Sunday, January 28, 2018

"The Garden of Eros: The Story of the Paris Expatriates and the Post-War Literary Scene" by John Calder (ALMA)

ISBN: 9780957452213

Along with Grove Press's Barney Rosset and the legendary Olympia publisher Maurice Girodias, John Calder is part of the powerful trio of visionaries who presented and published remarkable literature in the 20th century.   "The Garden of Eros" is both a literary history of publishing as well as a memoir of those years.  Calder also wrote "Pursuit" which is interesting, but also in the need of some editing.  "The Garden of Eros" is a better book that focuses on a huge subject matter - publishing in the 20th century.  The subtitle is correct, but rather limiting when one reads the book.  Paris is pretty much the focus with respect to the publishing history, but it also deals with the Paris Review crowd to Terry Southern to Alexander Trocchi, who is without the doubt, one of the great characters of the 20th century - both in a good, but a mostly bad way.  In fact, Calder's book may be the best with respect to writing about Trocchi's sordid history as writer and junkie.  The book is gossipy, as well as information regarding Trocchi, but also Girodias, who is an important figure in not only publishing but in his troubled relationships with his writers.  Henry Miller, Beckett, Burroughs, Paul Bowles, Jane Bowles, Alain Robbe-Grillet and so many other writers/ personalities are in this volume of delight.  As a publisher myself, I can easily identify myself with the Maurice Girodias and John Calder passion for making books and presenting authors - even those who wrote DB (dirty books).  An important document on publishing and its incredible personalities that ran into that world. 

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