is arefloatis ingfallall!mil,shy milbrightlions
my(hurl flicker handful
in)dodging are shybrigHteyes is crum bs(all)if,ey Es" - p 84
&, like most or all sensible & kind people, Cummings is against war:
for the full review: https://www.goodreads.com/story/show/... ...more
Notes are private!
Mar 08, 2020
Mar 17, 2020
Oct 21, 2022
really liked it
Alfred Bester's Who He?
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - November 2-4, 2019
I've read 7 Bester bks before this one but I haven't reviewed any review of
Alfred Bester's Who He?
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - November 2-4, 2019
I've read 7 Bester bks before this one but I haven't reviewed any of them b/c I read them before I started reviewing here at age 54. The ones I'd read previously were The Demolished Man (1953), Starburst (1941-1954), The Stars My Destination (1956), The Dark Side of Earth (1953-1959), The Computer Connection (1975), Golem100 (1980), & The Deceivers (1981). He shd probably be one of my favorite SF writers but, alas, I read them so long ago I don't remember them as much as I'd like. Who He? is a non-SF 'straight' novel of his from 1953. It appears that his straight novel writing was underappreciated much as Philip K. Dick's efforts in that direction were. Too bad, this was a great bk. Here's the 1st paragraph:
"Every morning I hate to be born, and every night I'm afraid to die. I live my life within these parentheses, and since I'm constantly walking a tightrope over hysteria, I'm perceptive to the dilemmas of other people as they cross their own chasms." - p 3
I like that as a beginning, it's a nice set-up, very evocative w/o nailing anything down. What might happen next? The unusual title is explained early on:
"The locale of this story is a show I never worked. It's a TV variety clam-bake called "Who He?" . . . one of those lunatic mish-mashes that started out as a panel quiz show and ended up as a musical." - p 5
When I think of 1950s SF I often remember a story about a man who invents the 'perfect' advertising jingle that people can't get out of their minds — the result being, of course, that he gets carted away in a strait-jacket b/c he's incapable of anything but having this jingle looping in his mind. In other words, SF tackled the newness of advertising as post-WWII pernicious mind-control being developed before the writers's very eyes. Bester's take on the competitiveness of TV is similarly analytical/critical. The main character develops a split-personality.
"Occasionally the conscious mind gave way, which is why Jake Lennox awoke on Christmas night in the role of another man. He was convinced that he was Mr. Clarence Fox from Philadelphia." - p 10
"Myself, I don't like Square parties; neither does my wife. Squares are all right, but there's an invisible barrier between us and them. For one thing, our tempos don't match. We can throw away a dozen gags while a square is beating a cliché to death, For another thing, Squares persist in thinking about the entertainment business the same way they did back in Victorian times. To them we're artificial, child-like and irresponsible. When Squares learn that I'm a writer, I can see that look pass over their faces . . . the look that says: He's lazy and hates to get up in the morning." - p 37
You know the saying: "Be there or be square" or shd I say: "Be there or I won't see you around"? Anyway, regarding Victorian entertainment: where does The Pearl fit in? Well, you've heard of the Hays Code, right? But have you heard of the Gabby Hayes Code?
"She was twenty-eight. Her father had been an old-line Socialist and had worked with Eugene Debs. He had come from a French Colonial family which had lived in Indo-China for generations and, I suspect, probably intermarried with natives." - pp 46-47
Now the above quote isn't even complete enuf to give the punchline to the otherwise incomprehensible nonsense of its preceding paragraph. Don't that just beat off?!
The TV show has been receiving threatening letters w/ ambiguously intended receipient(s):
there will never be any
Happy New Year for you!
This is the last warning.
Be killing you New Years.
Guess Who" - p 64
Ya gotta watch out for those Canadian one-hit wonders. A police detective gets involved.
""She was lying," Fink explained. "You have to be good to make all of you lie at the same time. Part of you always gives the truth away. That finger gave her away. Dugan's down here." He picked up a long-handled shovel and began turning over coke in the wooden bunkers.
""Dugan's down here?"
""Uh-huh. Didn't you see his war picture? The wives hate to give up the pension when the husbands die, so sometimes they don't report the death. But they have to hide the body . . ." Fink shoveled vigorously, then grunted: "Look."
"A hand and arm were thrust out of the coke." - p 78
That seems realistic, just like a wife wd murder her husband if she can get more that way. Then there's addiction to poison, that, too, seems potentially realistic — arsenic has been used to treat blood cancer, mightn't a person become addicted?
""Here's the gimmick. You know about the dope habit. People start hitting heroin or cocaine and can't get off the hook. Well, the same thing happens with poison."
""I don't believe it."
""Some people acquire the poison habit. They eat arsenic for their health and—"
""That's right. They take it in small doses so it isn't lethal and they build up a tolerance for it."
""They've got an idea it's good for them. For malaria. A tonic. An aphrodisiac. But dig this. Once they start they can't stop. It's habit forming like dope. They've got to keep on eating poison the rest of their lives."
""I'll be damned."
""And they thrive on it, Jake. That's the truth."" - p 80
But what happens during withdrawal? "The toxicophagi became dependent on the arsenic, and suffered ill consequences if they ceased using it. The symptoms of withdrawal included anxiety, indigestion, loss of appetite, vomiting, constipation and spasmodic pain." ( http://ultimatehistoryproject.com/ars... ) As for thriving on it? Don't count on that: "Although arsenic eaters appeared to develop a certain tolerance for the poison, and many showed no signs of chronic poisoning, Tschudi pointed out that the number of deaths from abuse of arsenic was not trifling." (ibid) As for gag writers? Gag orders can be fatal to us. Imagine being a homonymphonemiac.
"Mason's three gag writers were seated on camp chairs in a tight circle bitching their competitors.
"Lennox greeted them perfunctorily. He had long ago given up all attempts to communicate with them. Gag writers are alien creatures and even a casual "Hello" can lead to complications. Their entire lives boil down to a single-minded search for jokes and it's impossible to conduct a coherent conversation with them." - p 104
Bester gives us a taste of all sorts of things 1953ish, including a variety of sexism that probably exists to this day but has had to disguise itself in some classes.
"Lennox searched her face, then nodded. He was beginning to learn how transparently honest she was. "All the same, I wish you'd quit the politics, Gabby. There must be other things for you to do."
"Her eyes flashed angrily. "What other things?"
""I don't know. Lady things. Take the long view. We've got a whole life to plan together. Go vote at the polls like an honest citizen and let it go at that. You and I are more important than—"
""Have you any idea of how offensive you're being?" Gabby interrupted.
""Offensive?"" - p 134
Nope, he doesn't. Our 'hero' can be a real jackbootass. & ya can't even blame it on the Rat Race.
"As a nobody on The Rock, Cooper had been living in happy obscurity, ignored by the poison eaters. Now he was spotlighted and they declared open season on him. The Ned Bacons cut him down to their size. The Mig Masons resented his claim on their exclusively owned limelight. The pretty girls took hold to climb over him to fresh heights. The pretty boys saw in him another celebrated name to drop and to bitch. The property owners marked him for future possession. And all this took place under the surface of the congratulations and compliments, like a poison ring inside a Borgia handclasp." - p 147
The Rock Race is pushy.
""I just been talking sense to your friend," Ween rumbled. "Only he can't count the fingers in front of his eyes."
""I'm in no position to sign with anybody," Cooper pleaded. "Don't be mad, Tooky. Let it go at that."
""I ain't mad, boy, but you need handling. It's handling that makes the difference between a property and a non-property."
""I don't want to be property. I don't want any part of this crazy hassle. Now leave me alone, will you Tooky? I'm wrung out."" - p 151
In 1995 I was playing an uncert at a Speak in Toronto & a guy approached me & told me that he cd arrange gigs for me, maybe at raves. He did warn, however, that he was a sadist. I declined his services.
A woman who has a grudge against Lennox claims that she knows who's out to get him.. but she's Knott telling: "At the side door she turned and screamed: "I know him and I ain't going to tell. Never. But I'll be up to the show Sunday, watching. And when Knott catches up with you . . . remember my ass!"" (p 189)
Is that part of having your life flashing before you? 1st someone's Knott-telling, then someone's Ruth-lessly fired:
""Yes, Mr. Audibon. What Bleutcher is that, please?"
""Tom Bleutcher of Mode Shoes. Brockton, Mass. Check the "Who He?" file." Audibon licked his lips. "Everybody on my team is expected to know the name and number of every player. This advice will be of value to you in your next job which will start at the end of the week."" - p 191
& how did character assassination work in the '50s?
"Honest John came to The Rock and studied the reports of his researchers who were mostly free-lance journal writers playing detective. He learned that so-and-so had once signed a petition. He ferreted out the fact that a certain man was known to have supported a particular drive; that this woman had lent her name to such-and-such a cause. Mr. Macro judged and accused, and such was the hysteria of the times that mere accusation was enough to make the world draw aside the hem of its garment in terror and hound the victim out of the business.
"Mr. Macro was a good man and a sincere man. Unfortunately he was also a Square. He believed he was doing his duty as a citizen. Actually, he was a child playing with a gun." - p 192
& how do you outfox a Square? In a roundabout way, of course.
""Peter and The Wolf. Written by a Russian composer named Tchaikovsky," Audibon explained patiently. "A musico-political joke."" - p 193
& if you believe that Tchaikovsky composed "Peter and the Wolf" then the joke's on you. OR imagine this as a sex description:
"The only way to describe that brawl is to name the records from the network sound library that a soundman would have to use to duplicate it. Spinning two turntables, he would blend 261B—APPLAUSE: 5TH CUT; BOOS AND SLIGHT HISSES, with 259A—RIOT CROWD EFFECTS: FRENCH CROWD, LARGE GROUP OF MEN, INCITED TO RIOT BY FRENCH COMMANDS. He might also hammer on the studio walls to get the desk-pounding effect." - p 215
Lennox, when intoxicated, has an extraordinary sense of humor for a sexist pig.
""What flavor would my hungry friend like in his toilet, Alfred?" he asked genially.
""Strawberry?" Alfred ventured.
""And strawberry it shall be."
"They plugged Audibon's toilet and filled it with strawberry gelatine. They filled the floor of his enclosed shower with lime gelatine. "The only specific for athlete's foot," Lennox insisted. They mixed a potpourri of gelatine and filled his inkstands, his Dresden china, the glasses in the bar, the hollow globe of his ceiling light, and last of all, the wash basin." - p 246
That'll teach 'im to conflate Prokofiev w/ Tchaikovsky. By the by, I tried that lime gelatine for athlete's foot & it worked wonders, my foot ran away faster than the rest of my body cd catch it so it really did become an athlete. Lennox's drunken spree is enuf to kill an elephant, even a pink elephant.
"There was an insidious brew called Fish-House Punch, composed of sugar, Jamaica rum and peach brandy in an enormous crystal bowl. Lennox had three glasses and was returning for a fourth when he saw the hostess unbutton her drop seat and bathe her bottom in the punch bowl." - p 252
& to think that was normal at parties in the '50s. At least it wasn't spiked w/ LSD or her cunt might've dilated. As it turned out, she was giving birth. & then she spanked the baby for getting into the booze. The nerve.
"Alongside him, No. 17 slept open-mouthed and filled the ward with the fetor of decay. No. 8 laughed in a baby voice. No. 20 scratched methodically with a monotonous rasp. No. 5 chanted: "The Lord is my hospital, I shall not want. He marries me to Green Packards. He leadeth me leadeth me leadeth me. . . ."" - p 294
Do younger readers know what a Packard is? Whether you do or not the rat race continues.
"Downstairs, he met Kay Hill, very slim and English in tweeds and a fisher scarf, dashing into Sabatini's for a drink. She dragged him with her. Lennox went back to the phone booth and tried for Gabby at Houseways, Inc. She was not there either. He returned to Kay at the bar.
""So they let you out of the hatch, darling," she said. "Happy, happy day. We'll pickle it."
""My God," Lennox said. Nothing's changed."" - p 300
&, so, we end our day w/ a Tequilla sunrise. ...more
Notes are private!
Sep 04, 2019
Nov 03, 2019
Paul Tabori's The Cleft
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - August 8, 2019
I've read & reviewed one other Paul Tabori bk: The Green Rain (see my review of
Paul Tabori's The Cleft
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - August 8, 2019
I've read & reviewed one other Paul Tabori bk: The Green Rain (see my review here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... ). Once again, I'm amazed at how much 'time flies' b/c 'it seems like just yesterday' when I read that but it was almost 2 yrs ago instead. My life has changed entirely too little since then. The Green Rain seemed 'a little off' — perhaps as if it were written by someone who didn't usually write SF or someone who was writing SF for the 1st time. The Cleft is even more that way. The front cover proclaims:
"A wide-open city—two turned-on players in a strange sex game—a bawdy, blistering novel of tomorrow"
Now, one expects misleading advertising copy & the above isn't THAT misleading but the cover art shows a somewhat amorphouse cluster of naked bodies that suggests orgiastic behavior. The story is about a crack opening in New York City that gets wider & bigger & more life-disruptive & threatening PLUS it's about the promiscuous sex-life of the wife of the city official whose job turns into dealing w/ the crack. Hence "wide-open city" doesn't mean a 'city where anything goes' or some such. PLUS the 'tomorrow' isn't exactly futuristic, it's a 'tomorrow' that's not necessarily that much different from the 'today' of the yr's 1969 copyright. As for the "two turned-on players"? I wdn't quite describe them that way either. Anyway, I'm not complaining, I find the ad copy funny. The back-cover blurb claims that "THE CLEFT is a science fiction novel like none other you have read. As wildly visionary as H. G. Wells, as wickedly witty as Terry Southern, Paul Tabori has concocted a devilish brew of far-out sex, fascinating science, and unbeatable suspense." That's pushing things a bit, I think. I wonder if it worked? Was it a popular bk in its day? You know how much the public loves "far-out sex" mixed w/ "fascinating science"!! I looked on the internet to find more info on The Cleft & its popularity or lack thereof & didn't find anything relevant. I did find that he was a much more prolific writer than I expected.
I generally find that it's much easier to get sucked into a novel if there's a sympathetic protagonist. That cd also be sd to be the easy route for keeping the reader involved. Tabori doesn't do that. 2 of the main characters, the Pokolis, a married couple, have little to recommend them.
"Caesar Pokoli, not to mince words, was a phony who got away with it because his malpractices and misdemeanors were on a modest scale." - p 7
The "tomorrow" of the novel is the 1980s, 'long' since this reviewer's yesteryear.
"By the eighth decade of the twentieth century New York had grown into such a huge and complex organism that its very size created seemingly insoluble problems. To get to work and get home had become a major problem. For every yard of super freeways, a dozen new cars were spewed forth by the assembly lines. Parking was a game of snakes and ladders and the city had started to tow away the tow-away trucks before the streets became choked into immobility." - p 9
Sounds like the NYC of the 1980s that I knew (except for the towing away of the tow-ers).
Marianne's married to Caeser. She randomly picks a man in the phone bk & tries to have sex w/ them. This is an everyday occurence. Sometimes she picks up info beneficial to her husband's career.
"And she called them all, without exception, Bernie. This was a fad they had to accept—she told them: "Look, I can't remember names, I don't even remember faces, I remember other, more essential things," and she demonstrated on the spot what those were. Bernie was the quintessence of all the men she picked up by the most essential instrument of modern living and, whether Bernie was tall or short, white or black, couth or uncouth, a sex master or just a so-so performer, in her wildest transports it was this name she whispered, cooed or screamed.
"She was by no means as methodical and orderly as her husband. For her ashtrays could overflow and pictures could dip at most irregular degrees. But in her hobby and life's work she did not neglect the slightest detail. And she always carried her little Polaroid camera which produced an instant picture of her lover's manhood for a collection which she kept in a safe deposit box, visiting it from time to time like a dowager inspecting the family silver or grandma's tiara. The hours she spent in the vault were among the happiest of her life." - pp 19-20
I wish I'd done that, taken pictures of every girlfriend's naked center of attn. Oh, well. They wd be such nice non-marital aids to while away my lonely hours w/. Sigh. Well, at any rate, the crack was bound to enlarge.
"You have heard of metal fatigue, or should have—even if you aren't a Nevil Shute fan. And there was the straw that broke the camel's back.
"Five million heavy trucks cross a bridge and it just groans and sways a little and holds its peace. Then the five million and first starts to rumble across—and, wham, bang, whizz, steel and concrete split and dissolve." - p 23
We're not talking beaver dams here. Not even a dental dam.
"The dam cracks at dawn, almost silent and invisible, the drops of water start oozing through the infintestimal open pores which grow bigger and bigger until, with a wrench and a roar, the millions of tons of cement topple and the flood engulfs a whole countryside." - p 23
Caesar Pokoli is in charge of the complaints dept.
"There were a few candidates for the first Complaint of the Month. Hospitals were mentioned and it was quite seriously considered, for five minutes, that people should get medical attention first and be questioned about their financial status second. City facilities were discussed, and it was suggested that something should be done about making less profit on food and drink consumed by municipal employees; but someone pointed out that after all the City paid them and could rightly expect that, in turn, the city workers spend some of their pay in places that would support free enterprise and the true American principle of damning the public and nourishing monopoly." - p 34
Pokoli isn't about to improve upon such situations but he will insure that government is at work enuf to further insure that he continues to get pd.
"Caeser's spelling was highly individual and Webster-defiant; but then, there was Miss Barbara ("Boobie") Mollison, a product of Bennington-Vassar, a white edition of Mandy in ugliness and efficiency whom Marianne had picked as her spouse's secretary. Out of Caeser's half-illterate srcibblings, out of his mumbling, stammering and stuttering words she could weave webs of perfect oratory and paragraphs of illimitable logic. Sometimes Caeser suspected that Boobie took a special delight in this and that if he had been a model of cogency, articulateness and erudtion, she would have pined away and died." - p 48
Or been put in the Boobie Hatch. Alas, w/ all the aggravations of Caeser's job he might just end in there too.
"Also, this was the proper occasion, their negotiators hinted, to establish the tweny-two hour work week, two months vacation with pay per year and retirement at forty-seven." - p 71
Sounds reasonable. Might as well add that all pleasures enjoyed by people w/ inherited wealth over 1 million dollars be made available to working & retired working people at no cost. Despite this reasonableness of the workers, the cleft problem deepens.
"["]It would be safer to take immediate steps, before your fair city splits into two and pitches most of your citizens into the sea."
""But that's utterly impossible. How can we evacuate New York? Three million people live on this island, another three million commute for work."" - p 77
This bk being the parody that it is, it just has to have the Soviets exaggerate the problem.
"Radio Moscow: SEGREGATION GONE MAD. Pluto-capitalistic America has decided on drastic measures against the rising tide of its oppressed colored masses, our Negro comrades. A beginning has been made in New York though we understand that similar plans are about to be put into effect in all the important communities of these Disunited States. All the nonwhites are going to be herded into a ghetto or concentration camp in the area known as Down Town (which is called so because the downtrodden, poor and exploited people live there in contrast to Up Town which is for the idle and domineering rich) and in order to ensure their complete segregation, a deep ditch or moat is being dug between the two unequal parts of the city." - pp 101-102
I won't give away the climax of everything that comes into the cleft but I will say that a good time wasn't had by all. ...more
Notes are private!
Jul 31, 2019
Sep 09, 2019
Mass Market Paperback
Nov 03, 2015
Nov 05, 2015
it was amazing
Kim Stanley Robinson's Green Earth
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - August 6-15, 2019
For the complete review go here: https://www.goodreads. review of
Kim Stanley Robinson's Green Earth
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - August 6-15, 2019
For the complete review go here: https://www.goodreads.com/story/show/...
In addition to thousands of bks neatly placed on shelves in my personal library I have large piles of bks elsewhere in my house awaiting some sort of processing. There's a very large literature new arrivals section, a much smaller one for SF, a smaller one for crime fiction, an even smaller one for poetry, the smallest of all for plays, multiple large piles for miscellaneous, & then small piles on my bed for read-soon. Maybe more than 500 bks just in these piles. Kim Stanley Robinson's Green Earth was in the SF pile, the largest of all the SF bks &, as such, the one least likely to be read any time soon. & then I decided to read it anyway. I'm glad I did. Perhaps ironically b/c, as the author explains in his Introduction: "my original idea had been to write a realist novel as if it were science fiction" (p xii). In other words, I picked it to read off my SF piles & it turned out to not quite be SF despite its author having already written another massive SF bk called Red Mars.
Originally, this had been a trilogy, even larger than Green Earth's 1069+ pp. I wd've been fine w/ reading the original immensity but the author decided to edit it:
"So with those above considerations in mind, I went through my text and cut various extraneous details, along with any excess verbiage I could find (and I could). Inspired by Matthiessen, who compared his middle volume to a dachsund's belly, and shortened his original 1,500 pages to 900, I compressed about 1,100 pages to about 800. Nothing important was lost in this squishing, and the new version has a better flow, as far as I can tell. Also, crucially, it now fits into this one volume, and is thereby better revealed for what it was all along, which is a single novel." - pp xii-xiii
Well, in the print version herein reviewed, that "800" pages manifests itself as almost 1,100 pp & it still "fits" & is still "a single novel". Is there an upper limit to how many pages one volume can hold? The Complete Works Lewis Carroll (Vintage Books) is a one volume 1,294 pp paperback from 43 yrs ago & it still hasn't fallen apart yet. Joseph McEllroy's Women and Men (Dalkey Archive) is a one volume 1,192+ pp paperback from 26 yrs ago & it's still holding together fine too. I cd name many other examples but I'll restrict myself to one more 'classic': Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace (Penguin Books) wch is a one volume 1,444+ pp paperback from 35 yrs ago that's still holding together. I've read them all. Where do I find the time?!
"It's a story about many things: climate change, science administration and politics, Buddhism, biotechnology and investment capital, homelessness, sociobiology, surveillance, life in Washington D.C., life in a treehouse, life with a fractious toddler. A kitchen sink makes an appearance. With that much thrown in, it should not be surprising that the story "predicted" quite a few things that have since come to pass; near-future science fiction always does that.
"Still, working on this version I was startled pretty often by such pseudo-predictions. That the storm that wrecks the East Coast was named Sandy is strange enough to be one of J. W. Dunne's examples of precognition in An Experiment With Time—in other words, a coincidence, but quite a coincidence." - p xiii
J. W. Dunne's An Experiment With Time & José M. R. Delgado's Physical Control of the Mind are 2 bks I've had on my 'too-read' list for over 40 yrs now. I still haven't read them. Seeing the Dunne mentioned in Green Earth reminds me of how much more there is for me to read before I die.
"Most disturbing, perhaps, is the way the National Security Agency's recently revealed surveillance program has confirmed and even trumped this book's spy plot. There were signs when I was writing that this kind of thing was going on, but I thought I was exaggerating it for satiric effect. Not at all. You are a person of interest, your calls are recorded, and computer programs are rating your potential danger to the system. And elections? Cross your fingers!" - p xiv
This combined edition is from 2015. The 1st section of it is from 2005. That makes Robinson at least 25 yrs behind the times as far as NSA surveillance reality is concerned. In Covert Action Information Bulletin Number 11, December, 1980, there's an article entitled "Big Brother 1980: The National Security Agency: The Biggest Eavesdropper of Them All - A CAIB Interview" Introduction by Stewart Klepper. The opening paragraph for this article states:
"Imagine this. It is 1984, and the government annouces that henceforth, because of foreign threats and growing terrorism, no sealed mail will be delivered. All mail will be scanned by computer, based primarily on the address and return address, and any mail to or from potential security risks will be read and copied. Shocking? Yet this situation already exists for almost all telegrams and phone calls coming into or going out of the U.S. The main difference is that this policy has never been announced; it was, for may years, one of the better kept secrets of our intelligence community." - CAIB 11, Dec, 1980, p 35
The article is 9pp. It goes into substantial detail. It was written 39 yrs ago. Imagine how sophisticated surveillance has become since then.
I don't have much of an opinion about Global Warming. Since belief in Global Warming is an unwritten law requirement for acceptance as a 'liberal/left-winger' & since I find any 'peer pressure' annoying, I reserve having an opinion on the subject until I feel like I'm truly knowledgable on it — wch I'm not likely to ever be. I can say that I read Michael Crichton's State of Fear, a bk that ridicules belief in Global Warming, & found it repulsively unconvincing (see my review: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15... ). Now I've read Green Earth, wch makes a strong case for believing in Global Warming, & found it very intelligent & convincing.
"The Earth is bathed in a flood of sunlight. A fierce inundation of photons—on average, 342 joules per second per square meter. 4185 joules (one Calorie) will raise the temperature of one kilogram of water by one degree C. If all this energy were captured by the Earth's atmosphere, its temperature would rise by ten degrees C in one day.
"Luckily much of it radiates back to space. How much depends on albedo and the chemical composition of the atmosphere, both of which vary over time.
"A good portion of Earth's albedo, or reflectivity, is created by its polar ice caps. If polar ice and snow were to shrink significantly, more solar energy would stay on Earth. Sunlight would penetrate oceans previously covered by ice, and warm the water. This would add heat and melt more ice, in a positive feedback loop." - p 3
A contingent of Buddhists moves near a contigent of scientists.
""Yes," Anna said. "I saw your arrival ceremony, and I was wondering where you all come from."
""Thank you for your interest," the youth said politely, ducking his head and smiling. "We are from Khembalung."
""Yes, but . . ."
""Ah. Our country is an island nation, in the Bay of Bengal, near the mouth of the Ganges."
""I see," Anna said, surprised; she had thought they would be from somewhere in the Himalayas. "I hadn't heard of it."
""It is not a big island. Nation status has been a recent development, you could say. Only now are we establishing a representation."
""Good idea. Although, to tell the truth, I'm surprised to see an embassy in here. I didn't think of this as being the right kind of space."
""We chose it very carefully," the young monk said." - p 8
"He got up stiffly. It was midafternoon already. If he left soon he would be able to hack through the traffic out to Great Falls. By then the day's heat would have subsided, and the gorge walls would be nearly empty. He could climb till sunset, and do some more thinking about this algorithm, in the only place in the D.C. area left with a touch of nature to it." - p 18
One of the reasons why I find Green Earth so convincing as an ecological narative is b/c I grew up in Baltimore, a mere 10 hr jog from the small town where I lived from ages 3 to 22 to the Great Falls Park wch I don't recall ever hearing of until I read this bk — & Robinson's descriptions of the environment are so familiar that I can immediately relate. Can't you just imagine my firm fit body in tight spandex running gear covered w/ ads for the products that've made it so that a 10 hr jog doesn't even make me out of breath? Can't you imagine that spandex tight around my erect.. Oh, well, what I'm getting at here is that I hope to meet you, woman review reader, at Great Falls Park someday soon where we'll fall madly in love w/ each other even though I don't really, uh, match the description I've just written.
"At Great Falls, the Potomac River builds up speed and force as it falls over a series of steep, jagged rocks and flows through the narrow Mather Gorge. The Patowmack Canal offers a glimpse into the early history of this country. Great Falls Park has many opportunities to explore history and nature, all in a beautiful 800-acre park only 15 miles from the Nation's Capital." - https://www.nps.gov/grfa/index.htm
What can I say? (As my firned Lizard always sd) It's not just the environment being so familiar, it's things like the following:
"The invention of set theory, and the finessing of the various paradoxes engendered by considering sets as members of themselves. The discovery of the incompletability of all systems." - p 19
Ok, that's where I live (not really). I've written a math humor bk called Paradigm Shift Knuckle Sandwich & other examples of P.N.T. (Perverse Number Theory). There're movies of me reading from it online:
484. "Is this a Black Theorem?"
- shot at tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE's launch of his book entitled "Paradigm Shift Knuckle Sandwich & other examples of P.N.T. (Perverse Number Theory)" at the Glitter Box Theater in Pittsburgh on April 1, 2017E.V.
- shot using 2 mini-dv camcorders & 1 iJones
- edit finished April 10, 2017E.V.
- 1700X1275 (4/3)
- on my onesownthoughts YouTube channel here: https://youtu.be/gw48jIh0oS4
480. ""Paradigm Shift Knuckle Sandwich" Reading at Té Café"
- tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE reading from his 'pataphysics / math / humor / cognitive dissidence book at the Open Poetry/Prose Mic night on Wednesday, March 8, 2017
- landscape camcorder: Jonathan Wayne, portrait camcorder: Marc V. Rock-Steady
- 1700X1275 (4/3)
- edit finished March 10, 2017
- on my onesownthoughts YouTube channel here: https://youtu.be/pWiuslygsWo
If you're a Moslem, forget about facing Mecca X-number of times a day to pray to Allah. Read my math bk instead. If you have to learn English to do it, so be it. If you feel motivated to translate it into Arabic or any other language please just do a good job. There are some subtle ideas in there that it's very important be understood w/ utter clarity. You owe it to the memory of Avicenna.
My point is, set theory is extremely important to me, so are Gödel's Incompleteness Theorems — even though I admit to having not even an amateur mathematician's understanding of them. Just read my bk, you don't have to understand that either.
Robinson's not exaggerating when he states that "It's a story about many things: climate change, science administration and politics, Buddhism, biotechnology and investment capital, homelessness, scoiobiology, surveillance, life in Washington D.C., life in a treehouse, life with a fractious toddler". If you're not interested in one or more of those topics, never fear, Robinson's writing about the rest of them is wonderful.
"Indeed, one method of inserting the altered DNA into the body was to put it into a virus and give the patient a viral infection, benign in its ultimate effects because the altered DNA reached its target. But since the body fought viral infections, it was not a good solution. You didn't want to compromise further the immune systems of people who were already sick.
"So, for a long time now they had been the same as everyone else chasing the holy grail of gene therapy, a "targeted nonviral delivery system."" - p 26
Or, at least, that's what they were doing before I came along & convinced them that Herpes was the best medium & that my penis was the best insertion device. The drawback being that I only came to the assistance of women I found attractive. Sorry, guys, but as I like to say: "I hate women.. but I hate men even more."
Not only can I feel deeply connected to this story b/c the environment described is a very familiar one, b/c the mathematics are important to me — but also b/c Robinson mentioned Second Story Books fairly often. I worked for Second Story from 1984 to 1988. Of course, if Robinson had been really on top of the crème de la crème he wd've had to fit NORMAL'S in there somewhere. NORMAL'S is the bkstore I cofounded 1989 w/ other ex-Second Story people.
"He stopped in at Second Story Books, the biggest and best of the area's several used bookstores. It was a matter of habit only; he had visited it so often with Joe asleep on his back that he had memorized the stock, and was reduced to checking the hidden books in the inner rows, or alphabetizing sections that he liked. No one in the supremely arrogant and slovenly shop cared what he did there. It was soothing in that sense." - p 43
For the complete review go here: https://www.goodreads.com/story/show/... ...more
Notes are private!
Jun 23, 2019
Aug 15, 2019
Jun 26, 2013
really liked it
Joseph Conrad's Chance
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - February 7-8, 2019
For the complete review go here: https://www.goodreads.com/story/s review of
Joseph Conrad's Chance
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - February 7-8, 2019
For the complete review go here: https://www.goodreads.com/story/show/...
Despite my knowing about Joseph Conrad for 40 or 50 yrs, despite my having seen at least 4 movies based on his stories, Lord Jim (1965), Apocalypse Now (1979) (based on Heart of Darkness), Heart of Darkness (1993), & The Secret Agent (1996); & despite my thinking of Conrad as a rugged individualist writer of note along w/ Jack London, I haven't read anything by him until now w/ Chance. What a weird place to start. This is the 9th of his novels & novellas, out of a total of 15 — w/ the last unfinished.
It was 1st serialized in 1912 & published as a bk in 1913. Not having read anything else by him it's a bit hard for me to place it. In other words, I don't know if he was trying to strike off in a more experimental style or what?! It seems that that might be the case. I'm often annoyed by stories in wch the main narrative is the recitation of a story found told in a ms, or something weird that's written off as a dream at the end. These devices seem to cheat the reader of total immersion in the fantasy w/o serving any purpose of awakening the reader to critical reading.
In this case, the main narrator, the 1st-person narrator, recounts what his friend tells him about what other people have told him, etc, etc. It's almost like in-depth gossip more than it is a narrative that one can suspend disbelief in. That made it particularly hard for me to enjoy it as a novel. Making matters even stranger is that the 2nd narrator, Marlow, the one who tells the bulk of his story by quoting others who quote others, frequently propounds a somewhat misogynistic philosophy wch the main 1st person narrator occasionally sees fit to scoff at.
Marlow & his 1st person friend, both sailors, are eating at a shoreside restaurant where they spot another man, Powell, who they recognize as a kindred spirit & strike up an acquaintance w/.
""If we at sea," he declared, "went about our work as people ashore high and low go about theirs we should never make a living. No one would employ us. And moreover no ship navigated and sailed in the happy-go-lucky manner people conduct ther business on shore would ever arrive into port."" - p 1
That cd be taken as an argument in favor of living on the land where there's less stress revolving around discipline for survival.
Powell recounts his 1st posting as a 2nd Mate on the ship that Roderick Anthony skippers. Anthony becomes a central character that the narrative dances around in an elliptical way. In the meantime, Powell risk falling prey to some denizens of the dockside.
"A dock policeman strode into the light on the other side of the gate, very broad-chested and stern.
""Hallo! What's up here?"
""He was really surprised, but after some palaver he let me in together with the two loafers carrying my luggage. He grumbled at them however and slammed the gate violently with a loud clang. I was startled to discover how many night prowlers had collected in the darkness of the street in such a short time and without my being aware of it. Directly they were through they came surging against the bars, silent, like a mob of ungly spectres. But suddenly, up the street somewhere, perhaps near that public-house, a row started as if Bedlam had broken loose: shouts, yells, an awful shrill shriek—and at that noise all these heads vanished from behind the bars.
""Look at this," marvelled the constable. "It's a wonder to me that they didn't make off with your things while you were waiting."
""I would've taken good care of that," I said defiantly. But the constable wasn't impressed.
""Much you would have done. The bag going off round one dark corner; the chest round another. Would you have run two ways at once? And anyhow you'd have been tripped up and jumped upon before you had run three yards. I tell you you've had a most extraordinary chance that there wasn't one of them regular boys about to-night, in the High Street, to twig your loaded cab go by. Ted here is honest . . . You are the honest lay, Ted, ain't you?" " - p 14
The constable's observations seem wise & educational.
Narrator #1 comments that "Later on I asked Marlow why he wished to cultivate this chance acquaintance. He confessed apologetically that it was the commonest sort of curiosity. I flatter myself that I understand all sorts of curiosity. Curiosity about daily facts, about daily things, about daily men. It is the most respectable faculty of the human mind—in fact I cannot conceive the uses of an incurious mind. It would be like a chamber perpetually locked up." (p 22) Indeed. But I wonder how many incurious minds there are out there today in this age of readily available information — are people reacting by withdrawing into incuriosity?
Perhaps the central character of this story is Flora de Barral, a character rarely heard from 'directly' in this labyrinth of nested narratives. Flora has disappeared from the hospitality of the Fynes after having been recently witnessed to be on the brink of suicide by Marlow. Here's Marlow's 1st-person acct of how to begin searching for her:
"But I really wanted to help poor Fyne; and as I could see that, manlike, he suffered from the present inability to act, the passive waiting, I said: "Nothing of this can be done till to-morrow. But as you have given me an insight into the nature of your thoughts I can tell you what may be done at once. We may go and look at the bottom of the old quarry which is on the level of the road, about a mile from here."" - p 28
At this point, I wasn't really sure where this was all going: was the story about the experiences of the 1st narrator? of Marlow? of Powell? of the Fynes? of Flora de Barral? of all of them intertwined? It was somewhat difficult for me to pick thru these threads & to see a strong direction forming, all sorts of possibilities seemed inherent. Perhaps that was Conrad's intention, to have the tale form as the clues accumulated. That's not, of course, an unusual strategy in & of itself, but the way in wch casual encounters accumulated to form a drama was made unusual for me by the almost complete absence of an omniscient perspective. More confusingly, it began to appear to be some sort of male speculation on the nature of women. Marlow:
"I asked Mrs. Fyne if she did not think it was a sort of duty to show elementary consideration not only for the natural feelings but even for the prejudices of one's fellow-creatures.
"Her answer knocked me over.
""Not for a woman."
"Just like that. I confess that I went down flat. And while in that collapsed state I learned the true nature of Mrs. Fyne's feminist doctrine. It was not political, it was not social. It was a knock-me-down doctrine—a practical individualistic doctrine. You would not thank me for expounding it to you at large. Indeed I think she herself did not enlighten me fully. There must have been things not fit for a man to hear. But shortly, and as far as my bewilderment allowed me to grasp its naïve atrociousness, it was something like this: that no consideration, no delicacy, no tenderness, no scruples should stand in the way of a woman (who by the mere fact of her sex was the predestined victim of conditions created by man's selfish passions, their vices and their abominable tyranny) from taking the shortest cut towards securing for herself the easiest possible existence." - p 32
The irony of this being that she later falsely accuses Flora of doing just that — something Mrs. Fyne finds unacceptable b/c the man involved is her brother. It's this sort of thing that perhaps distinguishes Conrad's novel as a 'psychological' one, one in wch people play out their lives in a complex of conflicting emotions & philosophies that they're never completely aware of.
"But Mrs. Fyne's individualist woman-doctrine, naïvely unscrupulous, flitted through my mind. The salad of unprincipled notions she put into these girl-friends' heads! Good innocent creature, worthy wife, excellent mother (of the strict governess type), she was as guileless of consequences as any determinist philosopher ever was."
""Do you expect me to agree to all this?" I interrupted." - p 34
"Like her husband she too had published a little book. Much later on I came upon it. It had nothing to do with pedestrianism. It was a sort of hand-book for women with grievances (and all women had them), a sort of compendious theory and practice of feminine free morality. It made you laugh at its transparent simplicity." - p 36
One of the things that interests me about this is the use of the word "feminism" in 1912. When I think of feminism I tend to think of a movement starting around 1970. I tend to think of early 20th century feminists as sufragettes. Instead, I'm surprised to learn that the term is credited w/ having originated w/ 'my old friend' Charles Fourier. I have a Fourier archibras tattooed on my lower back.
"The term “feminism” originated from the French word “feminisme,” coined by the utopian socialist Charles Fourier, and was first used in English in the 1890s, in association with the movement for equal political and legal rights for women." - http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/e...
The narrative's meandering takes us to a new phase, the collapse of the financial empire of Flora's father, something that considerably predates the time at wch the reader meets Flora "Smith" by way of Marlow by way of Narrator 1.
"Its consort The Sceptre collapsed within a week. I won't say in American parlance that suddenly the bottom fell out of the whole de Barral concerns. There never had been any bottom to it. It was like the cask of Danaides into which the public had been pleased to pour its deposits. That they were gone was clear; and the bankruptcy proceedings which followed were like a sinister farce, bursts of laughter in a setting of mute anguish—that of the depositors; hundreds of thousands of them. The laughter was irresistible; the accompaniment of the bankrupt's public examination." - p 44
""I call a woman sincere," Marlow began again after giving me a cigar and lighting one himself, "I call a woman sincere when she volunteers a statement resembling remotely in form what she really would like to say, what she really thinks ought to be said if it were not for the necessity to spare the stupid sensitiveness of men. The women's rougher, simpler, more upright judgment, embraces the whole truth, which their tact, their mistrust of maculine idealism, ever prevents them from speaking in its entirety. And their tact is unerring. We could not stand women speaking the truth. We could not bear it. It would cause infinite misery and bring about most awful disturbances in this rather mediocre, but still idealistic fool's paradise in which most of us lives his own little life—the unit in the great sum of existence. And they know it. They are merciful." - p 78
I don't perceive Marlow as speaking as an avatar for the writer. The 1st narrator seems to be more that & he says very little about himself. The character of Marlow seems to be being used as an affable but highly opinionated observer. How many people, men or women, wd agree w/ his descriptions above? It almost stands on its head sterotypes about the sexes: men are presented as "sensitive", people to keep the truth from, & women are presented as rough. I think most people, men & women, don't often speak everything that's on their mind in order to avoid conflict w/ others. Not many men, e.g., wd openly speak about a 'good rack' when around women as easily as they wd around other men. "The women's rougher, simpler, more upright judgment, embraces the whole truth, which their tact, their mistrust of maculine idealism, ever prevents them from speaking in its entirety. And their tact is unerring." Their tact? I've certainly had plenty of women say ridiculously hateful things to me that were tactless. I don't think anyone "embraces the whole truth" — how can we? We're not omniscient beings for one thing. For another, people construct their personal world views according to personal needs. Marlow continues about women. Perhaps as a sailor he's spent too little time around them to have a well-rounded perspective.
"["]For myself, it's towards women that I feel vindictive mostly, in my small way. I admit that it is small. But then the occasions in themselves are not great. Mainly I resent that pretense of winding us round their dear little fingers, as of right. Not that the result ever amounts to much generally. There are so few momentous opportunities. It is the assumption that each of us is a combination of a kid and an imbecile which I find provoking—in a small way; in a very small way. You needn't stare as though I were breathing fire and smoke out of my nostrils. I am not a woman-devouring monster. I am not even what is technically called "a brute."["]" - p 82
Then again, his resentment of "that pretense of winding us round their dear little fingers" seems fair enuf to me. I've always maintained that the physically weaker creature will develop means of pscyhological manipulation. Marlow's slightly misogynistic positioning is found to be at odds w/ Mrs. Fyne's ostensibly feminist one not b/c he's attacking women & she's defending them but b/c she's attacking a specific woman in a way that Marlow finds indefensible. Hence, the complexity of the novel.
"I interrupted Mrs. Fyne here. I had heard. Fyne was not very communicative in general, but he was proud of his father-in-law—"Carleon Anthony, the poet, you know." Proud of his celebrity without approving of his character. It was on that account, I strongly suspect, that he seized with avidity upon the theory of poetical genius being allied to madness, which he got hold of in some idiotic book everybody was reading a few years ago." - p 100
This recurring satirical trope of "Carleon Anthony, the poet, you know." seems so pointed that I have to wonder whether Conrad was basing it on an actual public figure.
What do YOU think of the idea of "genius being allied to madness"? I don't think that all 'madness' is anything remotely close to what I, personally, might consider to be 'genius'. On the other hand I think that there have been & are now plenty of people that I might consider to be geniuses who the general public wd've relegated to being 'mad' simply b/c they were too stupid to understand the person.
Marlow eventually concludes that Mrs. Fyne's hostility to Flora was simply a cunning act.
"And musing thus on the general inclination of our instincts toward injustice I met unexpectedly, at the turn of the road, as it were, a shape of duplicity. It might have been unconscious on Mrs. Fyne's part, but her leading idea appeared to me to be not to keep, not to preserve her brother, but to get rid of him definitely. She did not hope to stop anything. She had too much sense for that. Almost anyone out of an idiot asylum would have had enough sense for that. She wanted the protest to be made, emphatically, with Fyne's fullest concurrence in order to make all intercourse for the future impossible. Such an action would estrange the pair forever from the Fynes. She understood her brother and the girl too. Happy together, they would never forgive that outspoken hostility—and should the marriage turn out badly . . . Well, it would be just the same. Neither of them would be likely to bring their troubles to such a good prophet of evil." - p 105
Of course, Marlow's reading of the situation isn't necessarily correct. Conrad shows us his biases. What if Mrs. Fyne simply cdn't stand it when people did things w/o her matriarchical pre-approval?
The father de Barral has been in prison for banking malfeasance. His release from prison marks even more malignance into Flora's life than she's already had to suffer thru. Marlow muses further on prisons.
"Prisons are wonderful contrivances. Shut—open. Very neat. Shut—open. And out comes some sort of corpse, to wander awfully in a world in which it has no possible connections and carrying with it the appalling tainted atmosphere of its silent abode. Marvellous arrangement. It works automatically, and when you look at it, the perfection makes you sick; which for a mere mechanism is no mean triumph. Sick and scared." - p 135
The end of Part I of this puzzling collection of accumulated fragments of nested narratives ends along these lines: "We also looked at each other, he rather angrily, I fancy, and I with wonder. I may also mention that it was for the last time. From that day I never set eyes on the Fynes. As usual the unexpected happened to me. It had nothing to do woth Flora de Barral. The fact is that I went away." - p 139
Part II is a recontruction of the events surrounding Flora & her new husband Captain Anthony, the brother of Mrs. Fyne, on board the captain's ship. Unfortunately, they're joined by Flora's father, fresh out of prison & hell-bent on poisoning the marriage of his daughter. Powell is the main teller here, as filtered thru Marlow.
""Mr. Franklin," said the captain, "we have been more than six years together, it is true, but I didn't know you for a reader of faces. You are not a correct reader though. It's very far from being wrong. You understand? As far from being wrong as it can very well be. It ought to teach you not to make rash surmises. You should leave that to the shore people. They are great hands at spying out something that's wrong. I dare say they know what they have made of the world. A dam' poor job of it and that's plain. It's a confoundedly ugly place, Mr. Franklin. You don't know anything of it? Well—no, we sailors don't. Only now and then one of us runs against something cruel or underhand, enough to make your hair stand on end. And when you do see a piece of their wickedness you find that to set it right is not as easy as it looks . . . Oh! I called you back to tell you that there will be a whole lot of workmen, joiners and all that sent down on board first thing tomorrow morning to start making alterations in the cabin. You will see to it that they don't loaf. There isn't much time.""
"Franklin was impressed by this unexpected lecture upon the wickedness of the solid world surrounded by the salt, uncorruptible waters on which he and his captain had dwelt all their lives in happy innocence." - p 148
Powell recounts how Franklin, the mate, laments Captain Anthony's changed personality now that his new wife & her father are aboard.
"["]he thought I would suit him very well—we two, and thirty-one days out at sea, and it's no good! It's like talking to a man standing on shore. I can't get him back. I can't get at him. I feel sometimes as if I must shake him by the arm: "Wake up! You are wanted, sir . . . !"
"Young Powell recognized the expression of a true sentiment, a thing so rare in this world where there are so many mutes and so many excellent reasons even at sea for an articulate man not to give himself away, that he felt something like respect for this outburst." - p 164
For the complete review go here: https://www.goodreads.com/story/show/... ...more
Notes are private!
Feb 02, 2019
Feb 08, 2019
Apr 21, 1999
Ed Wood, Jr.'s Death of a Transvestite
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - January 25-26, 2019
WARNING: SOME QUOTES FROM THIS BOOK ARE EXPLICITL review of
Ed Wood, Jr.'s Death of a Transvestite
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - January 25-26, 2019
WARNING: SOME QUOTES FROM THIS BOOK ARE EXPLICITLY VIOLENT IN WAYS THAT MIGHT BE TRAUMATIZING TO UNWORLDLY PEOPLE.
This is the sequel to Wood's Killer in Drag ( https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... ). The main character is a hit-(wo)man who dresses in drag both for the pleasure of it & for the surprise element in the killings. His/her name is Glen/da, as in Wood's movie Glen or Glenda. In Killer in Drag, Glen/da has tried to retire from the killer business but the police are after her/him for a murder s/he didn't commit. Death of a Transvestite begins w/ Glen/da on Death Row a few hrs before the impending execution. Glen/da asks for clothes to enable his/her death to happen in drag. In exchange, Glen/da offers to tell the hitherto hidden story of the fleeing & other circumstances that've climaxed in the eventual arrest & trial. The bk provides different POV (Point-Of-View) narratives that piece the whole story together — including that of the hit transvestite sent by the syndicate after Glen/da. There's not really any attempt to make these narratives in plausible voicings but I didn't find that this lack of realism effected the plot flow much — it was more of a glaring writing error. As w/ Wood's movies, suspension of disbelief isn't likely, but, unlike w/ Wood's films, it's not as distracting.
"We entered Glen Marker's cell, a bleak, cold arrangement of bars and solid cement, at seven-thirty p.m. It wasn't a pleasure visit, and even as we entered the cell Glen could be seen visibly shaken by the finality of our presence.
"The same situation hadn't happened in several years—that a man was to be executed in the State electric chair in our eastern city." - p 7
""A year ago I was so shot up it was a miracle anybody could put me back together again. All that patching just so I'd live to see the inside of your little green room. Wouldn't it have been better, and less expensive, to let me pass out of the scene while I was blacked out and going fast? All these doctors, the hospitals, the cops and courts, the extradition across the country . . . seems to me everything could have been so much more simple the other way."" - p 8
That got me to wondering: Are Execution Chambers generally green? I imagine a pale green. I found a picture online of one in Louisiana & it's off-white. I cd make a joke about offing whites but I won't. Instead, I'll ask: Are they following Rudolph Steiner's color symbolism? According to one website:
"‘Image of Life’ (Nature Plant Life). The Color of ‘Perfect Repose’. It’s effect is healing both for the mind and body. Green is the polar opposites neutralized. It neither advances nor retreats. In its blackened, negative form Green connotes extreme lethargy – an almost pathological stasis. Envy – jealousy." - http://www.baliartclasses.com/rudolf-...
""Is it true, after I'm strapped in and hooded—the second before you pull the switch— one of your men will smash my testicles?"" - p 9
Of course not, silly. After you're cooked the testicles are removed & flown by the fastest possible method to a secret meeting of shadow government people where they're eaten as dessert along w/ other similar delicacies. After they say Grace.
This & Killer in Drag are NOT Happy Ending bks. Lighten up, Ed.
"["]The foremost thought in any honest transvestite's mind is to die in female attire."
"My eyes flashed to the guards then back to Glen as he continued. "And to be buried in such clothes. That's my last request, Warden.["]" - p 14
Was Ed Wood, Jr. cremated in drag?
"We take exceptional notice of the fact that, on the tape, when Glen talks of Glenda he speaks of her in second person, but when he refers to Glen it is always with the first person I." - p 17
Wd Glen/da have survived in today's pronoun-obsessed world?
The majority of the novel is a 'reconstruction' along the lines of a flashback.
We all know about Mac & Cheese. How wd you feel if you went to your favorite bar only to learn that you cd no longer order Mac & Cheese there?
"So" [Cheese] "& Mac were dead. Glenda had been a Syndicate killer, but she held respect for the real law enforcement officers—after all, they had a job to do the same as Glenda did her job. But when a cop turned rotten, it turned her stomach." [Cheese] "and Mac were rotten to the core. Let them rot in hell. The world was better off without them... the bastards! Let them rot in HELL! Yet they'd probably go down in history as heroes, and be buried with all policemen's honors. And the ever-lovin' taxpayers would undoubtedly get stuck with paying somebody a persion for them for life. It's always happened that way. An honest guy gets kicked in the teeth and a rat gets fat. Glenda vowed to herself that she would write a letter, anonymous of course, divulging their true characters." - p 26
Glen/da starts hallucinating Mac & Cheese in pink satin panties, Mac & Cheese w/ a nightie on, Mac & Cheese w/ falsies. No wonder the bar stopped selling it, for some people it's worse than absinthe. After all, a Rose is a Rose is a prostitute named Red remembering sex w/ Glen/da, 2 professionals clinching the deal.
"His tongue found her breasts. One nipple then the other, back and forth with the suction of a windshield wiper in a heavy rainstorm. His tongue, his ever-pleasing hot tongue, found her navel. then the inside of her thighs. It was too much... this one really knew what he was doing." - p 35
I wonder where the rest of Glen/da's body was while her/his tongue was on its exploratory mission. If Glen/da doesn't watch out that tongue's going to become irretrievably lost in the dark interior. Imagine this scene done by Svankmajer. Ah, Rose, poor sweet Rose. Of course that maniac Ed Wood, Jr., has to kill her off in a horrible way. I can see the following scene in a film noir. Wood wood've never pulled it off.
""Did he say where he was going?"
"Barbara forced a smile as she turned back to face Rose. "Where was it?"" - p 42
The audience knows that Rose & Glen/da are going to be betrayed to the syndicate but Rose doesn't know. They stare transfixed in horror & dismay. The black & white is so sharp, the lighting so dramatic. Get out of there Rose! But she doesn't. & then the film goes color, blood RED.
"The red outfit—her red outfit. It could hasten all his plans. He didn't like Hollywood. He didn't like anything about it: the complete hassle to get out of the airport area; the stupid, even crazy drivers on the freeways; the accidents he witnessed even in his short duration on them. At least on the tollways in New York, the people had to stop their cars every so often to pay the toll fees. It kept them in line, kept their speed down. But that Sepulveda Freeway which eventually led to the Hollywood Freeway—that was too much!" - p 47
Isn't it bad enough that those corrupt contractors are always pretending to be working on those speedways when they're not really?! Do we also have to have toll roads just b/c the hit men have pet peeves?! The killer walked on down the hall.. & stamped his darling little high-heeled foot & demanded that something be done about those freeways!
The narrative's constructed as if from a variety of sources but little or no attempt is made to have the voices of these sources be realistic. Hence, "GLEN MARKER'S CONFESSION—TAPE" doesn't really seem like someone talking about their life in a Death Row cell shortly before they're executed. It's too literary, there's nothing speech-like about it:
"I turned my road-stained convertible onto the Hollywood Freeway as I criss-crossed off the San Bernardino Freeway. A long time before, early that morning just outside of Las Vegas, Nevada, Glenda had shed her white angora sweater and the blue velvet skirt for my brown suit, white shirt and brown tie.
"The Los Angeles green-gray smog with its light rotten-egg smell gtreeted my sense of smell just after I had left San Bernardino, and by the time I reached Pomona it had further become an eye-stinging mess. A sudden spring heat-wave mixed with the fact of practically no rain and not the slightest breeze, kept the lung-choking smog in thick clouds." - p 50
Still, as I noted earlier, this lack of versimilitude didn't really bother me, the story still moves along.
The 2nd killer-in-drag, the one sent by the Syndicate to find & kill Glen/da, has their early homicidal history disclosed in ostensible diary form:
"However, as he raped this unconscious girl, something did pierce his skin. It was a feeling, a strange sensation which he paused in his action to analyse. Then he knew what it was. The girl wore a fuzzy, brushed wool sweater which was buttoned up the front. It seemed to move against his skin with a sexual stimulation he had never experienced before. To be sure, very sure, he let his hands slowly caress the softness of the garment to the point where her breasts stretched the wool so invitingly. Then he was sure. The electricity of the sensation shot through to his groin. He could hardly contain himself as his nervous, shaking hands unbuttoned the fur-like sweater and took it from her body. Just as shakily he put it slowly onto his own body and the ecstasy of the moment as he buttoned it up caught a craving within him so intense he nearly exploded before he could get back with the girl and complete his climax the way he always had before. She died with her throat cut, but it was the start of a collection for the Killer." - p 60
Meanwhile, back at the ranch dressing, Glen has gone to the home of a woman for sex. When she discovers that he has on women's underclothing she concludes that he's gay & gets frustrated by having her sexual fantasy go awry:
"She waved her hands in frustration as she walked back to her bar and poured another straight shot. "All night I thought about you. I've had it with guys like last night. I sure expected something out of you." She laughed. "And there you stand in your panties. Man oh man, am I about ready for the rubber room at the happy farm!"" - p 116
That, too, is presented as from the CONFESSION TAPE. The equally implausible language of the continuation of this is credited to the woman he then has sex w/:
"L.A. POLICE INTERVIEW #999—CYNTHIA HARLAND
"Glenda reached up to pull her head down again, but the kiss was short-lived. Cynthia put her arm around Glenda's waist and led her into the bedroom where, a moment later, she had adjusted a blonde wig to Glenda's head then stood back breathing in eager anticipation.
"No matter what Glenda looked like in drag, she was strong." - p 121
Back to Glen's POV:
"The girl weaved slowly on the bed like a snake in heat, with little moaning sounds coming from her lips. They were both tired from the first jousting, but not so tired that the sensations of renewed life were not forthcoming." - p 124
I'm particularly fond of the phrase "The girl weaved slowly on the bed like a snake in heat".
"When a female snake is ready to mate, she begins to release a special scent (pheromones) from skin glands on her back. As she goes about her daily routine, she leaves an odor trail as she pushes off resistance points on the ground (See Getting Around). If a sexually mature male catches her scent, he will follow her trail until he finds her. The male snake begins to court the female by bumping his chin on the back of her head and crawling over her. When she is willing, she raises her tail. At that point, he wraps his tail around hers so the bottoms of their tails meet at the cloaca -- the exit point for waste and reproductive fluid. The male inserts his two sex organs, the hemipenes, which then extend and release sperm. Snake sex usually takes under an hour, but it can last as long as a whole day." - https://animals.howstuffworks.com/sna...
It's probably realistic to say that Glen/da followed Cynthia's snake-like pheremone trail to her home.
This bk was originally published in 1967. I don't know how much earlier than that it was written. Wood's still referring to countercultural people as "beatniks" so, apparently, the word "hippie" hadn't caught on for him yet.
"Dirty clothes. Long hair. Sweaters that even the Salvation Army wouldn't accept."
""This LSD craze is going to cause us a lot of trouble. It's going to put a lot of those kids in the cemetery."" - p 128
"["]There is much more to it than a few pushers trying to get the kids hooked. Most of those kids don't have the cash for their espresso, let alone lay out the kind of cash the stuff costs."" - p 129
Squaresville, Daddio. I wdn't describe anyone selling LSD as a "pusher". Also, LSD was very cheap back in the day. I have no idea what it costs now. Prices get inflated when legal penalties become Draconian & people dealing LSD are taking ridiculous risks of long-term imprisonment for promoting consciousness expansion. Anyone in prison for selling LSD shd be released immediately & given a pension.
A subplot of Death of a Transvestite is that the Sunset Strip is being infiltrated by LSD-fueled riot-hungry beatniks. Here's the 'police perspective':
""You have a sap?"
""Lined in along the back of my belt."
""Get it clear. Put it in your side pocket where you can get at it mighty damned quick. You might have to crack some skulls before they can crack yours." His eyes narrowed as he looked across the street to another bunch who were ambling around the corner of Laurel Canyon to enter upon the Sunset Strip. "Those are pros. They know what it's all about. When things start it's not going to be easy." Terry looked ahead to the almost bumper to bumper traffic. "Another smart move. They're moving in the heavy line of defense; the vehicle traffic, bumper to bumper so out boys can't get their squad cars through in a hurry."" - p 149
I'd call that a rather paranoid perspective.
I think that the 2 Wood novels I've read so far have 'their place in literary history' — by wch I mean that they have enuf distinguishing characteristics to make them not utter pot-boilers. I wdn't really recommend them but I wdn't write them off either. He's reputed to've written "at least 80 lurid crime and sex novels in addition to hundreds of short stories and non-fiction pieces for magazines and daily newspapers. Thirty-two stories known to be written by Wood (he sometimes wrote under pseudonyms such as "Ann Gora" and "Dr. T.K. Peters") are collected in Blood Splatters Quickly, published by OR Books in 2014." ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ed_Wood... ) I'd be interested in a collection of everything he wrote for magazines and newspapers — esp anything that gets away from his drag obsession. I've got nothing against drag but other people's obsessions aren't nearly as fun for the reader (at least not for me) as they are for the obsessed person writing them. ...more
Notes are private!
Jan 23, 2019
Jan 26, 2019
Mass Market Paperback
Jun 02, 1999
Ed Wood, Jr.'s Killer in Drag
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - January 24, 2019
I've never really shared the tendency of people to love Ed Wo review of
Ed Wood, Jr.'s Killer in Drag
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - January 24, 2019
I've never really shared the tendency of people to love Ed Wood as 'the worst filmmaker in the world'. I've never found Plan 9 from Outer Space enjoyable even as camp. I liked Glen or Glenda partially because it's such an odd mixture of materials but the soundtrack, at least in the version I witnessed, is garbled to the point of being unintelligible in parts. I've witnessed Jail Bait but I don't even remember that one. Tim Burton's Ed Wood fueled my appreciation for him but I still never liked the movies much. I've even seen some of the soft porn. I can relate to the work as wacky low-budget stuff but, well, it's too bad he wasn't alive in the era of affordable video production, maybe he cd've pulled it off better now.
ANYWAY, I got a copy of Killer in Drag 1st, wondering if I might like his novels more, & then a copy of Death of a Transvestite. I started reading the latter 1st but when I realized that it was the sequel to the former I switched to that being 1st. I didn't have high expectations. As it turned out, I've found the novels to be much more competently created than the movies. Comparisons to Jim Thompson might be in order. Both of these novels turned into one movie made w/ a reasonable budget wd even stand a chance of being popular. I wdn't want to do it but I'm sure there're plenty out there who wd. What about Todd Haynes?
The thing is, this novel is GRIM. Almost unbearably so (for this reader). I've always had the impression that as a filmmaker Wood was probably fun to work w/. Wood's 'career' as a director started transforming from attempts at 'mainstream' work to more pornographic material in the 1960s. Killer in Drag was 1st published in 1965. It's easy to imagine it being written by a bitter alcoholic frustrated by his 'lack of success' in movies. The drag details are obviously autobiographical, esp the emphasis on hetero-drag.
"He picked up the gun affectionately and slipped it smoothly into the pocket of the garment he was wearing. That garment was a fluffy, floor length, pink marabou negligee. Calmly, then, he made his way to the bedroom.
"Mona, beautiful blonde Mona, sat on the edge of a rumpled king-sized bed waiting for him. She wore only a filmy nylon bed jacket which left nothing underneath to the imagination. Her eyes watched every move Glen made as he walked to a vanity table and removed his marabou negligee revealing beneath a pink satin, black lace trimmed nightgown." - p 8
People familiar w/ Wood know that he loved dressing in drag &, in particular, wearing angora sweaters. "In Wood's 1992 biography Nightmare of Ecstasy: The Life and Art of Edward D. Wood Jr., Wood's wife Kathy recalls that Wood told her that his mother dressed him in girls' clothing as a child. Kathy stated that Wood's transvestism was not a sexual inclination, but rather a neomaternal comfort derived mainly from angora fabric (angora is featured in many of Wood's films). Even in his later years, Wood was not shy about going out in public dressed in drag as Shirley, his female alter ego (who also appeared in many of his screenplays and stories)." ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ed_Wood... ) I've dressed in drag but never w/ the intention of being seen as a woman. Check out "Gender Fuck Party (closet film)" (1980, Ricki DellAmerica - https://youtu.be/sXQ_CVS_5_8 ) in which I appear in a dress. My own feelings about so-called 'cross-dressing' is that people shd wear whatever clothes they want to regardless of what sex those clothes are ordinarily associated w/. Even in today's considerably more 'queer-friendly' world, a man in drag is not likely to be well-rc'vd in most places. In Wood's time, things were much more intolerant.
"In 1953 Wood wrote and directed the exploitation semi-documentary film Glen or Glenda (originally titled I Changed My Sex!) with producer George Weiss. The film starred Wood (under the alias "Daniel Davis"), his girlfriend Dolores Fuller, and Lugosi (in voiceover) as the god-like narrator. The film, loosely based on transgender woman Christine Jorgensen, was panned by critics (then and now), and considered one of Wood's worst films, though many others have praised its camp qualities. It is notable for its emphatic and groundbreaking portrayal of LGBT issues at a time when the media was very hostile to such ideas." - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ed_Wood...
&, Lo & Behold!, Glen & Glenda are the names of the main character, a cross-dressing hit (wo)man.
""Open it—If you try for a gun I'll see you go out the hard way. Right in the belly where it'll hurt—where it'll take you a long time to die."" - p 21
That's at least the 2nd time recently that I've come across the notion of shooting people in the stomach to make them suffer horribly while dying slowly. Is that some sort of rc'vd wisdom in this culture?
Glenda wants to retire from the Syndicate, that's a no-no.
"The syndicate had a long arm, but after the operation which would make Glenda a real girl, she could well disappear forever from their grasp." - p 25
There's some confusion in the bk about wch way Glen/da's sexual preferences run but basically it's heterosexual. How this heterosexuality was to be experienced after having the penis removed is a bit unclear. Life is complicated.
In keeping w/ Wood's own cross-dressing preferences much of Killer in Drag & Death of a Transvestite centers around the clothes. "A matching black velvet belt with a rhinestone buckle embraced tightly to her twenty-two inch waist line". (p 26) Wch will kill Glen/da 1st?: a syndicate killer or complications from cinching in the waist too far?! Wood's characters are definitely concerned w/ being sexy women.
"The bellboys eyes lighted up suddenly. "Yeah," he replied dreamily. "It was summer—She was wearing pink slacks and a pink sweater. Not one of them fuzzy kind like she's got on now—but a tight one; showed just about everything she had. I'll never forget that sight if I live to be a thousand. Let me tell you. That set of titties she's got sure does stretch the wool—and the imagination—WHOW."" - p 28
In keeping w/ Glen/da's sexual ambiguity, even though Glen/da's lust for & sexual skill w/ women is emphasized, as a career move away from being a killer s/he goes to a rich gay man's place to sexually please him for the advancement connections that'll result.
"Glenda slid softly into the bed beside the old man. Immediately he was at Glenda. She felt his hot breath on her neck; her ears; her throat; her hair. He wiggled. He squirmed. Sweat poured from his sex hungry body. He moaned words of endearment. Words of love; of forever worship. His hand suddenly lashed out and tore the right shoulder strap from Glenda's nightie. Then the left tore the other strap. The foam rubber breasts that made many women green with jealousy, rolled from her flat chest to lose themselves in the fast becoming wrinkled sheets and blankets. Dalten Van Carter's tongue searched the small boyish nipples of her breasts as his feverish hands pushed away the pink mist." - pp 37-38
But then the party pooper came in.
"The little Negro boy who had helped him escape was also dead. Murdered! The only one. other than the murderer, who knew that Glenda had not killed Van Carter." - p 52
Of course, Glenda's fooling those heterosexual men does have a tendency to bring out the beast. But Glenda has a way of dealing w/ wd-be rapists.
"Glenda came out from behind the brush just enough for him to see the lovely body still partially hidden in the tight pink panties and brassiere. Her long auburn hair fell so wonderfully over her white shoulders. Charlie stared out of the car window. Glenda unsnapped the brassiere and turned her back at the same time. With her back to him she let the brassiere fall to the brush. She cupped her hands over her flat boyish nipples feigning full breasts, and turned to him again.
""You can come over now, honey . . ." she cooed." - p 63
Glen/da falls on hard times as s/he tries to evade the police & the syndicate. S/he's looked upon w/ suspicion in a small town along the way.
""What in the world is a 'Green River' law?"
""A kinda law that keeps them door to door sales guys off our backs. They hit this town like a swarm of locust a few years back. Made deals on a lot of things: magazines; pills; face soap that takes out wrinkles; miracle seeds; any kind of gimmick thing. Sure! Nobody sees them, the cash and most of all the folks never see what they bought. Course—Lots of them sales folks is honest hard working citizens. But because of the bad ones, everybody's gotta suffer."" - pp 76-77
Yes, the same person who wrote such monologues as "Stupid, stupid, stupid!" for Plan 9 from Outer Space wrote the above. Too bad Wood didn't start as a writer & then become a filmmaker.
"A Green River Ordinance is a common United States city ordinance prohibiting door-to-door solicitation. Under such an ordinance, it is illegal for any business to sell their items door-to-door without express prior permission from the household. Some versions prohibit all organizations, including non-profit charitable, political, and religious groups, from soliciting or canvassing any household that makes it clear, in writing, that it does not want such solicitations (generally with a "No Trespassing" or "No Solicitations" sign posted).
"The ordinance is named for the city of Green River, Wyoming, which in 1931 was the first city to enact it. The ordinance was unsuccessfully challenged on constitutional grounds by the Fuller Brush Company in 1932." - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_R...
Our anti-hero decides to invest his killer money in buying a carnival, partially to comouflage himself from the local law. This turns out to be a bad idea. It's funny seeing the hardened killer in drag get bilked.
"That did it. Bill Greater burned. "Maybe you think you'd like to take over the whole show?"
""Maybe I would at that," Glen spit back quickly.
"Bill Greater's mind clicked fast. The whole shebang wasn't worth five thousand bucks. It had been a bad season all the way. The insurance company wouldn't renew his insurance on several of the rides because of their condition and he wasn't about to throw good money after bad by fixing them up." - p 89
Again, I emphasize that Wood wasn't anywhere near as inept a writer as he was a filmmaker. Consider this passage re Glen/da surveying his/her new domain.
"A Hindu spread out on nails. The Fire Eater; and an extra large poster of the Half-Man, Half-Woman, blow off attraction.
"Noises of every description resounded throughout the entire area and it was into this fantastic scene Glen walked from his new office.
"His eyes marveled at the speed and accuracy with which the work was accomplished. Each man knowing his job and doing it with the precision only experience could teach." - p 93
"Shirlee's voice became whiskey thick. "Meet old Doc Henry yet?"
"This time she waited for an answer. Glen slowly spoke. "No, I haven't."
""You will. But even as young as you are—you're too old for him. He likes young boys. Ten. Twelve. Thirteen. He's a son of a bitchin' bastard creep. You ain't gonna find anybody around here that likes that son of a bitchin' creep. It's his son of a bitchin' creep kind that makes a bad name for everybody who is a—little—different."" - pp 100-101
Glen goes home with a prostitute. He's more excited by her clothes than he is by her (but that changes).
"Glen nearly drooled at the red satin, knee length cocktail dress she had been wearing beneath the rain coat. Even her drop earrings, necklace and bracelet were of a red glass. She leaned over to open the bottle and pour the whiskey into both glasses.
""Bet you even wear red undies." Glen had a warm smile on his face." - p 121
One of the things that makes this bk so grim is that even the sympahetic characters undergo horrible experiences. I won't spoil that plot by specifiying. All in all, Wood's vision of humanity is pretty sad.
""Ah—too damned fat. Maybe if I shave." Pause. "What the hell can a shave do for a kisser like mine. Kisser? Huh! It ain't been even kissed in five years. That old battle ax of mine—Huh! Who needs that fat slob anyway." A vision of he and his wife in bed crossed his mind's eye and all he could think about were elephants." - p 162
In the long run, this is basically a variation on soft-porn exploitation or some such. As such, I can't really recommend it in the same breath as, say Ross MacDonald. Still, if you've ever watched Wood's movies & thought something like 'I could probably find this guy interesting if he weren't so inept' then you might want to try to read a novel. They're short & easy reads. I'd recommend reading Gypsy Rose Lee's mysteries 1st, though. ...more
Notes are private!
Jan 18, 2019
Jan 24, 2019
Feb 01, 2000
really liked it
Paco Ignacio Taibo II's Just Passing Through
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - January 9-10, 2019
For the complete review go here: https://ww review of
Paco Ignacio Taibo II's Just Passing Through
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - January 9-10, 2019
For the complete review go here: https://www.goodreads.com/story/show/...
Taibo can do no wrong, from my perspective. This novel's a tad different from other ones I've read insofar as the thin historical sources he's trying to flesh out don't result in much meat. That's ok, though, it's still good food-for-thought.
"A NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR
"Much of what is written on the pages that follow is faithfully based on original documents, like conference minutes, police files, reports from foreign secret agents, witnesses' memoirs, articles from union newspapers, magazines and national newspapers.
"It would be difficult to describe this work as a novel."
"ANOTHER NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR
"The majority of what is written on these pages has been reconstructed using the aurhor's imagination, as well as his personal and not very reliable accounts of events that took place in Tampico, Atlixco, Veracruz and Mexico City between 1920 and 1923. The documentary evidence is just the framework around which the fiction is built.
"It would be difficult to describe this work as a documentary; it is obviously a novel."
"A FINAL NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR
"Just what the hell is a novel?"
Taibo quotes telegrams back & forth between J. Edgar Hoover & various agents. This was before the FBI existed so Hoover wd've been "head of the Bureau of Investigation's new General Intelligence Division" (Wikipedia) at the time of the following quote:
"AUG 20, 1920.
"ALL PORTS ARREST WARRANT SAN VICENTE AKA RUBIO. PREVENT DEPARTURE FROM COUNTRY. FOLLOW UP IF THE CONTRARY. AUTHORIZATION LIMITED TO MEXICO, CUBA, CANADA. MAX ALLOCATION SIX AGENTS FOR SAME.
"HOOVER" - p 2
"War Emergency Division
"He soon became the head of the Division's Alien Enemy Bureau, authorized by President Woodrow Wilson at the beginning of World War I to arrest and jail allegedly disloyal foreigners without trial. He received additional authority from the 1917 Espionage Act. Out of a list of 1,400 suspicious Germans living in the U.S., the Bureau arrested 98 and designated 1,172 as arrestable.
"Bureau of Investigation
"Head of the Radical Division
"In August 1919, the 24-year-old Hoover became head of the Bureau of Investigation's new General Intelligence Division, also known as the Radical Division because its goal was to monitor and disrupt the work of domestic radicals. America's First Red Scare was beginning, and one of Hoover's first assignments was to carry out the Palmer Raids.
"Hoover and his chosen assistant, George Ruch, monitored a variety of U.S. radicals with the intent to punish, arrest, or deport those whose politics they decided were dangerous. Targets during this period included Marcus Garvey; Rose Pastor Stokes and Cyril Briggs; Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman; and future Supreme Court justice Felix Frankfurter, who, Hoover maintained, was "the most dangerous man in the United States."
"Head of the Bureau of Investigation
"In 1921, Hoover rose in the Bureau of Investigation to deputy head and, in 1924, the Attorney General made him the acting director. On May 10, 1924, President Calvin Coolidge appointed Hoover as the fifth Director of the Bureau of Investigation, partly in response to allegations that the prior director, William J. Burns, was involved in the Teapot Dome scandal. When Hoover took over the Bureau of Investigation, it had approximately 650 employees, including 441 Special Agents. Hoover fired all female agents and banned the future hiring of them."
I checked Hoover's history online because I wanted to doublecheck whether he was as powerful in 1920 as Taibo presents him as being. He was. Hoover, of course, is an archetype of what's wrong with the Injustice System in the US insofar as he persecuted people active in causes that I support, such as the Civil Rights movement. He, of course, is notorious for denying the existence of Organized Crime at the same time that he was getting tips on the horse races from Mafiosa.
San Vicente, a dedicated revolutionary, is the hero of this bk.
"He told me about the Paris Commune as if he had been there, about Red Barcelona and the May 1 Chicago Haymarket Martyrs like Louis Ringg who blew his face off with an exploding cigarette before they could hang him" - p 12
"Ringg" is what it says in the bk & I find that peculiar b/c, as far as I know, the person in question was Louis Lingg. Is this a typo? Or is this the author presenting the narrator as a person w/ flawed memory or a person who misunderstood in the 1st place? I doubt that Taibo made a mistake.
Alas, even the hero gets robbed & the usual separation between poor people w/ consciences & poor people w/o consciences comes into play:
"On top of all that—in a little notebook with just a few leaves—he jotted down notes about Tampico, wrote a few unfinished letters, and balanced some accounts... A pair of pickpockets who worked for Slippers stole the notebook from him in San Lázaro station, who in turn passed it to a reserve polcieman, who turned it over to the authorities and, years later, it turned up on the desk of Gendarmerie Capt. Arturo Gómez." - p 19
A report to Hoover:
"While there, one of the most active members of anarchist groups and IWW. Said to have been involved in Mayflower assassionation attempt when Pres. Wilson got back Europe (JA)." - p 26
I find no mention of an attempt on President Wilson in James W. Clarke's excellent American Assassins, The Darker Side of Politics so I looked online. In Wikipedia's "List of United States presidential assassination attempts and plots" ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of... ) there's no mention of a plot against Wilson. Given that I think Taibo's an excellent researcher I wonder what he knows that might not've gotten into general circulation. Then again, I wonder if this was some Hoover-manufactured bullshit being used as an excuse to arrest 'political undesirables'.
One of Taibo's fictional filling-in-of-the-gaps is about someone being hired to kill San Vicente:
""I'm told you were given some bills to kill me," he said straight off and without so much as a hello.
""Take the money out of your vest pocket with your two fingers and put it on the table," he told me. People were gathering round, and they were no assholes either, all getting behind him. It was clear that if there was going to be a shoot-out, it would all come my way.
"I spread the money out like a deck of cards, juts like they'd given it to me.
""You know this isn't for me. I won't touch a penny of it."" - p 34
"That asshole of a boss at the Cantabria squealed to some working stiff there so if I didn't kill San Vicente, he'd kill me, and then he'd send the cops in to finish things off. It wasn't the double-cross that bothered me most, it was the lack of trust.
"So I went along to Cantabria offices and put a slug between the wise-ass' eyes." - pp 34-35
Taibo's fiction has a hit man turn on his employer & kill him. Nice fantasy. I wonder if that's ever happened? Taibo touches further on his research:
"Once when I was in Washington, D.C., in the basement of the National Archives, I did a computer search to turn over the FBI's database for all the information they had on lists of foreign anarchists who had roamed around Mexico. I waited in the white-walled booth in which I was closed up. The computer rejected the name Sebastián San Vicente. I suppose that is where this story began.
"I wrote his name again, joining up the two words in his surname (Sanvicente), and the computer grudgingly gave me a list of files, that half an hour later turned into six rolls of microfilm, which a girl with spectacles like bottle tops brought to my electronic cavern." - pp 37-38
""Excuse me, is this the San Vicente family house?"
""I know this may seem a little strange, but I'm a writer trying to find out about a Mr. San Vicente who lived in Mexico City in the twenties."" - p 91
The Mexican Revolution is said to've lasted from November 20, 1910, to May 21, 1920. As such, this attempt at a history of San Vicente takes place after the revolution.. but not long after. Presumably, there were many people who felt that the revolution had not succeeded enuf. One of my favorite scenes in the novel is one in wch San Vicente & a fellow revolutionary, Phillips, continue to discuss political issues while they're being arrested & imprisoned.
"San Vicente's forty-five rolled along the waxed floor, and then followed the man, with his hands in the air.
""You're completely wrong, Phillips," he said, looking at his friend, without even glancing at the gun-barrels aiming at him. "The revolution is an act of will. What the bleedin' hell has science got to do with it?"
""Move your ass, jerk," a gendarme said, poking him with his rifle." - p 62
""Why not the soviets? But they must be soviets for all tendencies, soviets with room for all political organizations. Soviets elected from the grass roots, from the workers' assemblies."
""That's the way the soviets are in Russia."
""If that's the way they really were. But they've shut out the anarchists and social revolutionaries."
""They weren't elected in the last congress."
""They're being persecuted."
""They've acted against the revolution."
""They've acted against the Bolshevik dictatorship," said San Vicente." - p 64
""Are you a Bakuninite, one of Malatesta's pure anarchists, like one of those Spanish anarcho-syndicalists from the CNT, or what?" Phillips asked, and then added, "I met Pestaña in Moscow last year."
""I haven't had the pleasure. I happen to be an anarcho-syndicalist, or hadn't you noticed all these months we've been seeing each other? I like chorizo sausage, but I'm a vegetarian like all the Spanish working class," said San Vicente, half jokingly but half seriously." - pp 66-67
Mexican authorities institute a campaign of surveillance.
"The undersigned had been commissioned together with nine other agents from his group to keep a surveillance watch on the Gneral Workers' Confederation local at No. 27 Uruguay Street, hoping that the Spanish subversive José San Vicente, error, Sebastián San Vicente, a.k.a. Pedro Sánchez, a.k.a. the Tampico Man would show up, since he is on our wanted list. Although he was deported from Mexico last year, he has returned to continue with his illegal activities" - p 95
San Vicente goes into action against scabs.
"the streetcars were running, driven by scabs and with army escorts!" - p 107
"It was 11:15 on a cloudy morning. The first streetcar—a motorized one, No. 798—with a car in tow, had left the depot at eleven and went through the Plaza de Armas a few minutes later. There were no passengers on board because nobody had felt like stopping it. A scab was driving it escorted by eight soldiers—all Yaqui Indians amed with Mausers—from the palace guards regiment." - pp 107-108
"San Vicente cocked his pistol but was not the first to act. Robert Etagere, a streetcar worker, took a running jump and threw himself through a streetcar window and wrestled a Mauser off one of the soldiers. Then he shot the scab who was driving. San Vicente jumped through the door opposite. Rifle shots flew around inside the streetcar. The Spaniard fired off six shots at the solfiers, wounding three of them." - p 108
"A friend, a comrade says to him, "Sebastián, normal men fall in love with a whore once in their lives, idealists spenf time trying to reform them, but you couldn't stop there. No, you just had to go and organize them."" - p 113
""But did this man exist or didn't he?" my publisher Marco Antonio Jiménez—who's really suspicious—asks.
""Of course he existsed."
""But how do you tell his story?"
""I just go along, a few details here and there."
""Well, are you going to publish it nor not? What the fuck does it matter whether he was really like this or like that, whether his clothes were this color or that?"
""But did he exist?"
""Good."" - p 117
There's a hunchback doctor who treats people for free, essentially another revolutionary.
"It's not for nothing that I'm the only hunchback with a medical diploma from the Sorbonne who treats people for free in the Bolsa district, who practices abortions, cures bleeding runaways, watches out for venereal diseases and quack herbal remedies. All that, and preventative medicine, selling condoms at cost, curing skin diseases and curing uncontrollable drug and alcohol addiction using the Prado method where if the patients don't die, it's a cinch they're saved for the rest of their vice-free days." - p 121
Remember VD? Venereal Disease? Does anyone say that anymore? Or is it just STDs (Sexually Transmitted Diseases)? Or is thre a new term I don't know? & what about this "Prado method"? What is it? I looked for it online & didn't find it. Perhaps it was a method that's considered too dangerous or untrustworthy now that doctors don't want information about it online out of fear of misuse. Dunno.
""The CROM couldn't find any other way to move into the La Colmena works than hiring a bunch of unemployed men—unemployed cops sacked from El Oro—and put them under the command of a friend of Alvarez, a slob of a leader from the Mexico City Federation, whom even they had sent to Coventry because he had got addicted to drugs and was of no use, not even as an office worker.["]" - p 123
"The Confederación Regional Obrera Mexicana (CROM) (Spanish: Regional Confederation of Mexican Workers) is a federation of labor unions in Mexico.
"It was founded in Saltillo in 1918 at a congress of labor delegates called by Mexican President Venustiano Carranza. The federation, of which Luis Napoleón Morones was a major leader, marked a departure from the traditionally anarchist stance of Mexican labor to a nationalist position." - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regiona...
In other words, a fake union meant to serve government purposes. As for being "sent to Coventry":
"To be ignored or ostracised. This behaviour often takes the form of pretending that the shunned person, although conspicuously present, can't be seen or heard.
"The origins of this phrase aren't known, although it is quite probable that events in Coventry in the English Civil War in the 1640s play a part." - https://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/s...
Of course, the police are after San Vicente. One of them is Gómez.
"Gómez, that's me. Arturo Gómez, captain in the Mexico City mounted police. Shot my way up to Captain, rather than getting here by picking up housebreakers or punks who mug old women. A frustrated pianist too, if you must know. I don't mean frustrated by lack of time or talent, but because I had two fingers blown off my left hand in the Battle of Celaya, and nobody composes piano piecs for just the right hand." - p 131
▪ Album for One Hand Alone No.1 (Beneking, Stephan)
▪ Album for One Hand Alone No.2 (Beneking, Stephan)
▪ Album for One Hand Alone No.3 (Beneking, Stephan)
▪ Album für das einhändige Klavierspiel (Hochstetter, Cäsar)
▪ Amygdala Nocturne No.1 in A minor (Beneking, Stephan)
▪ Amygdala Nocturne No.2 in A-flat minor (Beneking, Stephan)
▪ Amygdala Nocturne No.3 in A-sharp minor (Beneking, Stephan)
▪ Clavierstück für die rechte oder linke Hand allein, H.241 (Bach, Carl Philipp Emanuel)
▪ 24 Concert Études (Giorni, Aurelio)
▪ 6 Elegies for One Hand in B minor (Beneking, Stephan)
▪ Etudes rhapsodiques, Op.51 (Kessler, Joseph Christoph)
▪ Glasperlenspiel (Beneking, Stephan)
▪ 3 Grandes Études, Op.76 (Alkan, Charles-Valentin)
▪ 5 Gymnopédies (Beneking, Stephan)
▪ Lyrische Stücke (Grieg, Edvard)
▪ 3 Morceaux de Concert (Satter, Gustav)
▪ 3 Morceaux (Lisovsky, Leonid)
▪ 10 Nocturnes for One Hand Alone in C-sharp minor (Beneking, Stephan)
▪ 10 Nocturnes-Etudes for One Hand Alone (Beneking, Stephan)
▪ 6 Nocturnes-Etudes for One Hand (Beneking, Stephan)
▪ Ohne (Mirzazade, Khayyam)
▪ 15 Pieces de clavecin faciles (Vogler, Georg Joseph)
▪ 18 Preludes for One Hand Alone (Beneking, Stephan)
▪ 20 Preludes, Op.52 (Foote, Arthur)
▪ Serenade for a Right Hand (Yamamoto, Jun)
▪ Springar (Zintl, Frank)
▪ Un Sourire à Papeete (Lyonnaz, Paul)
▪ Valse chantée, H 131 (Berlioz, Hector)
▪ 24 Valses melancoliques for One Hand (Beneking, Stephan)
▪ Vocalise (Bitensky, Laurence Scott)
But San Vicente evades capture.
""Come out, San Vicente, with your hands up!"
"There is a window—you lean out. You can hear bullets tearing through the door behind you. First things first—you throw a five-foot wardrobe against the door, then the cot and a trunk full of old plates. The window. On the first floor. You stick your head out, your hair on end as if you had just had a fright. And what the hell is this if it isn't a fright? The glass shatters and a shot comes in through the window. The bullet smashes into the ceiling, raising a neat little cloud of plaster. You smash the remaining window-panes with the barrel of your colt, and rattle off five shots in quick succession. The rifle butts are now splintering the door. You jump out of the window. You lose a shoe when your feet hit the ground, and you keep on shooting—using the revolver now—at two shadows that go scurrying away. You reload by lamplight" - pp 139-140
"San Vicente puts a copy of Anarchyby Errico Malatesta into his jacket pocket and breathes deeply. He cannot go to the Nuestra Palabra editorial meeting because the police are bound to be waiting for him when he gets there. Leave town? Go to Librado Rivera's anarchist group in San Luis Potosí? Or to Veracruz, where Fernando Oca from Santander was now trying to take anarchist unions into the countryside? Or to Bruschetta in Puebla? Or somewhere new, where the CGT hasn't spread, like the mining districts in Chihuahua, Coahuila or Zacatecas?" - p 143
I figure Malatesta is well enuf known for me to not go into him here — but what about the rest?
"Librado Rivera (August 17, 1864 - March 1, 1932) was an anarchist during the Mexican Revolution. He co-published the anarchist newspaper Regeneración with Jesús Flores Magón and Ricardo Flores Magón. He took over editorial duties for the anarcho-syndicalist newspaper Sagitario in 1924." - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Librado...
For the complete review go here: https://www.goodreads.com/story/show/... ...more
Notes are private!
Jan 10, 2019
Dec 01, 1993
it was amazing
Patrícia Galvão's Industrial Park
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - November 16-18, 2018
For the complete review go here: https://www.goodread review of
Patrícia Galvão's Industrial Park
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - November 16-18, 2018
For the complete review go here: https://www.goodreads.com/story/show/...
I don't speak Spanish or Portuguese & I've never been further directly south of the US than the Bahamas & Tijuana. When I tell people that I've been to Tijuana they say "That's not really Mexico" — meaning, of course, that it's just the tourist version of Mexico. & even tho I once organized a Latin American festival & I have 35 bks listed on my Latin American shelf here on Goodreads (& have actually read at least twice that many Latin American bks) & I (d) composed a piece called "Lost in Translation" that's based around Latin American music & literature AND have a piece out on record called "Birds of Villa-Villa Lobos (after Michael Pestel)" that uses samples from Heitor Villa-Lobos & Brazilian birds, I still don't know shit about Latin America . Basically, I need to speak Spanish & Portuguese (& other native languages wd be preferable too) & I need to fucking go there & stay there & be active there — & that's not likely to happen.
SO, I'll have to settle for reading & reviewing bks such as this one to help inform myself. The cover of Industrial Park declares it to be "A PROLETARIAN NOVEL" & that caught my interest. The back cover caught my interest even more:
"The novel dramatizes the problems of exploitation, poverty, racial prejudice, prostitution, state repression, and neocolonialism, but it is by no means a doctrinaire tract. Glavão's ironic wit pervades the novel, aspiring not only to describe the teeming city but also to put art and politics in each other's service.
"Like many of her contemporaries, Galvão was a member of the Brazilian Communist Party. She attracted Party criticism for her unorthodox behavior and outspokenness. A visit to Moscow in 1934 disenchanted her with the communist state, but she continued to militate for change upon returning to Brazil. She was imprisoned and tortured under the Vargas dictatorship between 1935 and 1940. In the 1940s she returned to the public through her journalism and literary activities. She died in 1962."
The promotion of this as "by no means a doctrinaire tract" & the mention that "She attracted Party criticism for her unorthodox behavior and outspokenness." are enuf to deeply endear her to me. The thought that such a wonderfully intelligent, benevolent, & free spirit wd be "imprisoned and tortured under the Vargas dictatorship between 1935 and 1940" is horrifying. I know nothing about the dictatorships of Brazil so I looked online:
"Vargas' four-year term as President under the 1934 Constitution was due to expire in 1938, and he was barred from reelection. However, on November 10, 1937, Vargas made a national radio address denouncing the existence of a communist plot to overthrow the government, called the Cohen Plan (Plano Cohen). In reality, however, Plano Cohen was forged in the government with the objective of creating a favourable atmosphere for Vargas to stay in power, perpetuating his rule and assuming dictatorial powers.
"The Communists had indeed attempted to take over the Government in November 1935, in a botched coup attempt known as the Intentona Comunista (Communist Attempt). In the wake of the failed Communist uprising, Congress had already given greater powers to Vargas, and approved the creation of a National Security Tribunal (Tribunal de Segurança Nacional), established by a statute adopted on 11 September 1936.
"In his address of 10 November 1937, Vargas, invoking the supposed Communist threat, decreed a state of emergency and dissolved the Legislature. He also announced the adoption by Presidential fiat of a new, severely authoritarian Constitution that effectively placed all governing power in his hands. The 1934 Constitution was thus abolished, and Vargas proclaimed the establishment of a "Estado Novo" (New State). The short interval was further evidence that the self-coup had been planned well in advance.
"Under this dictatorial regime the powers of the National Security Tribunal were streamlined, and it focused on the prosecution of political dissenters. Also, the powers of the police were greatly enhanced, with the establishment of DOPS, a powerful political police and secret service. When created in 1936, the National Security Tribunal was supposed to be a temporary Court, and defendants could file appeals against its judgements to the Superior Military Court (Superior Tribunal Militar [pt]), Brazil's Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, which was in turn subordinate to the Nation's Supreme Court. Thus, Communists and other defendants accused of plotting coups were judged by the military court-martial system (with the National Security Tribunal as the trial court of first instance for those cases), and not by the ordinary courts. With the advent of the Estado Novo regime, the National Security Tribunal became a permanent Court, and became autonomous from the rest of the Court system. It gained authority to adjudicate not only cases of Communist conspirators and other coup plotters, but it now tried anyone accused of being subversive or dangerous to the Estado Novo regime. Also, several extrajudicial punishments were inflicted by the police itself (especially by the DOPS political police), without trial."
Does any of that sound familiar?
"The Reichstag fire (German: Reichstagsbrand,) was an arson attack on the Reichstag building (home of the German parliament) in Berlin on 27 February 1933, one month after Adolf Hitler was sworn in as Chancellor of Germany. Hitler's government stated that Marinus van der Lubbe, a Dutch council communist, was found near the building and attributed the fire to communist agitators in general—though in 1933, a German court decided that van der Lubbe had acted alone, as he claimed. After the fire, the Reichstag Fire Decree was passed. The Nazi Party used the fire as evidence that communists were plotting against the German government, and the event is considered pivotal in the establishment of Nazi Germany. The term Reichstag fire has come to refer to false flag actions perpetrated or facilitated by an authority to promote their own interests through popular approval of retribution or retraction of civil rights." - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reichst...
"On Sept. 11, terrorists flew planes into the World Trade Center, Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania - and the EEOC" [Equal Employment Opportunity Commission] "was faced with its own unique traumas and challenges resulting from these attacks on America. The Commission's New York District Office (NYDO) at Seven World Trade Center was severely damaged in the attack, and all EEOC personnel were evacuated. It collapsed later in the day with no loss of life or injuries, but the office and all of its equipment, files, and records were destroyed." - https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/history/50t...
"The Patriot Act is a more than 300-page document passed by the U.S. Congress with bipartisan support and signed into law by President George W. Bush on October 26, 2001, just weeks after the September 11 terrorist attacks against the United States."
"According to the Department of Justice, the Patriot Act simply expanded the application of tools already being used against drug dealers and organized crime. The act aimed to improve homeland security by:
"allowing law enforcement to use surveillance and wiretapping to investigate terror-related crimes
"allowing federal agents to request court permission to use roving wiretaps to track a specific terrorist suspect
"allowing delayed notification search warrants to prevent a terrorist from learning they are a suspect
"allowing federal agents to seek federal court permission to obtain bank records and business records to aid in national security terror investigations and prevent money laundering for terrorism financing
"improving information and intelligence sharing between government agencies
"providing tougher penalties for convicted terrorists and those who harbor them
"allowing search warrants to be obtained in any district where terror-related activity occurs, no matter where the warrant is executed
"ending the statute of limitations for certain terror-related crimes
"making it harder for aliens involved in terrorist activities to enter the United States
"providing aid to terrorism victims and public safety officers involved in investigating or preventing terrorism or responding to terrorist attacks
"Many of the Patriot Act’s requirements were slated to expire in 2005. Whether to renew the act was passionately argued in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate.
"Despite continued civil liberties and privacy concerns, President Bush signed the USA Patriot and Terrorism Reauthorization Act on March 9, 2006."
"Despite the supposed noble intentions behind the Patriot Act, the law is still hotly debated. Civil rights groups have claimed it violates American citizens’ Constitutional rights and allows the government to spy on them without due process, search their homes without consent and increase the risk of ordinary citizens being accused of crimes without just cause.
"The federal government asserts the Patriot Act has safeguards to protect the rights of American citizens. Still, some parts of the law were found illegal by the courts. For instance, in 2015 the United States of Appeals for the Second Circuit found Section 215 of the Patriot Act could not be used to validate the bulk collection of Americans’ phone records."
The question continues to be: How many of these terrorist attacks that're used to justify stepping up authoritarian government are 'false flag actions' preplanned to con the public into accepting reduced or destroyed civil rights? The fact that Patrícia Galvão was "imprisoned and tortured under the Vargas dictatorship between 1935 and 1940" is an excellent indication of how power can be abused w/ insufficient checks & balances. I found the "Translators's Preface" to Industrial Park very useful:
"Stylistically, it bridged the years when many writers combined modernist experimentation with themes of social realism. Its treatment of race and class compared favorably with that of proletarian novels of the same period by Jorge Amado but added a valuable urban, feminist perspective that had not been available before. Scenes of raw anarchist and communist propaganda conveyed how deeply Pagu" [Patrícia Galvão] "was involved in promoting workers' political consciousness and revolt." - p VIII
"THE STATISTICS AND THE HISTORY OF THE HUMAN STRATUM THAT SUSTAINS THE INDUSTRIAL PARK OF São Paulo & SPEAKS THE LANGUAGE OF THIS BOOK, CAN BE FOUND, UNDER THE CAPITALIST REGIME, IN THE JAILS AND IN THE SLUM HOUSES, IN THE HOSPITALS & IN THE MORGUES." - p 5
Exactly. & that's a pretty good indication of what makes this an important bk.
"In the dirty latrines the girls spend a joyful minute stolen from the slave labor.
"—The Manager said that from now on we can only come two at a time!
"—Can you believe it? Did you see how much trash they wrote!
"—That's because before, this was the men's latrine!
"—But here's a dirty poem!
"—How awful! They should erase it. . .
"—What's the meaning of this word 'fascism'?
"—Dummy! It's that Mussolini thing.
"—Not on your life! Pedro said that here in Brazil there's fascism too." - p 10
When I think of things like controlled toilet breaks I think of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire:
"The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City on March 25, 1911 was the deadliest industrial disaster in the history of the city, and one of the deadliest in US history. The fire caused the deaths of 146 garment workers – 123 women and 23 men – who died from the fire, smoke inhalation, or falling or jumping to their deaths. Most of the victims were recent Italian and Jewish immigrant women aged 14 to 23; of the victims whose ages are known, the oldest victim was 43-year-old Providenza Panno, and the youngest were 14-year-olds Kate Leone and "Sara" Rosaria Maltese.
"The factory was located on the eighth, ninth and tenth floors of the Asch Building, at 23–29 Washington Place in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan."
"Because the owners had locked the doors to the stairwells and exits – a then-common practice to prevent workers from taking unauthorized breaks and to reduce theft – many of the workers who could not escape from the burning building jumped from the high windows."
Yes, that was in the United States of America. We really don't need to go to those '3rd world countries' for exploited labor, now do we?!
"A pale young girl answers the call and stammers that it's impossible to finish the order for the next day.
"—What did you say? exclaims the seamstress nudging her into the inner workshop. Do you think that I'm going to displease mademoiselle just because of a few lazy tramps? Today there will be overtime until one in the morning.
"—I can't stay at night, Madame! Momma is sick. I have to give her medicine!
"—You're staying! Your mother won't die waiting a few hours.
"—But I have to!
"—Nothing doing. If you go, you're out.
"The proletarian returns to her place among her coworkers. She shudders at the idea of losing the job that had been so difficult to find." - p 15
Galvão sets the scene:
"—We don't have time to get to know our own children!
"Meeting of a regional labor union. Women, men, laborers of all ages. All colors. All mentalities. Aware. Unaware. Informers.
"Those who look to the union as the only way to satisfy their immediate demands. Those who are attracted by the union bureaucracy. The future men of the revolution. Revolters. Anarchists. Infiltrators." - p 21
"—We can't get to know our own children! We leave home at six in the morning. They are sleeping. We return at ten. They are sleeping. We don't have vacations. We don't have Sundays to rest!" - p 22
"—We build palaces and live worse than bourgeois dogs. When we're unemployed, we're treated like bums. If we only have a street bench to sleep on, the police arrest us. And ask why we don't move to the interior. They're ready to send us to die by the lash on the Laranjeira family's maté tea plantation!" - p 23
"—Poor people can't even be mothers! I dunno how I got this baby! I have to give him to someone, so the poor thing won't die of hunger. If I keep taking care of him how will I find a job? I have to give him up to take care of other people's children! I'll nurse the sons of the rich and I don't know how mine will get by." - p 74
These snippets are just that in comparison to the larger picture. Galvão tells it very well. One of the central narratives is of the marriage between Eleonora, working class, & Alfredo, ruling class. Eleonora is ecstatic to enter the life of luxury & hedonism & to escape the drudgery that she wd've otherwise been doomed to. Alfredo despises the class he was born into & wants to escape THAT & join in the revolution.
"Eleonora, contrary to what Alfredo had thought, is amazed. So much intelligence and so much elegance! She is courted. Insistent admirers. Luxury. Sparkling jewels. A punch more delicious than she had ever imagined existed. She becomes angry when Alfredo wants to leave, annoyed.
"He climbs in the automobile behind her, shouting:
"—I hate these people! These parasites. . . And I'm one of them!" - p 33
I'm sympathetic to both positions. Not every woman in the garment district is so lucky as to be well-treated by one of the parasite class.
"Corina reads a scrap of torn newspaper. Soft, sleepless eyelids. The lice and fleas nest on her slender body. The dirty mat thrown into a corner of the prison. The blue denim of her long skirt. Her shapely legs, barefoot, dark. She looks them over and crosses them, excited, dragging her long toenails along the protrusions of the wall. She feels her firm flesh. So pretty, she'll grow old alone, in prison." - p 59
Meanwhile, the parasite class actually commits crimes, instead of going to prison for trumped-up ones, behind the scenes.
"Automobile Club. Inside flies. The high-class Club asks for relief through the decadent pens of its press flunkies. Now it wants to dupe City Hall, selling it the building that the Club couldn't finish. It's the crisis. São Paulo's nascent capitalism turns its feudal and hairy belly up." - p 65
People kill lice & fleas & mousquitos — or at least try to get them off their body. It's a much harder task to try to get rid of the larger parasites & the system that enables them.
"The tiny voice of the revolutionary rises in the flushed faces of the rally.
"—Comrades! We can't remain silent in the midst of this struggle! We must be at the side of our men in the streets, as we are when we work in the factory. We have to fight together against the bourgeoisie that drain our health and turn us into human rags! They take from our breast the last drop of milk that belongs to our little ones to live on champagne and parasitism!
"At night, we don't even have the strength to warm our children who are left alone the whole day or shut up in filthy rooms without anyone to look after them! We must not weaken the strike with our complaints! We are behind in the rent and even go hungry, while our bosses who do nothing live in luxury and order the police to attack us! But this still will not make us slaves our whole lives!" - p 80
What nazism & fascism does is derail this class anger & direct it against ethnic groups, Jews & immigrants these days in the US & Europe. This is a ruling class tactic for deflecting criticism away from itself to people who're easily socially isolated into being targets.
"At twelve years of age she entered the cloth factory. The revolt against the exploiters and assassins. She discovered the union. She understood the class struggle.
"From the bars she leans against, she sees the soldiers' mess. At nine, from the other direction, the luxury train to Rio goes by. The Southern Cross. Each compartment costs four hundred milreis for one night. She earned two hundred a month, sometimes less." - p 85
Meanwhile, Alfredo is trying to do what he thinks is right.
"Alfredo? Could she believe it? Could her companions be wrong?
"She'll talk with him all her free hours to see if she can discover a false position, an opportunistic purpose, a shadow of bossism or opportunism. That great bourgeois from the Esplanada!
"Everyone tells her that his political line is perfect." - p 91
Ah, but the same Communist Party that criticized "her unorthodox behavior and outspokenness" (in other words, Galvão was a free thinker) turns against Alfredo:
"Octavia freezes. The accusers point out hard facts. Inconsistencies. Individualism. Errors. They all stare at her, given the concrete evidence. It's true. Alfredo had let himself be dragged into the bourgeois vanguard that disguises itself under the name 'leftist opposition' in proletarian organization. He's a Trotskyite. He connives and conspires with the most cynical traitors of the social revolution." - p 104
Once again, half truths at the service of dictatorship. ...more
Notes are private!
Oct 20, 2018
Nov 18, 2018
Jul 19, 2001
Feb 25, 2003
it was amazing
Jasper Fforde's The Eyre Affair
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - November 11-13, 2018
I read Jasper Fforde's Lost in a Good Book in August of review of
Jasper Fforde's The Eyre Affair
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - November 11-13, 2018
I read Jasper Fforde's Lost in a Good Book in August of 2017. I concluded my review of that ( "Mr. & Mrs. Friday Next": https://www.goodreads.com/story/show/... ) w/ "I enjoyed the shit out of this bk." & I did. Do&es that make me a sodomizing enema instead of a critic?
Starting off that review by comparing Lost in a Good Book w/ other bks in a genre of literary rewrites, I stated that: "Jasper Fforde's Lost in a Good Book has enlivened this genre considerably by not being quite in it but still relying on & playing off of pre-existing literature. Fforde manages to up the ante considerably, though, & to make this a much more fun read by justifying the references by having a detective who actually somehow goes into the bks where the characters live & by having this cross-over between the fi&ction of the novel (posing as the 'real world') & the pre-existing fictions be all a part of a meta-narrative."
SO, I was enthusiastic. SO, why did I wait 14 mnths before I read something else by him? Well, mainly b/c I didn't find anything by him in my favorite used bookstore (Caliban) — it wasn't until I went to a different used bookstore that I found a slew of Fforde bks but they were priced a little too high for my 'budget' (anything over the height of a grasshopper). BUT, I 'have to admit', there's another reason: Fforde is such a readable p'op writer that I feel a little too unchallenged. It's actually somewhat amazing how good he is at what he does.. — it doesn't really challenge me to think, but it engrosses me in the tale. I imagine the Harry Potter stories wd do the same. I haven't read those yet & may never. I tend to like the writers who're trying to come to grips w/ their extensive experience of the world & who engross the reader in that process rather than just people who spin an excellent yarn, as Fforde very commendably does. SO, I like William S. Burroughs & Mack Reynolds more than I lik&e Fforde. Reading Fforde makes me feel like I'm 'escaping' a little bit too much, doncha know?!
The Eyre Affair was Fforde's 1'st novel & the predecessor to Lost in a Good Book. For a 1st novel it's more than a little PDG (Pretty Damn Good). He's clever.. veeerrrryyyyy clever. The New York Times Book Review is quoted as saying ""Jasper Fforde's first novel, The Eyre Affair, is a spirited sendup of genre fiction—it's part hard-boiled mystery, part time-machine caper["]". It occurs to me that something that's "part hard-boiled mystery" is something that won't pack the punch that hard-boiled mystery enthusiasts might read the stuff for — in other words, the "hard-boiled" part becomes too ameliorated & the immersion in fictional danger & sleaze no longer works.
"Thursday Next", the main character of this nov&el & its sequel, has her job introduced:
"I wasn't a member of the ChronoGuard. I never wanted to be. By all acounts it's not a huge barrel of laughs, although the pay is good and the service boasts a retirement plan that is second to none: a one-way ticket to anywhere & anywhen you want. No, that wasn't for me. I was what we called an "operative grade I" for SO-27, the Literary Det'e&ctive Division of the Special Operations Network based in London. It's way less flash than it sounds." - p 2
One of Fforde's strategies for telling the reader that this is an alternate 'reality' is to present 'news' in the narration that the reader 'knows' didn't happen in their own timeline:
""This is the midday news on Monday, May 6, 1985, and this is Alexandra Belfridge reading it. The Crimean Penisula," she announced, "has again come under scrutinty this week as the United Nations passed resolution PN17296, insisting that England and the Imperial Russian Government open negotiations concerning sovereignty. As the Crimean War enters its one hundred and thirty-first year, pressure groups both at home and abroad are pushing for a peaceful end in hostilities."" - p 7
Note that it's "the Imperial Russian Government" & NOT the U.S.S.R. — telling the reader that the Russian Revolution didn't happen in this timeline. I know nothing about the actual Crimean War that this is implied to've been a continuation of so I did a little research:
"Crimean War, (October 1853–February 1856), war fought mainly on the Crimean Peninsula between the Russians and the British, French, and Ottoman Turkish, with support from January 1855 by the army of Sardinia-Piedmont. The war arose from the conflict of great powers in the Middle East and was more directly caused by Russian demands to exercise protection over the Orthodox subjects of the Ottoman sultan. Another major factor was the dis&pute between Russia and France over the privileges of the Russian Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches in the holy places in Palestine." - https://www.britannica.com/event/Crim...
"In Britain, the Crimean War is principally remembered for three reasons: the Charge of the Light Brigade, maladministration in the British army, and Florence Nightingale. However, this war, fought by an alliance of Britain, France, Turkey and Sardinia against Russia, is far more complex.
"Many wars have been fought on the grounds of the strategic importance of a region; many wars have been fought over religious differences. The Crimean War was the result of both factors." - http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/ba...
You get the idea. These religious wars in the Middle East are practically a permanent thing. I wonder if making ChristInanity & IsDum illegal wd help?
One of the primary c'harms of The Eyre Affair & other bks of Fforde's is the way he takes characters from other people's fiction & incorporates them in his own as if there's a world where all such things interpenetrate:
""A passerby attended to you before the medics arrived; the wound in your arm was plugged and they wrapped you in their coat to keep you warm. Without their intervention you might well have bled to death."
"Intrigued, I opened the package. Firstly, there was a handkerchief that despite several washings still bore the stains of my own blood. There was an embroidered monogram in the corner that read EFR. Secondly the parcel contained a jacket, a sort of casual evening coat that might have been very popular in the middle of the last century. I searched the pockets and found a bill from a milliner. It was made out to one Edward Fairfax Rochester, Esq., and was dated 1833. I sat down heavily on the bed and stared at the two articles of clothing a&n'd the bill. Ordinarily, I would not have believed that Rochester could have torn himself from the pages of Jane Eyre and come to my aid that night; such a thing is, of course, quite impossible." - p 62
I suppose the Next step is for someone other than Fforde to write a novel in wch characters from this novel bleed thru. Is that what this review is? That's a Novel idea. What's not novel is corporations having political power. It's always nice to see it criticized:
"The Goliath Corporation had honorary me&mbers in both houses and financial advisors at the Treasury. The judiciary was well represented with Goliath people on the selection panel for High Court judges, and most major universities had a Goliath overseer living within the faculty. No one ever noticed how much they influenced the running of the country, which perhaps shows how good at it they were. Yet for all Goliath's outward benevolence, there were murmurs of dissent over the Corporation's continued privilege." - p 73
Dodos, brought back to life by cloning DNA, are pets:
"They all wanted to be made a fuss of after that, so I stayed awhile and tickled them under their chins as they searched my pockets inquisitively for any sign of marshmallows, something that dodos find particularly irresistible." - p 91
Wdn't it be nice if the dodo, & all other extinct creatures, were still alive?
"The evidence that the dodo bird (Raphus Cucullatus), extinct since 1681, could be alive is not quite as solid but still interesting. A night vision video recently uploaded to the Internet shows what appears to be a live dodo walking past an iguana. The big bird cer'tainly resembles the paintings and models we’ve seen of the dodo. It’s hard to tell what the bird under the log is." - https://mysteriousuniverse.org/2015/0...
Well, ok, I wdn't like it if every time I stepped out of my house I had to fend off a raptor. Still, a Raptor Burger chain has a special appeal for me as a carnivor&e. & what about brontosaurus brain paste for that morning toast spread? Taking the miniature stegosarus out for a walk before work?
""Hang on. Tuesday's not very good after all."
""Why not? It was fine three seconds ago. Has your dad been around again?"
""No, I just have a lot of things that I have to do and Pickwick needs kenneling and I have to pick him up at the station as airships make him nervous. You re&member the time we took hi'm to Mull and he vomited all over the steward?"
"I checked myself. I was starting to blabber like an idiot.
""And don't tell me," added Landon, "you have to wash your hair?"" - p 117
I can relate. That must be a well-known & com'monly used way of blowing off another person b/c it happened to me when I was a teenager. Even at that tender unexperienced age I realized that I was getting the Don't-call-me-I'll-call-you brush-off. I had to comb the world for better friends. I eventually became the King of Scurf. They knew me everywhere. Remember, this is an alternate timeline, a timeline where Surrealism has only recently been legalized.
""Home news now, and violence flared again in Chichester as a group of neosurrealists gathered to celebrate the fourth anniversary of the legalization of surrealism." - p120
Absurd? I mu&ch prefer it to rival football club riots. "He opened the door to another side office. A pair of identical twins were operating a large computing engine. The room was uncomfortably hot from the thousands of valves, and the clicking of relays was almost deafening. This was the only piece of modern technology that I had seen so far in the office." (p 133) See what I mean? If you gave the Turing Test to those football fans the heat from their valves wd be unbearable & their clicking relays wd be deafening but you still wdn't conclude they were human. At least in Fforde's alternative timeline culture is taken seriously.
""I can see Swindon involved in similar disturbances before long. The art college nearly had a riot on its hands last year when the governors dismissed a lecturer who had been secretly engaging students to embrace abstract expressionism. They wanted him charged under the Interpretation of the Visual Medium Act. He fled to Russia, I think."" - p 135
A Literary Detec&tive can get into what happened to characters suspiciously missing from literature. Here's an example:
""Did you ever read The Taming of the Shrew?"
""Well, you know the drunken tinker in the introduction who is made to think he is a lord, and whom they put the play on for?"
""Sure," I replied. "His name was Christopher Sly. He has a few lines at the end of act one and that is the last we hear of him . . ."
"My voice trailed off.
""Exactly," said Victor. "Six years ago an uneducated drunk who spoke only Elizabethan English was found wandering in a confused state just outside Warwick. He said that his name was Christopher Sly, demanded a drink and was very keen to see how the play turned out.["]" - pp 205-206
N&ow, I've witnessed a movie of the play, wch I barely remember, but I've never read the play itself. This cd be part of Fforde's alternate timeline. I do have a copy of the play so I've decided to check it to see if there's really a character named "Christopher Sly".
There IS such a character but he doesn't appear to have any lines at the end of Act One. He's only in the Introduction where he has the following dialog with one Next:
"Sly. Madam wife, they say that I have
And slept above some fiftee'n years or more.
"Next. Ay, and the time seems thirty unto me,
Being all this time abandoned from your bed.
"Sly. 'Tis much.—Servants, leave me and her alone.—
Madam, undress you, and come now to bed.
Next. Thrice noble lord, let me entreat of you.
To pardon me for yet a night or two:
Or, if not so, until the sun be set:
For your physicians have expressly charg'd,
In peril to incur your former malady,
That I should yet absent me from your bed:
I hope this reason stands for my excuse."
""And don't tell me," adde&d Landon, "you have to wash your hair?""
Oh, Thursday, a mnth of Sundays cdn't make you slyer — but you'll br hard put to catch up to the logic of the weapons industry:
""Brave speech but spare me the moralizing, Next. If you want your fridge-freezer and your car and a nice house and asphalt on the roads and a health service, then thank the weapons business. Thank the war economy that drives us to this and thank Goliath. The Crimea is good, Thursday—good for England and especially good for the economy. You deride the weapons business but without it we'd be a tenth-rate country struggling to maintain a standard of living anywhere near that of our European neighbors. Would you prefer that?"
""At least o'ur conscience would be clear."
""Naive, Next, very naive."" - pp 212-213
N&ow, now, Next, I'm disappointed in you. Surely there're some flaws in the pro-weapons-business argument! What about proposing an economy based on truly affordable health care (not the fraud currently offered in the US's current timeline) that's made available to other countries in lieu of invading them? Something that might make people want a country to thrive? No doubt there are many profiteering creeps who wd declare such a possibility 'naive' — but is it any more naive than thinking that the US is going to subdue the Afghani people & convert them to 'Western' ways?
"A quick search revealed eighty-four towns and villages in Wales named Penderyn. There were twice as many streets and the same number again of pubs, clubs and associations. It wasn't surprising there were so many; Dic Penderyn had been executed in 1831 for wounding a soldier during the Merthyr riots—he was innocent and so became the first martyr of th'e Welsh rising and something of a figurehead for the republican struggle." - p 257
Naturally, I had to research that. 8 of the 1st 9 results from a Google search for "penderyn wales" were for a whisky distillery. That seems a bit of a shame to me, doncha know?! The 5th entry says this:
"Penderyn is a r&ural village in Cynon Valley, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Wales. It is located near Hirwaun. Its origins and expansion begun as an agricultural market village, which supplied the ever growing needs of the nearby local Market Town of Aberdare, situated in the Cynon Valley in the county of Rhondda Cynon Taf in Wales
"It lies on the A4059 road between Hirwaun and Brecon and is the last settlement on that road in the county of Rhondda Cynon Taf before the border with Powys to the north. The village sits just within the southern boundary of the Brecon Beacons National Park. T'he River Cynon passes through the area.
"It is the home of Penderyn Whisky, produced by the Penderyn Distillery (formerly the Welsh Whisky Company (Y Cwmni Wisgi Cymreig)). The award-winning single malt whisky is the only whisky distilled in Wales, launched in 2004 after an absence of whisky distilling in Wales for more than 100 years."
"A quick search" DID NOT RE&VEAL "eighty-four towns and villages in Wales named Penderyn." Perhaps that's a part of Fforde's alternative timeline. I DID find entries for Dic Penderyn:
"On 30th May 1831, a public meeting on the subject of Parliamentary reform was held at Twyn-y-Waun common. After a while the political agenda was forgotten and the meeting began to discuss the grievances caused by the Court of Requests - a court for the recovery of small debts. Later, while part of the crowd marched to Aberdare t'o seek support from their fellow workers, the rest - mostly women and young unemployed men and boys - paraded through Merthyr, forcibly repossessing goods seized by the bailiffs and sold to cover their owners' debts.
"There was no police force in 1831, and so soldiers were sent for to control the rioters (the Aberdare marchers had gone back to work). Finally, on the morning of Friday June 3rd, soldier&s and the crowd confronted each other outside the Castle Inn.
"The crowd attacked the soldiers, who fired and killed at least sixteen people, and for the next few days Merthyr was in a state of siege. Eventually the authorities gained control and began to arrest the supposed ringleaders, including Dic Penderyn. He and another man, Lewis Lewis, were tried in Cardiff a month later on a charge of stabbing (not killing) a soldier named Donald Black. Black did not identify either Penderyn or Lewis, but they were found guilty and sentenced to death."
If you find it hard to keep track of what day it is, imagine being a ti&me traveler of a more flexible sort:
"I looked at Bowden. There was only one question we wanted to ask.
""How long have we been gone?"
""The year is now 2016," said Rutter. "You've been gone thirty-one years!!"" - p 285
I don't mean to quibble but as of the time I copied that last section out of u>The Eyre Affair it's November 13, 2018. I don't know if that makes any difference.
"He patted the large book that was the Prose Portal and looked at Mycroft's genetically engineered bookworms. They were on rest and recuperation at present in their goldfish bowl; they had just digested a recent meal of prepositions and were happily farting out apostrophes and ampersands; the air was heavy with th'em&." - p 312
SO, if you were wondering why things sp&ell'ed so bad in this review you know why no&w.
"["]Time is out of joint; O curse&d spite, that ever I was born to set it rig'ht!"
""You put that in?" I asked, always assuming he was quoting from Hamlet and n'ot the other way round.
""A small personal vanity that I'm sure will be forgiven, Thursday. Besides: Who's to k'n&ow?"" - p 370
Yet another reason to be a critical reader. Ya never know who might be creeping around from text to text. ...more
Notes are private!
Oct 13, 2018
Nov 13, 2018
Sep 01, 2000
really liked it
Leon Garfield's Black Jack
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - November 8, 2018
One thing leads to another & the next thing ya know I'm reading review of
Leon Garfield's Black Jack
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - November 8, 2018
One thing leads to another & the next thing ya know I'm reading a YA novel from 1968. Many adults seem to read YA novels almost exclusively, I'm not one of them, maybe they're YA librarians. My particular trajectory was this: I was at the central public library looking thru the DVDs. I saw the movie version of Black Jack & saw that it's by Ken Loach. I'd previously witnessed his Bread and Roses (2000) about the Spanish Civil War, wch I remembered liking very much. What I didn't remember is that I'd also witnessed his Riff Raff (1991) about exploited construction workers, wch I also liked very much. Unfortunately, I got drunk while I was watching that one & was so riled up afterwards that I almost started a fight w/ an innocent guy out on the street b/c he was 'rich' enuf to have a car, a shitty car. Not one of my finer moments. Thank goodness he didn't get out of his car, maybe he was on parole or probation or something. Maybe the woman he was w/ kept him calm. The woman I was w/ didn't keep me calm but no doubt we went back to her place for a rigorous fuck.
ANYWAY, I checked out the movie & loved it. The (non?)actors spoke w/ accents I cdn't always understand but that added to the authenticity. I'd never heard og Garfield before but I was so convinced by its mid-18th-century setting that I thought he was probably a mid-19th-century writer instead of the mid-20th-century writer he turned out to be. I just had to read the bk, donchaknow?! The language is wonderful:
"There are many queer ways of earning a living; but none so quaint as Mrs. Gorgandy's. She's a Tyburn widow. Early and black on a Monday morning, she was up at the Tree, all in a tragic flutter, waiting to be bereaved." - p 3
"In 1571, the Tyburn Tree was erected at the junction of today's Edgware Road, Bayswater Road and Oxford Street, near where Marble Arch is currently situated. The "Tree" or "Triple Tree" was a novel form of gallows, consisting of a horizontal wooden triangle supported by three legs (an arrangement known as a "three-legged mare" or "three-legged stool"). Several felons could thus be hanged at once, and so the gallows were used for mass executions, such as on 23 June 1649 when 24 prisoners—23 men and one woman—were hanged simultaneously, having been conveyed there in eight carts.
"The Tree stood in the middle of the roadway, providing a major landmark in west London and presenting a very obvious symbol of the law to travellers. After executions, the bodies would be buried nearby or in later times removed for dissection by anatomists. The crowd would sometimes fight over a body with surgeons, by fear that dismemberment could prevent the resurrection of the body on Judgement Day (see Jack Sheppard, Dick Turpin or William Spiggot).
"The first victim of the "Tyburn Tree" was John Story, a Roman Catholic who was convicted and tried for treason. A plaque to the Catholic martyrs executed at Tyburn in the period 1535–1681 is located at 8 Hyde Park Place, the site of Tyburn convent. Among the more notable individuals suspended from the "Tree" in the following centuries were John Bradshaw, Henry Ireton and Oliver Cromwell, who were already dead but were disinterred and hanged at Tyburn in January 1661 on the orders of the Cavalier Parliament in an act of posthumous revenge for their part in the beheading of King Charles I.
"The gallows seem to have been replaced several times, probably because of wear, but in general the entire structure stood all the time in Tyburn. After some acts of vandalism, in October 1759 it was decided to replace the permanent structure with new moving gallows until the last execution in Tyburn, probably carried out in November 1783.
"The executions were public spectacles and proved extremely popular, attracting crowds of thousands. The enterprising villagers of Tyburn erected large spectator stands so that as many as possible could see the hangings (for a fee). On one occasion, the stands collapsed, reportedly killing and injuring hundreds of people. This did not prove a deterrent, however, and the executions continued to be treated as public holidays, with London apprentices being given the day off for them. One such event was depicted by William Hogarth in his satirical print, The Idle 'Prentice Executed at Tyburn (1747).
"Tyburn was commonly invoked in euphemisms for capital punishment—for instance, to "take a ride to Tyburn" (or simply "go west") was to go to one's hanging, "Lord of the Manor of Tyburn" was the public hangman, "dancing the Tyburn jig" was the act of being hanged, and so on. Convicts would be transported to the site in an open ox-cart from Newgate Prison. They were expected to put on a good show, wearing their finest clothes and going to their deaths with insouciance. The crowd would cheer a "good dying", but would jeer any displays of weakness on the part of the condemned."
Hence, a "Tyburn widow" was a woman widowed by the execution of her husband. In this case, however, Mrs. Gorgandy was a woman who only pretended to be the widow so that she cd claim the body & then sell it to anatomists. One might say an opportunist of a particularly nasty sort who sets the mood of this bk very well. This is a bk for Young Adults?! Ok, there's no sex in it, only murder & exploitation so it's 'ok'. Sheesh. But, HEY!, the writing's great:
"He went to the fireplace, in which there was a pile of ashes—as if a large family had burned their secrets there before going upstairs to hang themselves in a group. He looked up, and discovered the chimney partially blocked by a fall of bricks, two of which so resembled the soles of boots that Dorking wondered if some previous apprentice had tried to escape that way and failed."
"Not that a dead man frightened him much. He came from Shoreham and drowned men washed up on the beach with the sea's general air of "Is this yours? I don't want it," had made him familiar enough with corpses of all sizes and conditions." - p 9
"Anxious, inquisitive faces . . . There was Mrs. Arbuthnot, neatly shawled, never took by surprise—to the aggravation of other ladies whose hair was in as many twisted papers as a lawyer's account." - p 114
"Already the sun was deep and bloody and had a deathbed droop. All the glasses and tankards and walls in the Angel's parlor were touched with its scarlet, and the shadows seemed as deep as gaping rents in the ground." - p 166
Perhaps the detail that's stuck in my memory the most is that of a bent spoon in the throat as protection against suffocation from hanging. Ya never know when such a thing might come in handy someday:
"With infinite caution—and dreading that, if he made an ill-judged move the ruffian would snap his hand off at the wrist—he drew out a bent silver tube some half an inch wide and four inches long.
"This tube had been the cause of Black Jack's outliving Mr. Ketch's rope. He'd wedged it in his throat as a preventative against strangulation." - p 14
Note that I wrote "spoon" but that the story has it as "tube". I reckon it was a spoon in the movie—at least that's the way I remember it. Maybe Loach was being more historically accurate. A tube seems like it wd work better but a spoon might've been more available. Wd a prisoner have metal cutlery for their last meal these days? Or wd it be plastic? Woe be it unto the world when plastic was invented.
When I think of the name "Black Jack" I think of a song performed by The Incredible String Band named "Black Jack Davy" about a hedonistic free outlaw. Then, of course, there's the card game. This Black Jack is one nasty tough character. I don't recall that being stressed much in the movie.
"Black Jack's health and strength seemed to have but a single aim: robbery and murder whenever a living soul crossed his shaking path.
""You're milk, Tolly—skimmed milk!" he sneered at the boy's pleading for the life of a farmer who rode, unsuspecting by." - p 31
Perhaps an aspect of this being a YA novel is that the youth, virtually defenseless against Black Jack's strength & ferocity, successfully acts as an ameliorating factor.
B/c of the authenticity of the accents in the movie, I cdn't understand much of what was sd — esp when it was fast. That was one of the reasons why I wanted to read the bk — so that I cd understand passages like this:
""D'you see it?" she whispered.
""A tall black tower with a golden top—higher than the sky. There are white angels flying with white wings. And all the world's singing a lullaby—for the sun's gone to bed in a blanket. D'you see it now?"" - p 45
W/o catching all the words in the movie, I understood the gist of it. It was sad to see the girl written off as crazy when she was speaking fancifully & w/ imagination. Some of the detail of the bk was 'inevitably' missing from the movie — yet another reason for reading:
""Polly put the kettle on!" said Mrs. Mitchell. Whereupon the wretched creature nodded, crawled to her feet and hobbled to the black grate, carefully holding a kettle none but she could see." - p 84
"["]Oh, now you spilled it! And on poor Polly!"
"At once, Polly let out a great howl of distress and clutched her leg." - p 85
""And the shawl, sir," said Htach respectfully. "She sets great store by it, y'know. I only fetched it to show me Bony-Fridays, after all!"" - p 107
Now it was obvious to me that "Bony-Fridays" was either rhyming slang for or a mispronunciation of bona fides: in this case proof of knowledge of the missing girl's whereabouts. However, looking for "Bony Fridays" on the great oracle produced nothing of the kind — nor is it in either of my 2 rhyming slang dictionaries — nor was it found in an online Cockney Rhyming Slang dictionary ( http://aldertons.com/home/slang/ ). From wch I conclude that mispronunciation is what's hinted at but it's possible that Garfield had better knowledge of rhyming slang.
The story has a happy ending, despite being generally morbid. The hero prevails & vows to watch over his health out of love for another:
"Or worse still; what would become of her if he should die first? He shivered and determined to keep in health, avoid all quarrels and never approach a horse from behind." - p 143
I probably wd've loved this as a kid — even tho the last thing I needed was more food for melancholy. Instead I got to love it as an adult — including its highly impractical romanticism, easily recogniziable as akin to my own. ...more
Notes are private!
Oct 03, 2018
Nov 08, 2018
Dec 11, 2012
Evelyn Waugh's A Handful of Dust
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - July 19, 2018
This is the 4th Waugh novel I've read. I've been reading them review of
Evelyn Waugh's A Handful of Dust
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - July 19, 2018
This is the 4th Waugh novel I've read. I've been reading them in chronological order so I started w/ Decline and Fall ( https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... ), then Vile Bodies ( https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... ), & lastly Black Mischief ( https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... ).
At 1st, I thought he was very witty & a fluid writer. But by this 4th one I started getting sick of the recurring pattern of suffering in his characters. In Decline and Fall the main character Paul Pennyfeather is a bit naive & generally good-natured. He gets used ruthlessly & gets framed & put in prison. A child dies. In Vile Bodies the author character, presumably a surrogate for Waugh, Adam Fenwick-Symes, gets dumped by his fiancé. Agatha Runcible, a likeable character, dies ina completely stupid accident. In Black Mischief an air-headed but likeable Prudence dies a horrible death. In A Handful of Dust Tony Last's wife leaves him & exhibits completely shallow selfish behavior that leads to the ruination of his life. A child dies. There's alotof shallowness in Waugh's characters. Everyone moves on from the tragedies around them w/ insensitive ease.
The epigraph lets the reader know that the title comes from a line of T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land: "I will show you fear in a handful of dust." (p v). It's unclear to me what that means in relation to this bk.
Waugh's wit revolves largely around subtly revealing venal characteristics:
""Mr. Beaver, sir, there's ten shillings against you in my books for last month."
""Ah, thank you, Macdougal, remind me sometimes, will you?"" - p 9
In other words, Beaver, having already accumulated debt by postponing paying is continuing to accumulate debt by postponing paying by acting as if he's addressing it by asking to be reminded when he's in the process of being reminded. Clever, eh? In a nauseating way. A friend of mine had a grandfather who had a garage in the area where one of the wealthiest families lived. His grandfather died. Upon examination of his garage's papers it was discovered that the wealthy family had a slew of IOUs there.
The maladventure of this bk begins when Beaver is haphazardly invited to visit Tony Last at his mansion. Discussing the impending visit w/ his wife, Brenda, she suggests putting him in the most uncomfortable guest bedroom:
"["]Anyway he can go into Galahad. No one who sleeps there ever comes again—the bed's agony I believe." - p 27
"Further down the passage Beaver examined his room with the care of an experienced guest. There was no reading lamp. The ink pot was dry. The fire had been lit but had gone out. The bathroom, he had already discovered, was a great distance away, up a flight of turret steps. He did not at all like the look or feel of the bed; the springs were broken in the cneter and it creaked ominously when he lay down to try it. The return ticket, third class, had been eighteen shillings. Then there would be tips." - p 31
Even though I'd wearied of Waugh's humor-in-wch-characters-suffer by now there were still parts that I enjoyed: the former military vicar who'd 'served' in India giving the same sermons he'd given there even though he was back in England are a good example:
"The vicar preached his usual Christman sermon. It was one to which the parishioners were greatly attached.
""How difficult it is for us," he began, blandly surveying his congregation, who coughed into their mufflers and chafed their chilblains under their woolen gloves, "to realize that this is indeed Chrsitmas. Instead of the glowing log fire and windows tight shuttered againsthe drifting snow, we have only the harsh glare of an alien sun; instead of the happy circle of loved faces, of home and family, we have the uncomprehending stares of the subjugated, though no doubt grateful, heathen. Instead of the placid ox and ass of Bethlehem," said the vicar, slgihtly losing the thread of his comparisons, "we have for companions the ravening tiger and the exotic camel, the furtive jackal and the ponderous elephant..." And so on, through the pages of faded manuscript." - pp 70-71
W/o giving away too much of the plot let's just say that along the way a melodramatic former princess appears:
""John...dead. It's too horrible."
""It wasn't anybody's fault."
""Oh yes," said Jenny. "It was. It was my fault. I ought never to have gone there...a terrible curse hangs over me. Wherever I go I bring nothing but sorrow...if only it was I that was dead...I shall never be able to face them again. I feel like a murderess...that brave little life snuffed out."" - p 139
Well, our boy Tony goes to South America to get away from his scheming shallow wife:
"The first stage of the journey was over. For ten days thay had been chugging upstream in a broad, shallow boat. Once or twice they had passed rapids (there the outboard engine had been reinforced by paddles; the men strained in time to teh captain's count; the bo'sun stood in the bows with a long pole warding them off the rocks). They had camped at sundown on patches of sandbank or in clearings cut from the surrounding bush. Once or twice they came toa "house" left behind by balata bleeders or gold washers." - p 207
People who aren't accustomed to jungle might want to think twice about casually going there:
"At sunset the cabouri fly disappeared. Until then, through the day, it was necessary to keep covered; they settled on any exposed flesh like house flies upon jam; it was only when they were gorged that their bite was perceptible; they left behind a crimson, smarting circle with a black dot at the center. Tony and Dr. Messinger wore cotton gloves which they had brought for the purpose, and muslin veils, hanging down under their hats. Later they employed two women to squat beside their hammocks and fan them with leafy boughs; the slightest breeze was enought to disperse the flies, but as soon as Tony and Dr. Messinger dozed the women would lay aside their work, and they woke instantly, stung in a hundred places. The Indians bore the insects as cows bear horse-flies; passively with occasional fretful outbursts when they would slap their shoulders and thighs." - p 224
Well.. one thing leads to another & the next thing ya know the world's become a bit, ahem, unreal:
""Order," said the Mayor. "I must ask you gnetlemen to confine your remakrs to the subject under discussion. We have to decide about the widening of the Bayton-Pigstanton road. There have been several complaints that it's impossible for the Green Line buses to turn the corner safely at Hetton Cross."
""Green Line rats."
""I said Green Line rats. Mechanical green line rats. Many of the villagers have been scared by them and have evacuated their cottages."" - p 247
""It has been hard to keep out the worms and ants. Two are practically destroyed. But there is an oil the Indians makes that is useful."
"He unwrapped the nearest parcel and handed down a calf-bound book. It was an early American edition of Bleak House." - p 258
All in all, this was clever. Bravo! Bully! But I mainly found it depressing. The most venal people lead the best lives. To hell w/ that. ...more
Notes are private!
Jul 11, 2018
Jul 20, 2018
May 05, 2009
Feb 03, 2009
it was amazing
Josh Alan Friedman's Black Cracker
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - July 10, 2018
Read the full review here: https://www.goodreads.com/story/ review of
Josh Alan Friedman's Black Cracker
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - July 10, 2018
Read the full review here: https://www.goodreads.com/story/show/...
I got this bk b/c John Arnold of Phelgm's corner sent me a copy after I expressed interest in it. Coincidentally, it's signed. It's about Friedman being the only 'white' kid in attendance at an otherwise all-black school in New York. There are times when Friedman has his mother accuse him of being an exaggerator. The reader doesn't know whether he's exaggerating or not. There's the description of the white racist mom chasing him w/ a pitchfork. Was that exaggerated? Maybe it was just a salad fork. There's the time where he describes black women lynching him — but not quite enuf to kill him. Was that exaggerated? Maybe they just threatened him. I tend to believe it's all true.
Friedman is a musician too & there's a list of his other bks & of his "albums" (when that word's used I tend to think of vinyl records but it might not mean that);
TELL THE TRUTH UNTIL THEY BLEED
I, GOLDSTEIN: MY SCREWED LIFE (with Al Goldstein)
NOW DIG THIS: THE UNSPEAKABLE WRITINGS OF TERRY SOUTHERN (co-editor, with Nile Southern)
WHEN SEX WAS DIRTY
WARTS AND ALL (with Drew Friedman)
TALES OF TIMES SQUARE
ANY SIMILARITY TO PERSONS LIVING OR DEAD IS PURELY COINCIDENTAL (with Drew Friedman)
FAMOUS & POOR
BLACKS 'N' JEWS
JOSH ALAN BAND"
Much of the above interested me. When I was a teenager & I sideswiped social scenes w/ a hardcore group of older 'hippies' one of whom was called "Trick". I remember that they liked Screw magazine, the raunchiest hard-core sex magazine I'd ever seen. They also liked the band Fleetwood Mac who I thought were completely uninteresting so I didn't respect their musical opinions much. Al Goldstein, Screw's editor, was always a bit too much for me. Still, his extremeness held some fascination.
Terry Southern cowrote Candy, a sort of modernized version of de Sade's Justine, wch I never read but I thought the film was fairly funny. Drew Friedman is Josh Alan's younger brother, who's a cartoonist, & I've seen his work & liked it so I like that connection. Judging by the titles & what little I know of what they imply (e.g.: Times Square was a notorious commercial sex district), sex seems to be a major subject. It wasn't in Black Cracker.
The 1st paragraph of the "Prologue" is:
"I returned to Glen Cove after thirty-five years. My family moved away when I was ten in 1966. From first through fourth grade, I attended South, the last segregated colored school on Long Island. I was the only white kid. Four years—an eternity to a kid—of readin', 'ritin' and 'rithmetic. Then we moved close to New York City and get away from South School. It closed anyway after the 1966 school year." - p 3
On this return trip, he inquired about his old friends from elementary school, the ones we read about when the bk enters its post-Prologue chronological stage.
"A wino loitered around the sidewalk where Bobo's shack once stood. I might have been a bounty hunter or private eye for all he knew. He grew less suspicious when I told him I went to South School back in the day.
""Bobo Monk?" I asked.
""Narcotics," said the wino. More than ten years ago.
""He dead, too. Narcotics. Same time as Bobo."
""He in prison down in Florida, for life."" - p 5
I like Friedman's writing, it's playful, it's personal, it doesn't reek too much of 'I-was-taught-to-write-this-way'.
"And then all hell broke loose. Once-innocuous images of Black folklore, from the days when Southern aristocrats believed in the marked superiority of colored cooks: Here come Rastus up the middle, aka Mr. Cream of Wheat, having clawed out of the slave burial ground, with his red bow tie and puffy white chef's hat; kindly old Uncle Ben, escaped from the rice plantation, marching like a zombie; and everybody's favorite, Hecha Momma (Aunt Jemima), waddling behind, from pancake box to corporate fox, batting her spatula at my head." - p 6
Or how about this?: "Boy's inhumanity to boy." (p 42) It might not seem like much. it's 'just' a variation on the common phrase 'Man's inhumanity to man.' Still, little tweaks like that defamiliarize the familiar just enuf to make it interesting.
The Wilshire family are Friedman's exemplary white racist family. Still, while they persecute him for being Jewish & for going to the black school & having black friends he still manages to have an uneasy friendship w/ them from time-to-time.
""Hey, Whitey, you really got 'em?" asked one of the greasers.
""Yeah, I got 'em," said Whitey Wilshire, opening the truck of his jalopy. The greasers were more excited than he was. He reached into a green duffel bag and brought out a cache of fireworks called Nigger Chasers. Each package had a caricature of a bug-eyed darkie on the run, hair a-frazzle, a puff of smoke bursting after his airborne ass. A cartoon balloon said the usual Feets do yo' stuff.
"It seemed odd that anybody would manufacture a product specifically designed to chase off colored people. Maybe it was a package from long ago. Everyone knew fireworks came in on slow boats from China, stocked "under the counter" at Chinese laundries. They were illegal in New York. But in China, they'd never set eyes on Negroes, only heard of their legend, like dragons. Nigger chasers were like that exotic Asian toothpaste called Darkie, with the grinning minstrel on the box." - p 24
I'm glad those never made it to the neighborhood where I grew up.
The author is a few yrs younger than me but we're still close enuf in age for us to share some growing-up things in common. One of them is Famous Monsters of Filmland & the related monster model kits that I assembled as a child.
"The car puttered along past Vic's candy store, where my father got his newspapers and cigars, and I got my monthly copy of Famous Monsters. The arrival of each new issue, hot off the press, was one of the great thrills in life." - p 25
"My ideas on death stemmed from pictures I saw in my favorite magazine, Famous Monsters of Filmland. But they never portrayed the grim reaper as a big fat colored lady. The two of them who led this death march were scarier than Dracula or Frankenstein—whom I secretly believed were my guardian angels. But neither had yet come to my rescue. Real monsters roamed the earth. The lady who tied my hands behind my back snorted like a rhino through her massive nostrils. They pulled the rope up as high as they could around the branch, which lifted me off the ground . . . but just barely." - p 53
Anti-semitism has never really made any sense to me. Why not pick on the Mormons or the Jehovah's Witnesses? I'm not saying people shd pick on them either, I just mean why the fucking Jews all the time?! It's an obsession for some people. No doubt there have been some Jews at some time or another who've been assholes — but show me any group that doesn't have some assholes & I'll show you what a deluded person you are.
""Drew-the-Jew, Drew-the-Jew, how do you do?" asked the oldest kid, shaking hands with my brother. Drew was clueless as to why his religion, which he knew nothing about, was foremost on their minds." - p 222
"As a token of farewell, the greaser who invited me to hang out put his face up to mine:
"A Jew ain't nothin' but a nigger turned inside out."" - p 28
Does that mean that Blacula turned inside out is Jewula? Sounds messy. What does Jewula do to a victim? Rub bile all over them?
"By the end of my first year at school, I naturally developed the same speech as my friends. It disappeared before white people. My parents never seemed to detect it. Most of the time, maybe as a survival tactic, I believed I was a colored kid.
""He a white nigger," Bobo and Jeffrey would explain upon introducing me to wary relatives.
""He don't look like no nigger to me. You sure?"
""Yeah, ah'm sure. He just got light skin."" - p 31
It gets complicated doesn't it? I mean, what if Jewula were about to rub bile over the white nigger Jew & the intended victim were to suddenly turn inside out in some sort of self-protection instinct? Wd he be a high yeller w/ some kind of lemon flavor like those horrible freshener things? Wd Jewula's bile turn on itself in an attempt to flee being rendered lovely smelling?
"The term "Black" was a racial insult, and if muttered by a white cracker, them was fightin' words. Any colored kid that wanted to learn had someone—older brother, paroled uncle or mother—to teach him to fight." - p 39
I find that a bit confusing b/c we're talking 1963-1966 or thereabouts & at that time there were the Black Muslims, there was the popular slogan "Black is Beautiful", there was the Black Panther Party (ok, that wasn't founded until October, 1966).. The point is the term "black" was used in connection w/ "Black Power" by black radicals &, in my experience of it, it was a very powerful positive identity politics force. I'm not saying that Friedman is wrong about what was happening in his area, I'm just saying that I wdn't generalize beyond the local.
"A few years later, when the same liberal friend had a daughter, she was put in a Skinner Box—a radical experiment devised by behaviorist B.F. Skinner, wherein the newborn child spent her first year in an isolated box, protected from germs, society and her parents' loving touch—not to mention Negroes." - p 47
"An operant conditioning chamber (also known as the Skinner box) is a laboratory apparatus used to study animal behavior. The operant conditioning chamber was created by B. F. Skinner while he was a graduate student at Harvard University."
"An operant conditioning chamber permits experimenters to study behavior conditioning (training) by teaching a subject animal to perform certain actions (like pressing a lever) in response to specific stimuli, such as a light or sound signal. When the subject correctly performs the behavior, the chamber mechanism delivers food or another reward."
"An urban legend spread concerning Skinner putting his daughter through an experiment such as this, causing great controversy. His daughter later debunked this."
In other words, I doubt the veracity of Friedman's story here. It's sensational but unlikely. I don't think that even a behaviorist wd seriously suggest keeping a child in a box of any kind for an entire yr. The child wd most likely die. Nor was the purpose of the Operant Conditioning Chamber to keep children from germs or Negros, etc.
I have a friend who claimed that he was put in a Skinner Box as a kid but I recall him describing it as a crib w/ various dangling things meant to stimulate his perceptions & motor coordination. Perhaps this is what Friedman is referring to w/o realizing it.
Leading up to the lynching story partially quoted from above is the beginning of it where Friedman's friend Jeffrey tries to take him home & is rc'vd in a less-than-enthusiastic way:
""Just a minute, Mr. White Cracka! Where the hell do you think you is goan?" All the colored women took notice, and I froze under their haughty gaze.
""He wid me," said Jeffrey.
"The woman who had been lecturing the mob stood up. "Why you bringin' this white shit over here Jeffy, ah'm surprised at 'chu!"
""Momma, it's okay cause he mah fren," came Jeffrey. "Besides, he really one of us, he a white nigger."" - p 50
That was the mid '60s. I'm not sure things were that different by the mid '80s. In the early to mid '80s I spent a fair amt of time wandering the streets of BalTimOre late at night, sometimes spraypainting graffiti. One of my companions was a young black guy who was also a graffitist of the tagger variety. I remember one time we went into the Club Charles together, a favorite bar of John Waters's, only to be shown the door immediately b/c we were so obviously poor AND b/c, HEY!, it was a black guy & a white guy together. Late one night my friend took me back to where he lived w/ his grandmother but he cautioned me to "be really quiet. My grandma hates white people." I think we probably both sortof thought that was funny in a sick way b/c we saw the same ole same ole hopeless shit everywhere we looked.
Another thing that Friedman & I share, other than Famous Monsters of Filmland, is the beauty parlor & the beehive:
"Seated across the room was her best friend, Lu. Lu had arrived from a big afternoon at the beauty parlor—the most exciting event in her life. Her hair was in a fresh beehive." - p 79
My mom has been going to the beauty parlor every friday for as long as I can remember to get her beehive reinforced. My bedrm was across the hall from the bathrm when I was a kid & my mom sprayed hairspray to keep her beehive immobile. It seemed like she spent 20 to 40 minutes every day spraying. How anyone cd do that w/o brain damage is beyond me. Then I wdn't make the claim that there wasn't brain damage involved — but I won't go there. We had a convertible but we cdn't put the lid down partially b/c her hair might get mussed, we went to the ocean but she didn't swim b/c her hair might get mussed. To this day, I make the bold claim that the expense of maintaining her hair was always a higher budgetary priority than the kids. For a certain type of woman, the beauty parolor & beehives are crucial. Think a deromanticized Bride of Frankenstein.
Friedman is, obviously, a writer & he's a writer who does writerly things like interject chapters into the narrative that change the pace a bit so it doesn't get boring. On page 92 there's a chapter entitled "19. Things I Believed as a Child:
"That when the emergence of color TV was ballyhooed in the early '60s, I literally thought it meant colored TV—some new television set that just broadcast Negroes. When I discovered this wasn't the case, I was gravely disappointed.
"That Mick Jagger was Alfalfa of The LIttle Rascals, all grown up."
My color TV was broken so I thought it was some new television set that just broadcast Martians.
Another thing that Friedman's youth & mine have in common is snow:
"The birth of Jesus had an enchanting, warm glow, with a string of light bulbs across the snow—and we did get snow every Christmas. The display helped guide Santa Claus to our hamlet. Being secular, we only celebrated Christmas." - p 93
Wd my life be totally different now if, as a Christian, I'd only celebrated Chanukah? I think that might just be the recipé for WORLD PEACE. Everybody just celebrates Chanukah no matter what religion they are. All the children assemble models of Jewula helping little old ladies across the superhighway during rush hr. No more bile. Anyway, I'm glad that somebody else remembers that once upon a time in mid USA (i.e.: BalTimOre & New York) there was snow every Christmas. All of my younger friends think I'm just making that up & twirl their fingers around their foreheads when they think I'm not looking. I'll get them. Friedman & I also share a list of the essential belongings in case of a nuclear attack. I'm told this is called a "bugout bag" by "Preppers" — who apparently aren't the same thing as "Preppies".
"Stuff that you could use. Whoopee cushions, handshake buzzers, severed rubber fingers, masks, Aurora monster models (which, combined with Testors Glue, will probably stay together for centuries), and a perennial favorite: plastic vomit. The package said "Oops!" on the outside. Fortified with plastic vomit, I thought I could take over the world." - p 118
I'll be laughing out the other side of my face (the only side I'll have left) after the nuclear attack happens. The thing is, if wars were fought with Aurora monster models & plastic vomit we wdn't have to worry about nuclear attack. Life cd be so simple.
Remember Jim Crow? People can be such morons:
"Books shall not be interchangeable between the white and colored schools, but shall continue to be used by the race first using them. . . . The state librarian is directed to fit up and maintain a separate place for the use of the colored people who may come to the library for the purpose fo reading books or periodicals." - p 124
At the nursery school I went to the precocious kids didn't see anything written about sharing condoms so we figured that was ok.
Friedman takes the train into the BIG CITY:
"But the route offered glimpses of Long Island's "Gold Coast" of the Gilded Age, where 19th century robber barons built thousand-acre estates. American castles hidden in wooded regions of Glen Cove. They were now abandoned ruins, historical parks or private schools.
"The Gold Coast was the polar opposite of Glen Cove's colored section. Fantastical mansions built by F.W. Woolworth, the DuPonts, and seven Pratt family estates, hiers of Standard Oil." - p 136
The public library in BalTimOre, where I worked long ago, was the Enoch Pratt Free Library. What I wonder is: if Jim Crow laws still existed, wd Black Cracker be allowed in both the colored & the colorless schools? Deciding that might just be the straw that broke the conscientious racist's mind.
"Pomade-haired young colored ladies in white frocks beckoned from behind the Nedick's hot-dog counter. They made surreptitious appoinments with Long Island Rail Road commuters. Balding white men in starched shirts and ties sweated profusely as they arranged illicit rendezvous with the colored hot-dog waitresses. The counter ladies were hookers. And smiling broadly in a Nedick's hot-dog cap nehind the counter, like a Pullman porter at your service, was the young actor-to-be, Morgan Freeman, his first job fresh from Mississippi. This I was to learn many years later, but the face was unforgettable." - pp 140-141
"I want a hot-do for my roll, I want it hot I don't want it cold. It must have lots of mustard.." - Butterbeans & Susie
The trip into the BIG CITY was so that Friedman & a friend cd make a little cash as shoe-shiners, a profession traditionally occupied by blacks only. Friedman's account of his encounter that day w/ the Nation of Islam might be filed under 'suspected-of-exaggeration' or 'too-good-to-be-true' but I tend to believe it (call me naive or irresponsible or something):
""Our people in the shoe shine business are nothing but rejected and despised members of the so-called Negro race," said the robotic man.
""Up, you mighty race!" chanted one of the men.
""Now, you want a shine or not?" interrupted Mr. Shuggs. "Otherwise, take yo' damn feets off dat stool, and move yo' Honorable Elijah ass on outta here. Goddamnit, we workin'."
"The men took one long hard look at him, then turned to leave. "Brother Malcolm," said one bow-tie man to another, as they marched off in formation, "I think you failed to persuade him."" - p 147
Read the full review here: https://www.goodreads.com/story/show/... ...more
Notes are private!
Jun 18, 2018
Jul 12, 2018
Dec 11, 2012
it was amazing
Evelyn Waugh's Vile Bodies
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - January 16-17, 2018
I've already written a review of Waugh's Decline and Fall ( h review of
Evelyn Waugh's Vile Bodies
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - January 16-17, 2018
I've already written a review of Waugh's Decline and Fall ( https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... ), which I enjoyed. I'll probably read 9 bks by Waugh, since that's how many I've got here, Vile Bodies being the 2nd. Apparently this was the 'hit' that 'launched' his career. I'm 'enthusiastic' about it too, it's far from the most esoteric thing I've ever read but, WTF?, that's ok, it was still good.
In Waugh's 1964 Preface he started off w/:
"This was a totally unplanned novel. I had the facility at the age of twnety-five to sit down at my table, set a few characters on the move, write 3,000 words a day, and note with surprise what happened. The composition of Vile Bodies was interrupted by a sharp disturbance in my private life and was finished in a very different mood from that in which it was begun. The reader may, perhaps, notice the transition from gaiety to bitterness." - p VII
After reading that, I forgot about it & I didn't really "notice the transition from gaiety to bitterness" but there was some sadness that seemed 'real' w/o being welcome. "There were not many comic writers at that time and I filled a gap. I began under the brief influence of Ronald Firbank but struck out for myself." (p VIII) Doncha just love it when people acknowledge their lucky breaks? Imagine this: 'My family was wealthy & had major connections in the publishing world so my 1st bks were bound to be published & promoted so I just took off from there' - I haven't read that one yet but maybe someday.
Ronald Firbank? Never heard of 'im: "Arthur Annesley Ronald Firbank (17 January 1886 – 21 May 1926) was an innovative English novelist. His eight short novels, partly inspired by the London aesthetes of the 1890s, especially Oscar Wilde, consist largely of dialogue, with references to religion, social-climbing, and sexuality." ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ronald_... ) I'l be looking for his work at my local subterranean paperbook room. He only made it to 40. Let's hope he had a good time.
But let's start off w/ a joke, shall we? Have you heard the one about the Yuppie, the Lawyer's child, the Leper, & the Noise Musician who had to share a bathroom at the Aberdeen Proving Ground? Neither have I. They all had Anthrax but it didn't prove anything. How about ""There was a man lived at Aberdeen, and he was terribly keen on fishing, so when he married, he married a woman with worms. That's rich, eh? You see he was keen on fishing, see, and she had worms, see, he lived in Aberdeen. That's a good one that is."" (p 15)
The main male character, easily enuf perceived as a surrogate for the author, is coming back from Paris to England after having written a bk there & gets stopped by Customs:
"One by one he took the books out and piled them on the counter. A copy of Dante excited his especial disgust.
""French, eh?" he said. "I guessed as much, and pretty dirty, too, I shouldn't wonder. Now just you wait while I look up there here books"—"in my list. Particularly against books the Home Secretary is. If we can't stamp out literature in the country, we can at least stops its being brought in from outside.["]" - p 24
Have you ever been harrassed at Customs by someone seemingly completely ignorant? By someone who's managed to get into a position of power that they then proceed to abuse in accordance w/ their ignorance? I have. I imagine any creative person has. A part of the humor of the above is that the Customs official calls Dante "French" instead of Italian. Given that Dante is arguably the most famous Italian poet the official's non-recognition of his name shows his level of illiteracy. I was entering England from France once & carrying films of mine. The Customs official leeringly asked if they were "Art Films", a term he appeared to be using in an insulting way. In this novel, the writer character's financial troubles begin here. A part of this is that he has to renogociate his publisher's contract.
""May I just see the terms?"
""Of course, my dear fellow. They look a bit hard at first, I know, but it's our usual form. We made a very special case for you, you know. It's very simple. No royalty on the first two thousand, then a royalty of two and a half percent, rising to five percent on the tenth thousand. We retain serial, cinema, dramatic, American, Colonial and translation rights, of course. And, of course, an option on your next twelve books on the same terms.["]" - p 36
In other words, instead of royalties he gets a royal screw job. While Waugh is probably exaggerating any bad experiences he may've had, he might be exaggerating less than one might think. I had a contract w/ a publisher once. I signed it. I pointed out to the publisher that they hadn't met a single one of their terms. One of the publishers replied that that was because they hadn't signed the contract! Neat, eh?! They give ME a contract to sign that protects them but then they don't sign it so that they're not culpable.
According to Waugh's 1964 Preface, "There was also a pretty accurate description of Mrs. Rosa Lewis" [ "Lottie" apparently] "and her Cavendish Hotel" (p VIII):
"She led Adam into the parlor, where they found several men, none of whom Adam had ever seen before.
""You all know Lord Thingummy, don't you?" said Lottie.
""Mr. Symes," said Adam.
""Yes, dear, that's what I said. Bless you, I knew you before you were born. How's your father? Not dead, is he?"
""Yes, I'm afraid he is."
""Well, I never, I could tell you some things about him. Now let me introduce you—that's Mr. What's-his-name, you remember him, don't you? And over there in the corner, that's the Major, and there's Mr. What-d'you-call-him, and that's an American, and there's the King of Ruritania."" - p 44
The "Bright Young People" who're the main focus of the bk are followed around by gossip columnists who aren't particularly beholden to any accuracy of reporting as long as they can get away w/ it otherwise.
"At Archie Schwert's party, the fifteenth Marquess of Vanburgh, Earl Vanburgh de Brendon, Baron Brendon, Lord of the Five Isles and Hereditary Grand Falconer to the Kingdom of Connaught, said to the eighth Earl of Balcairn, Viscount Erdinge, Baron Cairn of Balcairn, Red Knight of Lancaster, Count of the Holy Roman Empire and Chenonceaux Herald to the Duchy of Aquitaine, "Hullo," he said. "Isn't this a repulsive party? What are you going to say about it?" for they were both of them, as it happened, gossip writers for the daily papers." - p 59
Are there any gossip columnists that aren't assholes? I doubt it. My father was one & he was an asshole. Consider this: "The first gossip columnist, dominating the 1930s and 40s, was Walter Winchell, who used political, entertainment, and social connections to mine information and rumors, which he then either published in his column On Broadway, or used for trade or blackmail, to accumulate more power. He became "the most feared journalist" of his era." ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gossip_... ) I was written about in a German magazine once by someone who didn't see fit to actually quote me more than once or twice in his whole article even though he'd 'interviewed' me. Why? B/c he kept trying to get me to talk about subjects that I wasn't interested in & I refused to do so. He was furious at his inability to manipulate me into saying what he wanted to 'quote'. He then used a full-page image of Freddy Kruger as 'my' picture. It was one of the only times of my life when I felt like I was a Hollywood movie star being stalked by a gossip & then being abused in print for my 'celebrity' sales potential.
Parties are central here & they're of the ilk that involve invitations - of wch "there was the sort that Johnnie Hoop used to adapt from Blast and Marinetti's Futurist Manifesto. These had two columns of close print; in one was a list of all the things Johnnie hated, and in the other all the things he thought he liked." (footnote, p 62) Those wd be collector's items for me. " Blast was the short-lived literary magazine of the Vorticist movement in Britain. Two editions were published: the first on 2 July 1914 (dated 20 June 1914, but publication was delayed) and published with a bright pink cover, referred to by Ezra Pound as the "great MAGENTA cover'd opusculus"; and the second a year later on 15 July 1915. Both editions were written primarily by Wyndham Lewis. The magazine is emblematic of the modern art movement in England, and recognised as a seminal text of pre-war 20th-century modernism." ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blast_(... ) For those of you not familiar w/ Lewis, I've written a review of his novel The Childermass here: https://www.goodreads.com/story/show/... .
One of my favorite scenes in the novel is one in wch The Bright Young Partiers spontaneously go to the home of one of their lesser-noticed members for a late-nite continuation. The next morning, one of those remaining reads about it in a gossip column w/o initially realizing where she'd ended up:
"" 'Midnight Orgies at No. 10.' My dear, isn't that divine? Listen, 'What must be the most extraordinary party of the little season took place in the small hours of this morning at No. 10 Downing Street. At about 4 a.m. the policemen who're always posted outside the Prime Minister's residence were surprised to witness'—Isn't this too amusing—'the arrival of a fleet of taxis, from which emerged a gay throng in exotic evening dress'—How I should have loved to have seen it. Can't you imagine what they were like?["]" - p 71
OOPSIE! Imagine partying in Washington DC & going to somebody's house & passing out & waking up the next morning to a White House Tour in progress. That hasn't happened to me.. & I don't think I'd want it to. Even worse might be to have sex w/ someone that you're engaged to for the 1st time only to have yr partner say: ""All this fuss about sleeping together. For physical pleasure I'd sooner go to my dentist any day."" (p 111) OUCH!
"(...Masked parties. Savage parties. Victorian parties, Greek parties, Wild West parties, Russian parties, Circus parties, parties where one had to dress as somebody else, almost naked parties in St. John's Wood, parties in flats and studios and houses and ships and hotels and night clubs, in windmills and swimming-baths" - p 135
Now we're talking. What about a "One Word per Person Party"?: https://youtu.be/cvgoTPwwCog As long as they're not parties w/ dress codes.
"Adam and Miss Runcible and Miles and Archie Schwert went up to the races in Archie Schwert's car. It was a long and cold drive. Miss Runcible wore trousers and Miles touched up his eyelashes in the dining room of the hotel where they stopped for luncheon. So they were asked to leave. At the next hotel they made Miss Runcible stay outside, and brought her cold lamb and pickles to the car." - p 193
Remember those days? I'm sure they still exist in many places but all the people who have tattoos & piercings now would've been turned away from most places 30 yrs ago. It happened to me many times. I personally claim responsibility for being a sort of human ice-breaker, breaking thru the matephorical frost in the chilly social climate. Waugh is what ya might call a 'keen social observer' if you don't mind using a well-worn phrase now & then. OR, one cd call him a 'Kleenex Slop Remover', like I might, & confuse just about everyone w/ the obliqueness of the joke.
"The effects of their drinks had now entered on that secondary stage, vividly described in temperance handbooks, when the momentary illusion of well-being and exhilaration gives place to melancholy, indeigestion and moral decay." - p 224
That almost sums up the whole bk. Who'd-uh thunk that Waugh got his ideas from a temperance handbook? Yes, Waugh's mood does change:
"Presently he became aware of a figure approaching, painfully picking his way among the strands of barbed wire which staryed across the ground like drfiting cobweb; a soldier clearly. As he came nearer Adam saw that he was leveling towards him s liquid-fire projector. Adam tightened his fingers about his Huxdane-Halley bomb (for the dissemination of leprosy germs), and in this posture of mutual suspicion they met. Through the dusk Adam recognized the uniform of an English staff officer. He put the bomb back in his pocket and saluted." - p 285
I'm going to join the crowd w/ this one & say it's great. It even foreshadows Flann O'Brien to a certain extent. I hope no-one decides to assassinate me for that one. I still like O'Brien better but I have 7 more Waugh bks I plan to read. Who knows what might happen?! ...more
Notes are private!
Jan 13, 2018
Jan 17, 2018
Dec 11, 2012
really liked it
Evelyn Waugh's Decline and Fall
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - January 7, 2018
Evelyn Waugh has probably been floating around on the fringe review of
Evelyn Waugh's Decline and Fall
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - January 7, 2018
Evelyn Waugh has probably been floating around on the fringes of my consciousness as someone witty to read for many a decade (sorry to leave you hanging Evelyn) but it took my buying 9 hardbacks of his work (from Copacetic, plug, plug) w/ the intent of having a Waugh spree to finally get me started. Even then, it's taken me 2 yrs.
Decline and Fall is his 2nd bk, a biography of Dante Gabriel Rossetti preceded it in 1928. It seems that he's most well-known for his satires & that the biographies & travel bks are a bit brushed under the toupée. Having now read a satire & been impressed by its style I'm curious to read a bio to learn how different or not it is stylistically.
As Waugh explains in a 1961 Preface: "This story was written thirty-three years ago. I offered it to the publishers who had commisioned my first book, but they rejected it on what seemed, and still seems to me, the odd grounds of its indelicacy." (p IX) Not surprisingly, IMO, this "indelicacy" is largely what makes this a significant novel.
When I 1st started reading it I wondered something along the lines of 'Oh, shit. Is this going to be another tale of depravity in a British school system I still don't completely understand?!' But, no, it didn't really turn out that way, it wasn't necessary for me to know whether public schools are private schools or not & the 'depravity' is probably part of the "indelicacy" & parodies something common to the rich everywhere: the rich commit the crimes - but somebody else gets punished for them.
"There is a tradition behind the Bollinger; it numbers reigning kings among its past member. At the last dinner, three years ago, a fox had been brought in a cage and stoned to death with champagne bottles." - pp 3-4
Ok, I was just beginning the novel, it started on p 3, & this detail was more than a bit disturbing since I find fox hunts inexcusably cruel - so I wasn't sure whether this was intended as satire or not. It was. When I think of "Bollinger", I have a vague memory of hardback bks I used to see when I was in the bookstore business. They all had powder-blue covers & were reputed to be scholarly. I thought they were part of an acadmic series called "Bollinger Books". I found nothing about them online. Can anyo of you readers confirm that for me? If they exist, do they have anything to do with the "Bollinger Club" parodied above? Ok, never mind, a little more research fevealed the below:
"The Bullingdon Club is an exclusive all-male dining club for Oxford University undergraduates, though it is not officially recognised by that institution. It is noted for its wealthy members, grand banquets, boisterous rituals and destructive behaviour, such as the vandalising ("trashing") of restaurants and students' rooms. Many local outlets refuse to host these events."
"The Bullingdon is satirised as the Bollinger Club (Bollinger being a notable brand of champagne) in Evelyn Waugh's novel Decline and Fall (1928), where it has a pivotal role in the plot: the mild-mannered hero is blamed for the Bollinger Club's destructive rampage through his college and is sent down." - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bulling...
"At the gates Paul tipped the porter.
""Well, goodbye, Blackall," he said. I don't suppose I shall see you for some time."
""No, sir, and very sorry I am to hear about it. I expect you'll be becoming a scoolmaster, sir. That's what most of the gentelmen does, sir, that gets sent down for indecent behavior." - pp 10-11
I reckon Paul is a character in the lineage of Voltaire's "Candide" (1759), the Marquis de Sade's "Justine" (1791), Nathanael West's "A Cool Million - The Dismantling of Lemuel Pitkin", & Terry Southern & Mason Hoffenberg's "Candy" insofar as the protagonist gets used by people considerably less ethical than himself. Interestingly, Paul doesn't really complain, he takes it as it comes & things more or less turn out fine for him. His misfortunes don't constitute the entirety of his life & Waugh isn't really pummeling the reader with a philosophy-of-cruelty like de Sade or a philosophy of pessimism like the other 3. This is 'victimization-lite' & I'm thankful for that. He gets kicked-out of school for something he wasn't responsible for, he doesn't even bother to defend himself, & then his guardian keeps Paul's inheritance using the ejection from school as an excuse:
"["]In the event of your education being finished before that time, he left me with complete discretion to withhold this allowance should I not consider your course of life satisfactory. I do not think that I should be fulfilling the trust which your poor father placed in me if, in the present circumstances, I continued any allowance.["]" - pp 15-16
I'm also reminded of Edward Gorey's morbid humor. Most of my artist friends in the 1970s & 1980s, esp women, loved his work. I always found it a bit annoying. Like, apparently, many other people, I also assumed he was British because his bks are in Victorian & Edwardian settings - but he was actually American. I wonder if Gorey, (February 22, 1925 – April 15, 2000), was at all influenced by Waugh.
Paul does get a job as a schoolmaster & does find himself amongst a motley crew of dubious characters. Upon arrival, he's told about one of the students: "["]Little Lord Tangent has come to us this term, the Earl of Circumference's son, you know. Such a nice little chap, erratic, of course, like all his family, but he has tone."" (p 20) A little geometrical humour, anyone?
""I suppose the first thing I should do is to get your names clear. What is your name?" he asked, turning to the first boy.
""Tangent, sir," said the next boy. Paul's heart sank." - p 49
I had a friend named Nathan Long who who, during the late 1980s or early 1990s when the collective identity "Monty Cantsin" was widely in use, started teaching at a university in Pittsburgh by having someone other than him come in to the classroom & identify himself as "Nathan Long". 2nd class, a different person, also "Nathan Long". 3rd class, he was there as "Nathan Long", by then the students no longer believed. What if Paul went w/ the flow & called himself "Tangent" & proceeded w/ the class?
When I was in Australia in 2000, I discovered a beer called "Invalid Stout". It was cheap, it was delicious, it was local. It was sd to be good for invalids. I loved it at the same time I thought that the idea of any alcohol being good for invalids was a bit preposterous. I'd never heard of such a thing. &, now, in Decline and Fall, I find: "half a bottle of invalid port" (p 25) & I realize that there's a whole world of alcohol out there that claims to be good for invalids. There's even a discussion abotu this on Lonely Planet ( https://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntre... ) in wch some doubt is expressed. A poster named "889" quotes Eliot on the subject:
"T.S. Eliot: "And political religion is like invalid port: you calls it a medicine but it's soon just a 'abit."
"That is, it's for invalids."
"The London wine merchant Gilbey’s had developed a brand known as Gilbey’s Invalid Port, for which it claimed invigorating and tonic properties." - http://www.croftport.com/en/about-cro...
But what about the Invalid Stout I enjoyed so much? "Abbotsford Invalid Stout is a beer produced in Australia by Carlton & United Breweries. An 'invalid stout' is a high-sugar, low-alcohol stout, originally marketed as an especially nutritious variant." ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abbotsf... )
One of Paul's fellow teachers is a bounder whose lows aren't specified but they seem to involve probable sexual activity of an illegal kind. Like the 'anti-heros' of "Justine" & "Candy" he seems to always bound back:
"Then I got into the soup again, pretty badly that time. Happened over in France. They said, 'Now, Grimes, you've got to behave like a gentleman. We don't want a court-martial in this regiment. We're going to leave you alone for a half an hour. There's your revolver. You know what to do. Goodbye, old man,' they said quite affectionately.
""Well, I sat there for some time looking at that revolver. I put it up to my head twice, but each time I borught it down again. 'Public school men don't end like this,' I said to myself. It was a long half-hour, but luckily they had lefgt a decanter of whiskey in there with me.["]" - p 36
Well, yeah, Grimes doesn't kill himself & he gets out of the bind & goes on to do more of the unspecified same.
""You can't keep me in," said Clutterbuck; "I'm going for a walk with Captain Grimes."
""Then I shall very nearly kill you with this stick. Meanwhile you will all write an essay on 'Self-indulgence.' There will be a prize of half a crown for the longest essay, irrespective of any possible merit."" - p 50
"["]Your colleague, Captain Grimes, has been convicted before me, on evidence that leaves no possibility of his innocence, of a crime—I might almost call it a course of action—which I can neither understand nor excuse. I dare say I need not particularize.["]" - pp 129-130
In general, there's a great deal of horribleness of characters - although this is fiction so the 'horribleness' is tempered by how over the top everyone is. The most beautiful woman is also the most accustomed to getting what she wants.. no matter what. Can't say that Paul wasn't warned.
"["]She is the Honorable Mrs. Beste-Chetwynde, you know—sister-in-law of Lord Pastmaster—a very wealthy woman, South American. They always say that she poisoned her husband, but of course little Beste-Chetwynde doesn't know that. It never came into court, but there was a great deal of talk about it at the time. Perhaps you remember the case?"
""No," said Paul.
""Powdered glass," said Flossie shrilly, "in his coffee."
""Turkish coffee," said Dingy." - p 67
"The Hotel Metropole, Cwmpryddyg, is by far the grandest hotel in the north of Wales." - p 132
"Here Cwmpryddyg is an invented Welsh town, an allusion to the difficult Welsh language." - "Stylistics of the English Language" - https://revolution.allbest.ru/languag...
According to the Google Welsh-to-English translator that I used online, "Cwmpryddyg" actually means "comprehensive". So there.
Given that the Welsh have been heavily suppressed by the English, I have to wonder whether a Welsh reader wd find Waugh's depiction of the Welsh people funny:
"["]The ignorant speak of them as Celts, which is of course wholly erroneous. They are of pure Iberian stock—the aboriginal inhabitants of Europe who survive only in Portugal and the Basque district. Cekts readily intermarry with their neighbors and absorb them. From the earliest times the Welsh have been looked upon as an unclean people. It is thus that they have preserved their racial integrity. Their sons and daughters mate freely with the sheep but not with human kind except their onw blood relations.["]" - p 87
Is this the kind of thing English imperialists actually say to justify the oppression?
""I had such a curious conversation just now," Lord Circumference was saying to Paul, "with your" [Welsh] "bandmaster over there. He asked me whether I should like to meet his sister; and when I said, 'Yes, I should be delighted to,' he said that it would cost a pound normally, but that he'd let me have special terms. What can he have meant, Mr. Pennyfoot?"" - p 104
More "indelicacy". Mrs. Beste-Chetwynde has a black lover who she brings to a school event, wch scnadalizes the other attendees but she's so beautiful & rich she's untouchable. This was published in 1928. I wonder how Waugh wd approach a scene of bigotry in 2018, 90 yrs later?
"Eminently aloof from all these stood Chokey and Mrs. Beste-Chetwynde. Clearly the social balance was delicately poised, and the issue depended on them. With or without her nigger, Mrs. Beste-Chetwynde was a woman of vital importance." - p 102
""I think it's an insult bringing a nigger here," said Mrs. Clutterbuck. "It's an insult to our own women."
""Niggers are all right," said Philbrick. "Where I draw a line is a Chink, nasty inhuman things. I had a pal bumped off by a Chink once. Throat cut horrible, it was, from ear to ear."" - p 103
""You folks all think the colored man hasn't got a soul. Anything's good enough for the poor colored man. Beat him; put him in chains; load him with burden . . ." Here Paul observed a responsive glitter in Lady Circumference's eye." - p 107
""The mistake was ever giving them their freedom," said the Vicar. "They were all happier and better looked after before."" - p 108
Yes, Waugh delights in poking fun at ignorance.
"Mr. Prendergast ate a grapefruit with some difficulty. "What a big orange!" he said when he'd finished it. "They do things on a large scale here."" - p 134
One of the things I like the most about the humor in this bk is the showing of how lying is used to get around difficulties: "Six days later the school was given a half-holiday, and soon after luncheon the bigamous union of Captain Edgar Grimes and Miss Florence Selina Fagan was celebrated at the Llanabba Parish Church. A slight injury to his hand prevented Paul from playing the organ." (p 141) In other words, Paul doesn't play the organ - even tho he's been hired to teach it.
""The problem of architecture as I see it," he told a journalist who had come to report on the progress of his surprising creation of ferro-concrete & aluminum, "is the problem of all art—the elimination of the human element from the consideration of form. The only perfect building must be the factory, because that is built to house machines, not men."" - p 163
My solution is to build all buildings w/o means of ingress or egress: ie: no doors or windows, etc. It's a disappointment that the above-quoted architect character was too short-sighted to see the obviousness of this solution. AReinforced concrete was fairly fresh in 1884, aluminum was fairly fresh as of 1889. It's obvious that this architect was a fuddy-duddy. Making buildings out of elephant sperm seeking eggs at the highest point of the building was all the rage in 1928. That didn't last long. I took this bit of Waugh's to be a parody of Bauhouse. Apparently, I was at least partially right:
""I saw some of Otto Silenus's work at Munich," said Potts. "I think that he's a man worth watching. He was in Moscow at one time and in the Bauhaus at Dessau.["]" - p 168
If he'd been a woman architect wd that've made him a "Bauhausfrau"? The young Peter Beste-Chetwynde "mixed himself another brandy and soda and turned a page in Havelock Ellis, which, next to The Wind in the Willows, was his favorite book." (p 196) W/ a Hohausfrau like his mom, is it any wonder? Little Peter was a fortunate young man to spend part of his childhood in a house designed by the great Silenus:
"He admired the luminous ceiling in Mrs. Beste-Chetwynde's study and the indiarubber fungi in the recessed conservatory and the little drawing-room, of which the floor was a large kaleidoscope, set in motion by an electric button." - p 196
Is that where they play Pin the crime on the donkey? Waugh has a wonderful way of making scenes that cd be truly tragic into something that's just a spot of bother:
""There's a young man just like your friend Potts on the other side of the street," said Margot at the window. "And, my dear, he's picked up the last of those poor girls, the one who wanted to take her children and her brother with her."
""Then it can't be Potts," said Paul lazily: "I say, Margot, there was one thing I couldn't understand. Why was it that the less experience those chorus-girls had, the more you seemed to want them? You offered much higher wages to the ones who said they'd never had a job before."
""Did I, darling? I expect it was because I feel so absurdly happy."
"At the time this seemed quite a reasonable explanation, but, thinking the matter over, Paul had to admit to himself that there had been nothing noticeably light-hearted in Margot's conduct of her business." - p 203
&, alas, Paul suffers the consequences of the sins of the motherfucker & goes to jail.. but he handles it w/ aplomb "for anyone who has been to an English public school will always feel comparatively at home in prison. It is the people brought up in the gay intimacy of the slums, Paul learned, who find prison so soul-destroying." (pp 261-262) But, ok, so Mrs. Beste-Chetwynde killed her husband.. that doesn't stop her from making Paul's conditions in prison cushy: "He showed him rather coyly the pile of gaily-bound volumes he carried under his arm. "I thought you'd like the new Virginia Woolf. It's only been out two days."
""Thank you, sir," said Paul politely. Clearly the library of his new prison was run on a much more enterprising and extravagant plan than at Blackstone." - p 264
& don't forget to support your local anarchist run bks-to-prisoners program.
& that's all I'm going to tell you about this one.
Notes are private!
Jan 05, 2018
Jan 09, 2018
really liked it
Charles Williams's All Hallow's Eve
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - December 29-30, 2017
This isn't the same cover as my edition but the det review of
Charles Williams's All Hallow's Eve
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - December 29-30, 2017
This isn't the same cover as my edition but the details match otherwise. It's too much to be bothered w/ to change the cover image right now.
I've never heard of Charles Williams. I got this bk b/c it's published by Avon Bard, who I associate exclusively w/ great Latin American fiction so I was surprised to see this English horror story. Of course, it was also used & cheap.
"CHARLES WILLIAMS was born in 1886 of Welsh parentage. Though largely self-educated and the holder of no formal degrees, he was a lecturer at Oxford and was awarded an honorary M.A. He spent most of his adult life working as an editor of the Oxford University Press." - p i
Go team go! Of course, if he had been taught by other people, if he had learned to imitate them, & wasn't, therefore, an original & free thinker, then he'd really be someone to respect (what?!). T. S. Eliot wrote the intro, that intrigued me too. "I learned that Charles Williams had died in hospital in Oxford the day before, after an operation which had not been expected to be critical." (p viii) You mean like Andy Warhol & bpNichol? & how many others? I even have a 1,154pp bk entitled Deaths From Surgical Complications: Rudolph Valentino, Stonewall Jackson, Douglas Macarthur, Andy Warhol, Eddie Bracken, Ingrid Bergman. I prefer to not be charged for being killed so I think I'll avoid the hospital as much as I can.
"much of his work, especially for the theatre, was done without expectation of adequate renumeration and often without expectation of payment at all." - p x
""I played a concert for 16,000 people at Hollywood last night—unfortunately, they don't pay!" Surely he meant 1,600, unless the concert was out of doors,but in any event, according to one newspaper, it was the largest concert of the season." - p 102, Joel Sachs's Henry Cowell - A Man Made of Music
Ah, yes, the high-rolling life of the creative person! Just give 'em a few drinks & tell 'em how brilliant they are & then send 'em packing while you count the loot.
Eliot is very convinced of Williams's authenticity & originality:
"The stories of Charles Williams, then, are not like those of Edgar Allan Poe, woven out of morbid psychology—I have never known a healthier-minded man than Williams. They are not like those of Chesterton, intended to teach the reader. And they are certainly not an exploitation of the supernatural for the sake of the immediate shudder. Williams is telling us about a world of experience known to him: he does not merely persuade us to believe in something, he communicates this experience that he has had." pp xii-xiii
If Williams has had experiences such as what're recounted in this bk he was a very unusual man indeed. "And if "mysticism" means a belief in the supernatural, and in its operation in the natural world, then Williams was a mystic; but that is only belief in what adherents of every religion in the world profess to believe. His is a mysticism, not of curiosity, or of the lust for power, but of Love" (p xiv)
I have to give Eliot credit for setting the stage nicely in his intro. I don't read much horror or ghost stories or whatevs & I'm hardly a connoisseur but Williams impressed me as somewhat unique mainly b/c the writing seems much less rote than 'usual'. We're not immediately told that some of the characters are dead. Instead we experience their confusion:
"She took her hand off the wall and turned. The bridge was as empty as the river; no vehicles or pedestrians here, no craft there. In all that City she might have been the only living thing. She had been impressed by the sense of security and peace while she had been looking down at the river that only now did she begin to try and remember why she was there on the bridge." - p 20
"She went after him; he should not evade her. She was almost up to him and she saw him throw out his hands towards her. She caught them; she knew she caught them, for she could see them in her own, but she could not feel them. They were terrifying and he was terrifying. She brought her hands against her breast and they grew fixed there, as, wide-eyed with anger and fear, she watched him disappearing before her. As if he were a ghost he faded" - p 22
The jingle faded a bit here & the ad for an ethnic cleansing product flashed on the screen.
What?! I didn't write that! I swear! It was as if a malevolent spirit took possession of my hands & I was powerless to prevent the macabre humor from taking over!
"And then the sudden loud noise, the shrieks, the violent pain. The plane had crashed on them. She had then, or very soon after, become what she now was." - p 24
There's nothing worse than an astral plane crashing into you while you're minding your own business. Next thing you know, even in death you're unsympathetic to your fellow sufferers.
"Lester looked at her. Once she would have been impatient or sympathetic. She felt that, even now, she might be either, but in fact she was neither. There was Evelyn, crying and chattering; well, there was Evelyn crying and chattering. It was not a matter that seemed revelant. She looked away again. They went on sitting." - p 30
Same old, same old. That's about as tral as it gets. Good thing the clergy's a round.
""We know," said Richard, "that his name is Simon Leclerc—sometimes called Father Simon and sometimes Simon the Clerk. We gather he's a Jew by descent, though born in France, and brought up in America. We know that he has a great power of oratory—at least, over there; he hasn't tried it much here so far—and that it's said he's performed a number of very remarkable cures, which I don't suppose we've checked." - p 46
I saw him perform one of those Curés, I think he just put his jacket on backwards, round people tend to do that, absent-minded n'at y'know.
Williams's descriptions of Jonathan's paintings were part of what sucked me into this bk (messy) b/c the author really seems to have a painterly eye (messy).
""They look exactly like beetles," Lady Wallingford said. "They are not human beings at all. And Father Simon's face is exactly the same shape."" - p 48
I was reminded of paintings by James Ensor, maybe his "Ensor aux masques" (1899) ( https://www.wikiart.org/en/james-enso... ) - but that's not quite right. Or, perhaps, I'm reminded of Rene Magritte, maybe his "La reproduction interdite" (1937) ( https://www.renemagritte.org/not-to-b... ). But, most of all, I'm reminded of the movie version of Eugène Ionesco's "Rhinoceros" (play, 1959; movie, 1974) where the character that Gene Wilder's portraying steps off a trolley or a bus or some such & everyone he sees has their faces blocked by turned-down hats or umbrellas. Whatever. Father Simon likes the painting that makes him look like an insect preaching to the insects.
"in low triumph: "That is I."
"Jonathan turned. He said, "You like it?"
"The other answered, "no one has painted me so well for a hundred years. Everything's there.""
""She was rather annoyed with it," said Jonathan. "In fact, she talked, as no doubt she told you, about insects and imbeciles."
"The Clerk, still looking at him, said, "They aren't insects; they are something less.["]" - p 63
That's right, they're robopaths.. & the Clerk is a megalomaniac.. & I, dear reader, am yr humble observer.
"["]You shall have the girl if you want her. Show me something else."" - p 65
Yep, just like that. The Clerk will give the Painter the Girl. SO, remember that, readers, the next time you want to mate w/ someone, paint a picture of an authority figure looking like an insect leading insects & they'll give you whatever you want. Try it on the lust-object's father. Works every time.
""I haven't much here," Jonathan said. "The war paintings—"
""Oh the war!" the Clerk said. "The war, like Hitler, was a foolery. I am the one who is to come, not Hitler! Not the war; something else."" - p 65
Hitler is so passé. Too bad this day & age's neo-nazis haven't figured that out yet.
"Jew and Christian alike had waited for the man who now walked through the empty London streets. He had been born in Paris, in one of these hiding-places of necromancy which all the energy of the Fourteenth Louis had not quite stamped out." - p 68
I think he's talking about phone booths here. I saw a guy changing into some weird onesie in one w/ an "S" on it. I think it stood for "Sorcerer". Now that phone booths are gone what do those sorcerer's use to metamorphose in? There must be a cell-phone app. It probably takes the form of a 'Reality' TV Show where people reveal skeletons in their family closets:
"If she had been Lady Wallingford's real daughter, she might have had a better chance, or so sometimes she thought. But since, years ago, Lady Wallingford had spoken of her adoption, she had always felt at a disadvantage. No allusion was ever made to it now."
"There was in the north, in Yorkshire, a small house where she and Lady Wallingford sometimes went. They always went by themselves, and when they got there she was not even treated as a daughter. She was, purely and simply, the servant." - p 71
& you thought yr parents were bad. At least the house was small, less cleaning to do. Cdn't she've eaten her way out? Aren't those Yorkshire houses made of pudding? I think I read that somewhere.
"That other who stood over the girl who was his daughter also, did not wish her to be herself, or even that only for a purpose." - p 77
I foreshadowed that earlier. Eventually, we come to a discussion of Boot Camps.
"It lay there,as it always does—itself offering no barriers, open to be trodden, ghostly to this world and to heaven, and in its upper reaches ghostly also to those in its lower reaches where (if at all) hell lies. It is ours and not ours, for men and women were never meant to dwell there long; though it is held by some that certain unaccountable disappearances have been into that world, and that a few (even living) may linger there awhile. But mostly those streets are only for the passing through of the newly dead." - p 80
"She said nothing. She went forward and up the steps. She went on into Lady Wallingford's house." - p 94
Richard, you know, Lester's husband (or ex-husband?), "felt with a shock that Simon was between him and the door. He knew the door was there, but he could not focus it properly. The door was not behind Simon; it was Simon: all the ways from this room and in this wood went through Simon. Lady Wallingford was only a stupid old witch in a wood, but this was the god in the wood." (pp 101-102) I didn't tell you so. Don't say I never told you anything. You didn't hear it from me.
"They were going down the hall and turning into a narrow corridor, as if into a crack in the wall, insects passing into a crack; they were all passing through." - p 103
Don't panic in the event of a gas attack. Try our weight-loss plan & turn into a narrow corridor!
"All the poems and paintings may, like faith and hope—and desperation—live, they live; while human communication remains, they remain. It was this that the clerk was removing; he turned, or sought to turn, words into mere vibrations. The secret school in which he had grown up had studied to extend their power over vocal sounds beyond the normal capacities of man. Generations had put themselves to the work. The healing arts done in that house had depended on this power; the healer had by sympathy of sound breathed restoring relationship into the subrational components of flesh." - p 105
That's why I'm not an organ donor.
"It had been, earthly, about five that morning when Lester entered the house at Highgate. It had seemed only evening in the City she had left, for that other City was not bound either to correspondence or to sequence. Its inhabitants were where it chose they should be, as it engaged in its work of accommodating them to itself. They could not yet, or only occasionally, know contemporaneously. Lester still, in general, knew only one thing at a time, and knew them in a temporal order." - p 113
That's similar to knowing them in a 'biblical sense'.
"What had looked at Lester from Evelyn's eyes, what now showed in her own, was pure immortality. That was the seal of the City, its first gift to the dead who entered it." - p 130
I had a pet seal. She died. Its immortality must've been impure.
"It was not for her yet to know the greater mystery. That waited her growth in grace, and the enlragement of her proper faculties in due time. Yet all she saw, and did not quite wonder at seeing, was but a small part of the whole. There around her lay not only London, but all cities—coincident yet each distinct; or else, in another mode, lying by each other as the districts of one city lie. She could, had the time and her occasions permitted, have gone to any she chose—any time and place that men had occupied or would occupy. There was no huge metropolis in which she would hae been lost, and no single village which would itself have been lost in all that contemporaneous mass. In this City lay all—London and New York, Athens and Chicago, Paris and Rome and Jerusalem" - p 170
Hhmm.. I reckon that's a Metalopolis rather than a Megalopolis.
"With his hands thus encased, he took up the manikin between them and handled and dandled and warmed and seemed to encourage it, whispering to it, and once or twice holding it above his head, as a father might his child, and as it turned its head, now grown, and looked over its shoulder, the girls saw that its eyes were open and bright, though meaningless. They saw also that it was longer and now nearly three feet in height" - p 176
Some people just don't know when to leave well enuf alone.
Well, there it is, the story in a nut-shell. No need to read it, go outside & play now.
I was reminded a little of Maurice Blanchot & Wyndham Lewis. ...more
Notes are private!
Dec 27, 2017
Dec 30, 2017