Monday, October 12, 2015

"Boris Vian Invents Boris Vian" by Boris Vian (Translated by Julia Older)

ISBN: 9780985612290 Black Widow Press

I have thought of Boris Vian and his work everyday for the last 25 years.  I published all his major works in English, and spent a personal fortune in getting his books out to the world.  I did it, because I love him.  I love him and I love his work.  So, it's very odd for me to see "Boris Vian Invents Boris Vian," because I had nothing to do with its production.  Still, what a pleasure to read these series of short stories, poems, and the occasional essay or two. Julia Older did a fantastic job in editing and translating the book, and I like it that "her" Vian is different from my world of Boris Vian.   Or is it?

I love many in literature, but there are only a few that really inspire my own writing.  Osamu Dazai, Robert Benchley, and of course Vian.  I look upon Vian, not only for his writing talent, but also his placement in post-war Paris life.   In many ways, it is so close to the American Beat culture that was taking place in New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.   The only thing that separates the two cultures is the language itself.  Both loved jazz, movies, and pretty girls and boys.   So my appreciation of Vian is very much part of my family and upbringing.

To be picky about "Boris Vian Invents Boris Vian" is mostly editorial/design stuff.  The book is very much bi-lingual, meaning there is French on the left side and the English translation on the right side.   For poetry, I think this is a must, but I feel for the prose pieces it is not needed.  I think there should have been more fiction narratives, and maybe more essays by Vian in this package.  Boris' son Patrick (French prog rock 70s figure) introduction is charming, and the same for Julia's commentary on Vian's work.  But I also feel it need someone in the academic or literature world comment on the works as well.  There is very little commentary in English on Vian's work, and having another voice in the package I think would make this book stronger.  Also it would have been great if they had a Vernon Sullivan short story in the collection as well.  But it may have been issues of getting permission, rights, etc.

The good news is that the Black Widow Press (who published this book) normally do excellent poetry books - mostly by the French avant-garde (I'm a huge fan) poets and focusing on the greats such as Tristian Tzara, Andre Breton, and other Surrealist/DADA poets.  I think this may be the first time that they actually published some prose pieces.   So in their editorial thinking, it is clearly seems normal for them to do a French/English edition of their titles, besides this Vian collection.

The truth is, it's impossible for one volume to capture the entire genius of Boris Vian.  He was a man who was all over the map.  Translator, singer, trumpet player, essayist, jazz fanatic, songwriter, A&R for record label, and also a trained engineer.   To love Vian, you need to own the recordings he made, the music he loved, (from Duke Ellington to Serge Gainsbourg), his plays, science fiction works, Vernon Sullivan novels and short stories and so forth.   He's a major talent!  Just buy all of it!

I also love the Situationist-like take of Paris at the end of this book.  Where he makes plans for his "own" version of Paris.  Perfect.  I'm happy that this book is out, made, and it is ready for you guys to read. Just remember to buy my TamTam Books' Vian editions as well.

"Massive Pissed Love: Nonfiction 2001-2014" by Richard Hell

ISBN: 978-1-59376-627-6  Soft Skull Press

Richard Hell can't do no wrong in my world.  He's a man of great taste (even though I do not agree with some of it), and one of the few who can mix making music and writing very well.   This is his first collection of essays, reviews, and nonfiction writing.  It's a wonderful way to spend time with someone, without actually sitting across from Mr. Hell.   He's a superb prose writer, who reads the world of cinema, literature, the visual arts and music quite well.  His observations of life in New York City right after 9/11 is even unique, in the way he talks about how the city smelled during that time.  His writing actually affects all my senses.  If he ever wanted to be a food/restaurant critic, I'm sure he would be great for that as well.

I think a lot of people when they hear the name "Richard Hell" - explicit images come up.  The thing is, Richard can articulate who he is, and why he likes a certain work of art, or why he does not like it.   I can imagine him being a distinguished humanities professor.  He understands why people create, and he's sensitive to the process of doing art.   I recommend "Massive Pissed Love" to those who know Richard through his music and his role in the New York punk world.  But beyond that, Hell is just naturally a very skilled writer.  On one level, he's the other side of the coin when it comes to Patti Smith.  It's interesting to read both of their memoirs right after the other - because in a way it deals with the same subject matter - and both are very unique and clear-headed prose stylists.  Essential book for your collection.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Sunday Series; Sunday October 11, 2015

The Sunday Series
Sunday October  11, 2015

Nothing moves forward unless you yourself become extreme.  Otherwise it is what it always is, and that, is not going to happen.   I started a vegetarian society called “The Friends of Shelley” - named after the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, who was a life-long vegetarian.   He wrote an essay, “A Vindication of Natural Diet, ” where he pisses on the human that eats animal flesh.   To quote him in this piece: “And man … no longer now/ He slays the lamb that looks him in the face, / And horribly devours his mangled flesh.”  

I went to my local vegetarian restaurant that will remain nameless right now, to protect them from the meat-eaters from that neighborhood, who often shows disrespect to those who choose to befriend the animal than killing them.  I left a notice for those who want to go the extra-step in preserving the animal population, that they should meet me at Echo Park Lake near the closed entrance of the bridge going over the water.   9 people showed up - five of them were women, and the other four were male.   I read them poetry by Shelley, and told them that I wanted to start a secret society where we devote ourselves to the vegetarian lifestyle and to acknowledge the struggle against the meat-eater, who has nothing but hatred towards us.  

Los Angeles is not so bad. There are various vegetarian restaurants as well as a lot of dining places that have a veggie section on their menu.   What we want to do is eliminate all meat dishes everywhere.  If you allow such a dish to hit the dining table, then that means others will follow.   Also it’s getting harder to have a meal with a meat-eating friend.  To sit across the table and watch someone fill their gaping hole under their nose with the flesh of an animal is perhaps the most obscene thing ever presented to me.   Chewing food seems cruel enough, but to think teeth grinding into something that was once alive, well…

We met at the Echo Park Lake again, but this time at 2 in the morning.  We met in the darkest part of the park where the traffic going by would not notice us.  I had one lit candle, and as usual read Shelley’s poetry to the gang.  It was decided that we will attack all the brand name chain restaurants that feature meat as the main subject matter of their business.   With the help of the Google map, we found at least five fast-food restaurants within a ten mile radius.   We decided to use as a costume for the gang, a clown outfit, and we plan to attack each restaurant by robbing the place and then handing the dough to the customers, and tell them to spend their money on food that doesn’t rely on once living creatures. 

I set up camp in my backyard, where we practiced military maneuvers and sleep on the bushes in the hopes of attracting wild animals.  We feel, or I should say I, believe that if you lay yourself down with an animal, one becomes closer to the beast.  One night I slept on the hill when I felt a breath above my face.  I didn’t respond nor showed fear, but I gently and slowly opened my eye to see a coyote looking straight at me and only inches from my face.  Once we saw that I was alive, he or she was scared.  But I didn’t move, nor changed my breathing. Once he saw that I was alive, and I wasn’t going to attack him or her, he kindly licked my hand.  The tongue was rough, and I gently rubbed my fingers against their paw.  He licked my face, and I licked back.  I gently took the head and placed its mouth on my mouth.  I put my tongue in its mouth and kissed the coyote.  

The next morning, I felt my purpose on this planet became crystal clear.  Me and the rest of “The Friends of Shelley” gang will be committed for the right change, and won’t back down.  One of the texts that we are drawn to is worth quoting fully.  It’s by Voltaire and here it is:

“How pitiful, and what poverty of mind, to have said that the animals are machines deprived of understanding and feeling . . . 
Judge (in the same way as you would judge your own) the behaviour of a dog who has lost his master, who has searched for him in the road barking miserably, who has come back to the house restless and anxious, who has run upstairs and down, from room to room, and who has found the beloved master at last in his study, and then shown his joy by barks, bounds and caresses. There are some barbarians who will take this dog, that so greatly excels man in capacity for friendship, who will nail him to a table, and dissect him alive, in order to show you his veins and nerves. And what you then discover in him are all the same organs of sensation that you have in yourself. Answer me, mechanist, has Nature arranged all the springs of feeling in this animal to the end that he might not feel? Has he nerves that he may he incapable of suffering?” - Voltaire

I have a large estate in Silver Lake, and I decided, with the great assistance of “The Friends of Shelley” to start a colony called “Monte Verità.” As a group we “abhorred private property, practiced a rigid code of morality, strict vegetarianism and nudism.” We are also against the institution of marriage, party politics and dogmas.   Due that it is my property, I decided to take the fence down, so wild animals can come in and mingle with the humans.   We, as a group refuse to own pets, because that is slavery in our opinion.  At this time, I have a dog, two cats, and a parakeet.  I released all my animals to the world, and they are free to stay or wander the earth.   And one must remember, “The Friends of Shelley” will not take any prisoners, but on the other hand, we will love you as a brother, sister, or more likely, as an animal. 

Saturday, October 10, 2015

"M Train" by Patti Smith

ISBN: 9781408867693
"M Train" is perhaps one of the most romantic books of being a writer, and those who likes to read.  What can be better than reading and writing in a small hip cafe, and watching the world go by.  And on top of that, visit every cool writer's grave site - from Europe to Japan.  Patti Smith is not a hard person to figure out.   She conveys the spirit of being a book nerd as well as a rock n' roll lunatic.   In many ways, it's a very simple image of a writer/artist. Yet it is the simple aspect of it that many are driven towards that world.   Millions feel like Patti, but she has the ability to write in a very clear manner her love for icons such as the Beats, Genet, Rimbaud - and to my utter delight - Osamu Dazai.    And speaking of Japan, I'm happy that she gives a call-out to my favorite cafe - "The Lion" in Shibuya, Tokyo.

For those who fell in love with Patti Smith due to her previous book "Just Kids," will not find the same type of narrative.  This is very much a writer's book, about writing and thinking.  Also it's a book about nothing, which for many of us (including me) is very much an aesthetic that one follows.  In other words, this is a book that is hard to dislike, and one can only dislike this book, if you don't have the romantic impulse of reading and worshiping your favorite artists.  For me, I don't see art or artists in that light.  They are not gods, but humans, and that is what strikes my fancy regarding the artist and their role in our world.

If I were you (readers), I would treat "M Train" as a classic.  I would recommend this book to romantic girls and boys, as well as a bit of social history through the eyes of Patti Smith.  May you sit in that cafe, for a long time.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Semina Culture Wallace Berman & His Circle ARTBOOK | D.A.P. 2015 Catalog Books Exhibition Catalogues 9781938922725

Semina Culture: Wallace Berman & His Circle

Published by D.A.P./Santa Monica Museum of Art
Edited with text by Michael Duncan, Kristine McKenna. Text by Stephen Fredman.

Featured image, Wallace Berman's "Untitled" verifax collage, 1961–62, is reproduced from <I>Semina Culture</I>.This reprint of the now classic and much sought-after 2005 volume celebrates the circle of the quintessential visual artist of the Beat era, Wallace Berman (1926–76), who remains one of the best-kept secrets of the postwar era. A crucial figure in California's underground culture, Berman was a catalyst who traversed many different worlds, transferring ideas and dreams from one circle to the next. His larger community is the subject of Semina Culture, which includes previously unseen works by 52 artists. Anchoring this publication is Semina, a loose-leaf art and poetry journal that Berman published in nine issues between 1955 and 1964. Although printed in extremely short runs and distributed to only a handful of friends and sympathizers, Semina is a brilliant and beautifully made compendium of the most interesting artists and poets of its time, and is today a very rare collector's item. Showcasing the individuals that defined a still-potent strand of postwar counterculture, Semina Culture outlines the energies and values of this fascinating circle. Also reproduced here are works by those who appear in Berman's own photographs, approximately 100 of which were recently developed from vintage negatives, and which are seen here for the first time. These artists, actors, poets, curators, musicians and filmmakers include Robert Alexander, John Altoon, Toni Basil, Wallace Berman, Ray Bremser, Bonnie Bremser, Charles Britten, Joan Brown, Cameron, Bruce Conner, Jean Conner, Jay DeFeo, Diane DiPrima, Kirby Doyle, Bobby Driscoll, Robert Duncan, Joe Dunn, Llyn Foulkes, Ralph Gibson, Allen Ginsberg, George Herms, Jack Hirschman, Walter Hopps, Dennis Hopper, Billy Jahrmarkt, Jess, Lawrence Jordan, Patricia Jordan, Bob Kaufman, Philip Lamantia, William Margolis, Michael McClure, David Meltzer, Taylor Mead, Henry Miller, Stuart Perkoff, Jack Smith, Dean Stockwell, Ben Talbert, Russ Tamblyn, Aya (Tarlow), Alexander Trocchi, Edmund Teske, Zack Walsh, Lew Welch and John Wieners.

Featured image, Wallace Berman's "Untitled" verifax collage, 1961–62, is reproduced from Semina Culture.

Semina Culture Wallace Berman & His Circle ARTBOOK | D.A.P. 2015 Catalog Books Exhibition Catalogues 9781938922725

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

"Bowie" by Simon Critchley (Or Books)

9781939293541 Or Books
Philosopher Simon Critchley on a very important subject matter: David Bowie.   As a hardcore Bowie fan, who has read many books on the artist, this one is not exactly essential, but still interesting.  To be honest, I feel that the Facebook page I put up for Bowie's albums, are much more interesting and insightful in the making of these albums.   The Critchley book is charming, but it really doesn't go into the depth of Bowie's work.  In other words, it is not obsessive!

He does write about religion in Bowie's songs as well as other spiritual issues that comes up a lot in his work, and also the subject matter of identity as well.  This book is not meant to be the end-all of all Bowie text - but just something to pile on the top of the Bowie library or in other words, throw it in with the other Bowie titles.

Velaslavasay Panorama presents "Dog, Lights and Sewing Machine - Our Sound of Beyond

 Saturday, October 17th, 2015  7:00PM
$12 General / $10 Members

Curated by Lun*na Menoh and presented in conjunction with The Velaslavasay Panorama, Dogs, Lights and Sewing Machine is a psychedelic phenomenon that occurs once every 100 years.

Koji Lijima - The Wagging Dog
A compact iron dog comes from Japan to jam with local drummer Martin Silva.

Sam Rowell - Color Objectivism, Harmonic Distortion, and the Illusion of the Noise-free System
Light and sound create site-specific happenings that meld analog tones and subtle color induction to affect audiences in a way that is both subliminal and corporeal.

Lun*na Menoh and Atuko Yoo - We as the Sewing Machine 
The vocal and sampling of sewing machine sounds to create experimental sewing music.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

"Different Every Time: The Authorized Biography of Robert Wyatt" by Marcus O'Dair

ISBN: 9781593766160 Soft Skull Press

This is not really a biography on Robert Wyatt, but more like an intense love-fest for the artist.  And really, who would want less than that?  Wyatt is one of the great music figures of the 20th century.  A great singer in that Chet Baker mode of intimacy, with a mind like Alfred Jarry and the politics of a hard-left fellow.  The book is very strong with respect to the early world of The Soft Machine and Kevin Ayers - another iconic wayward genius.  One gets detailed information about the making of all of Wyatt's recordings as well as interviews with the musicians who worked with him.  Wyatt comes off as a modest man with elements of genius. One thing that makes clear is that Wyatt's wife and muse, of sorts, Alfreda Bengie is a major force in his life.  In many ways, she is George to his Gilbert.   Plus her best friend is Julie Christie.  

Wyatt sees his life (so far) in two sections. Before and after his accident which made him wheel-chair orientated for the rest of his life.  Nevertheless the accident (fall from a window) seemed to give him focus, which leads to works like the classic "Rock Bottom."   A perfectionist who sometimes takes great time between albums, is also a musician who likes to work with others on their projects.  But whenever Wyatt opens his mouth and sings, it becomes very much a Robert Wyatt recording.   The book is essential for Wyatt fans and for those who want to research the early 60s life of bands like Soft Machine, Pink Floyd and a touch of Jimi Hendrix.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

"My Face For The World To See" by Alfred Hayes (NYRB)

Another obscure title in the Hollywood novel category! Beyond that this is an excellent novel. I can tell you the plot or narrative, but that is not that interesting. What is interesting is how the characters see themselves in this narrative. The inner-dialogue parts are fantastic, and although the novel was written in the late 1950s - it reads very contemporary. Alfred Hayes himself, sounds like a very interesting fellow. He wrote or co-wrote neb-italian film classics as well as being one of those guys who is in the right place at the right time - yet, I never heard of him! Till now. He captures the beginning of a causal affair turning into a nightmare very well.  

The edition i read is from the library and it's the original release - NYRB just recently put out their edition - and I strongly recommend those who have a fascination with the Hollywood film world - as well as reading a great psychological narrative on a group of disturbed individuals, to get and read this novel.

"List of the Lost" by Morrissey

978-0-141-98296-0 Penguin Books (British Import)

Without a doubt, and clearly, one of the oddest literary works by a pop singer ever.   It is really beyond the category of good or bad.  On one level, it's brilliant.  The truth is if this book was or is simply OK, then that would be a crime against both artificial and real nature.   While reading this, the name Ed Wood Junior comes to mind.  In that, it's a work by an artist who follows no rules except their own.   On one level, it's brilliant that he's working with Penguin, and knows its history quite well.   The cover and design of this book are genius-like.   But how does he arrange to get a book like this released to the world - and within the Penguin empire?

"List of the Lost" is like no other book.   It truly goes beyond even taste.   For me, it is probably the most Morrissey-like work, in that he has a platform where Morrissey discusses all his obsessions such as vintage AmericanTV shows, and politics.  Since the narrative takes place in the 70s there are American politics, but it reads from the point-of-view of a foreigner.  Although the narrative takes place in Boston, it is really that country called "Morrisseyland."   It's not the United Kingdom, Europe, and for sure, not really America.  Yet, it's interesting how Morrissey looks at American culture.  In his style, he re-invents the U.S. culture to suit his own aesthetic.  And this is what makes him a real genius.   I know he's annoying at times, but like the boy with the thorn in his side, he's endlessly fascinating.    And although this book is beyond pain or pleasure, it is truly a work of this man.  The truth is I love Morrissey.

Friday, October 2, 2015

ELIZABETH YOO PAINTING EXHIBITION: Paintings based on Alain Robbe-Grillet's films

Holyrad Studio Presents

Eros and After: Pleasure and Pain in the Early Films of Alain Robbe-Grillet

12 PM-9 PM

We will be hosting a full day of cultural mischief. Artist Elizabeth Yoo’s paintings are interpretations of scenes from the first four films of French filmmaker and writer Alain Robbe-Grillet, whose experimental, dreamlike work remains as unique, groundbreaking, and controversial today as it was in the 1960s. His movies introduced audiences to a world of sadomasochistic eroticism and disjointed narratives in which the most decadent of fantasies are indulged.

Join us on October 3rd for some light refreshments. Watch scenes from Robbe-Grillet’s films, make new friends, and meet the artist. At 7pm we will be showing Robbe-Grillet's film "Trans-Europ-Express."

Paintings are available for purchase!

Elizabeth is a friend of mine, and this is her first painting exhibition.   I love the series that she is working on, and I just want  to let people / citizens of New York City know that she has an one day opening of her work.  All paintings are based on the cinema of the great French writer/thinker Alain Robbe-Grillet.   If you can make it to the exhibition, please do go.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

"Dirty Eddie" by Ludwig Bemelmans BOOK REVIEW

Five Stars. I would give five stars to every page of this book. 240 pages, so that makes it 1,200 stars. I have always liked Ludwig Bemelmans work - especially his travel writing as well as his book about hotel life and running a restaurant in the hotel. But here we have the ultimate 1940s Hollywood era novel, with a cast of hundreds - well at least six or seven, and of course a pig by the name of Dirty Eddie. But Dirty Eddie doesn't even make an appearance till page one hundred-and-something. The beauty of this book is the writing. The words flow out of Bemelmans like the expert that he truly was. He reminds me of P.G. Wodehouse in that he shares the sense of absurdity, with the right sentence at the perfect time. On the surface "Dirty Eddie" may seem light, but I think it's an incredible novel of its time and place (Hollywood, California). 

I don't know the origins of the novel, but I am betting that the characters are based on real people, and perhaps this novel was serialized in a magazine - but that is all an educated guess. Nevertheless: Superb!  I also got this book out of the Los Angeles Downtown Library.   

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A personal note from the Publisher of TamTam Books - regarding "In The Words of Sparks - Selected Lyrics"

On a personal note, with respect to "In The Words of Sparks: Selected Lyrics" I wanted to do a proper book with them, that would just focus on the poetry and lyrics of Ron Mael and Russell Mael (Sparks).   I felt that their lyric writing was under-appreciated, and obviously to me, Ron is up there with other iconic American greats like Cole Porter, Stephen Sondheim, Lorenz Hart, and Ira Gershwin.   I brought the project to their attention, and asked them to select at least 75 lyrics for the book.  They did so, with great care and skill.   A lot of the lyrics are mis-printed on the internet as well as even on the original album liner notes.  Both Russell and Ron selected works that were important to them and then they did some editing.  So what is interesting is how Ron and Russell look at their work - and what's important to them.  It is not my selection nor yours - but Ron and Russell's.  

 I approached one of their biggest fans, Morrissey, into writing an introduction.  At the time, I thought this was going to be an impossible match-up, especially since I only at the time, met Morrissey once.  But he was so gracious and wrote a fantastic introduction describing his love for Ron and Russell's lyrics.  When one is a fan of an artist, it becomes a much smaller world.  To be able to publish Ron and Russell's lyrics, as well as the introduction by Morrissey - it was like I didn't want to wake-up from this perfect dream.   "In The Words of Sparks" is the quintessential introduction to the world of Ron and Russell.  Their music is incredible, but to be in a position to read their words by itself - well that is amazing as well.   Thank you Ron, Russell, and Morrissey. 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

"The End of the Story" a novel by Lydia Davis

Without a doubt, one of the great books on writing that is not non-fiction, but in fact a work of fiction.  On one level, a narrative (of sorts) regarding the beginning and ending of a relationship, or what we are led to believing is a relationship.  One is not sure, since we're getting the story or narrative from the author -for all I know she maybe making this all up, or it could be a demented diary of sorts.  Fragmented, yet totally readable, the narrator comments on every aspect of her relationship with a younger free-spirit.   She is a college professor who does translations (Lydia is a well-known and great translator) who is writing a novel.  "The End of the Story" is about her relationship or at the very least, based on her affair with this younger guy.   It is also the dread of finishing a novel or a work of literature.  One thinks that it is due to the end of a romance, but it goes down more serious than that.   So far, this is her only novel, and honestly she doesn't need to do another one -because this is very much a perfect work.  Also I enjoy her short (short) stories so much, I never want her to stop that.   Lydia Davis is a great American (but French loving) writer.   If I was teaching writing in a class, for sure the authors I would bring up are: Richard Stark, PG Wodehouse, and of course, Lydia Davis.  A writer can learn a lot from these masters.

Boris Vian - Foam of the Daze BOOK REVIEW

A really nice review of Boris Vian's "Foam of the Daze"  (TamTam Books)

Sunday, September 27, 2015

The Sunday Series: Sunday September 27, 2015

The Sunday Series:
Sunday September 27, 2015

Well, I was born with everything and I will end up with nothing.   I can physically feel the drain of my finances disappearing, as if it was a personal check written in invisible ink.   The farce that is life, is slowly draining away as well.   I have a fear of looking in the mirror and finding my image gone.    There is a slow leak in my bathtub, and each drop represents my power getting less and less.  I was trying to fix it, but you can't fix something that is fate being written out for you.  I can now understand why friends and even slight acquaintances refuse to see or meet me for a drink.   Why be further reminded of failure?  It is right at this very moment, that I realize what life can be on this planet without me.

The buzz-buzz of the bumble bee, or what is left of the species, will be outside my window, competing with the hum of the early morning traffic.   The sound of people moving from one location to another, not for the sense of adventure, but out of duty.   I close my window, and I can see the one bee hitting against it, over and over again.   The determination to stay on the "program" no matter what, is kind of moving to me, but alas, it's sick.  If there is any happiness for me, it is to be removed from the physical space, and lets myself journey as a spirit.  Even that, I can feel the loneliness of the stores that close their doors as I attempt to enter.   There is no exit. So therefore there should be no entrance for me as well.  

There is something funny about my sadness.   People laugh at it, and that gets me to laugh as well.  I'm so over depression.  It's like the paper you used to wipe up the rain water that came through the house.   Instead of throwing it away, you just let it stay there till it's hardened and mildew takes over.  You can't bother changing the space, so just let nature take care of its own.  

I really want to write a poem.   It's Sunday, and it's either a day that starts off the week, or a reminder that the previous week was one of failure.   I don't go to church, nor do I not drink on Sunday, but instead, I try to dump my head into the thought that is Sunday.  I can't get my head around it.  Why is there a day of the week, where one mediates on their failures?  I have started a manuscript folder that is empty.  Every Sunday I look at the blank white piece of fake computer paper, and wonder "where is the poem?"   So I keep a record of all the empty pages, to remind me that I do try to work, but alas, the brain won't let me forget the darkness that's in my soul.  

At times, I feel the need to disappear into my writing.   If I can somehow take my body and get inside the manuscript, I would be, if not, a better place, but at home.   The brutality of the world is the need for physical comforts, and to be forced away from one's writings, is like the taste of something nasty and not right.  I want to feel right, and therefore I must find the portal to the written world. 

While walking around Los Feliz area of Los Angeles, I went to one of my favorite bookstores "Skylight Books" to purchase a collection of short stories by Emmanuel Bove called "Henri Duchemin and his Shadows."  As I sat at the Brü Coffee Bar, I didn't mean to read a whole story, but I started at the first sentence, and couldn't stop reading till the very end.   All the main characters are male, and too sure of their placement in their world.  Of course, this got me thinking about my problems and how I feel about myself.  Bove, according to the introduction, had a life-time of serious financial mishaps, and I try to imagine myself in his shoes.  In fact, when I look at the ground, and I see my shoes, I think of Bove.  

There is no doubt that I'm heading towards a major fall or breakdown of some sort.  The thing is at this point and time, I need to face up to it, and just either roll with the punch, or if I'm fast enough, must avoid the full hit.   It's odd to read a book and enjoy someone else's suffering. It doesn't make me forget my misery, but somehow enhances the experience as if it was a multi-layered milkshake.  Each bite or drink leads one to another sensation.   The world is not a happy one for me, but nevertheless, it is a landscape that has many textures.  My job is to jump into what is offered to me - both the good and the bad (and to be honest, it doesn't look too good here) and presented in such a fashion, that can hopefully enlighten one.   Or a reader or two.  Or not. 

Saturday, September 26, 2015

"Henri Duchemin and his Shadows" by Emmanuel Bove (Introduction by Donald Breckenridge) Translated from the French by Alyson Waters

978-1-59017-832-4, $14.95, nyrb classics

I have never read Emmanuel Bove, and now, I feel like I have a good new friend.  On the other hand, do I need him as a friend?  The short stories all deal with a main character who feels misplaced or not connecting on a human level with others or their settings.  In many ways, they are totally self-destructive figures who seem to enjoy their fall from grace to embrace emotional failure.  Most of his fiction was written between the two world wars, so it's a world that itself is in conflict, and i think Bove is commenting on the nature of that landscape and how one lives on that mental state of depression and fear of the future.  Relationships seem to be built on quicksand than on pavement and ground.  Bove captures these moments that are totally believable, yet they are basically insane people.   Right now, I feel we are going through an age of intense anxiety.   "Henri Duchemin and his Shadows" expresses the culture of the 20s, and makes perfect sense in the year 2015 as well. 

Emmanuel Bove

Wednesday, September 23, 2015



"A Brief History of Portable Literature" by Enrique Vila-Matas

Another superb book by Enrique Vila-Matas. At the moment, he can do no wrong. This short little novel is the 20th century version of Marvel Comics 'The Avengers or DC comic's "The Justice League of America." What we have here is a secretive group called the Shandies, that consists of Marcel Duchamp, Georgia O'Keefe, Man Ray, and other great "modern" literary figures who meets up in distant cities as well as even in a submarine, to discuss literature. Literature that is based on the assumption of portable literature. Sort of the same nature as Duchamp's portable museum or inventory of his art work in a suitcase. Vila-Matas has an incredible imagination, but based on real people and real events. He specializes in re-writing literary history to his own liking. Right now, I think he is the most essential author. But to be honest, it is because he touches on all stuff that Ihave an interest in. Which is literature, books, and their authors. Especially the good ones.