Tributes: American Writers on American Writers (Conjunctions Book 29)
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shelf there are three books together: Bottom Dogs (City Lights Books, 1930, 1961), The Edward Dahlberg Reader (New Directions, 1967) and The Leafless American (McPherson and Co., 1986). Another I thought I had (once I am reminded of it) is missing — where, where, where is it? (Because I Was Flesh.) Another shelf in the house? Upstairs? No. Another life, another apartment? See the spine clear as day — somewhere. I am looking, because of a conversation last night over dinner in a restaurant
European in him, who had read not only his household’s Dickens but someone else’s Baudelaire, Verlaine and Mallarmé. He had taught himself French in order to do it and it was no surprise that the enterprising, dangerous-living French should cleave to his work as, later, they cleaved to the nouveau roman (first welcomed by Americans). Faulkner ended up trying to get French results from American stuff, and I think he succeeded, certainly in Sanctuary (though at least one critic identified in it the
is that she was a genius. Like Wittgenstein — another passionate promoter of one’s own “vocabulary of thinking”— Stein’s work made me laugh. Better put, her writing (and his) tickled my mind at its absolute core. What a sense of delight and well-being I experienced reading Stein’s splendid little sentences, crafted and canny like no others. The world of her words — stringent, moony, repetitive, humorous, surreal — still makes me long to linger in them, subsist on them, claim them as my own.
the engendered proto-Sphinx, who simply appeared without formal literary precedent, much in the manner of Lautreamont or Rimbaud. Of course, this is plain to us now, but in the atmosphere of the 1950s, with the case against the Rosenbergs still hissing, with the rasping carcinogens of McCarthy generally rife throughout the atmosphere, he showed unprecedented character. General threat corroded the foreground; metropolitan areas swarmed with informers, all enigmas were suspected. Noncondoned
Will Not Appear,” e.g.: 6. And while we are about it, out go all those homosexuals who have taken such a dominating position in recent fiction. Isn’t it time that we embraced the indiscretion and inconstancy of the flesh and moved on? Or this passage from The Wapshot Chronicle: And now we come to the unsavory or homosexual part of our tale and any disinterested reader is encouraged to skip. Or there is Doris the male prostitute in “The Jewels of the Cabots,” or the summer camp affair or