Wednesday, July 30, 2008

gay crow jim, & other matters

Maugham, RAZOR'S EDGE (p. 162 Penguin, with intro. by Anthony Curtis), "After that we saw a good deal of Larry." You could begin there, in the middle, and from that point on (forget the first half of the book) it is a masterpiece. Better than MOON, better than BONDAGE, almost as good as the best of The Trembling Of A Leaf or any of his south seas tales, like "Red" and of course "Rain" - Miss Sadie. But in Tahiti, he is said to have swindled Gauguin's son, Emile, out of the painted door, which he removed to the French Riviera. Also in RAZOR, Maugham has the character closest to him say: mystic inclinations are for people afraid of deep emotion.

I must read "Maugham vs. James" by Adeline R. Tinter in ANTIQUARIAN BOOKMAN, number 7, (Nov. '63). How nice to look forward to reading something one wants to.

I live so vicariously now it seems that I too much look forward to the forthcoming Niedecker biography.... Did she or didn't she with Louie? And an abortion? Why should I desire to pry?

A psychoanalytic theoretician would say that laughter defuses, and supports the status quo. Ed Dorn, in ED DORN LIVE (U. of Michigan Press) says he uses it to attack.

August Kleinzahler's fluent poem in an LRB six weeks after his denigration of Zukofsky in that same journal is quite interesting. (I can't help but wonder if his diss of LZ was highly influenced by the late Kenneth Cox, whom he greatly admired. And what was it, really, made Cox change his mind so radically about Zukofsky's poetry, after they met? Was it that Cox was queer and Zukofsky was not?) Although Keith Woolnough dismissed "Shoot The Freak" as prose, let me leave that for the moment. I liked the poem on a first reading, and I was drawn back to several re-readings because there seemed something there underneath which I found disturbing (ok) but also distasteful, and then I came to a perhaps incorrect conclusion that beyond the nastiness of the poet's condescending disdain for the people whose voices speak in the poem, Brooklyn or Queens day-trippers, there is an ethnic and cultural and class-ridden racist and smirking undertone, clearly a defense mechanism, cheap irony.

That kind of nasty irony has become fashionable in London over many years, and Kleinzahler, who has spent time here, apes it. London has become quite a nasty place with 90 knife killings so far this year. Not just gangs. Jack The Ripper's town. Of course there are some who believe still that Powell's old "rivers of blood" speech was prophetic.

In the London literary world, it was recently that Lionel Shriver knifed the corpse of Norman Mailer when she wrote that she was glad that Mailer was dead so she wouldn't have to write a review of the sequel to THE CASTLE IN THE FOREST. Prior to that, Andrew O'Hagen tried to trash Tusitala in a review by saying RLS was really in a closet, and then he babbled on to propound his homosexualist view of Jekyll and Hyde. For anyone interested, see my post for Dec. 20, 2005 on OMOOPART2 (i.e.

I am FIU with all this gay crow jim.

July 22nd was my 38th wedding anniversary, or would have been, might have been.

I need to leave this cosmic vacuum cleaner of London, maybe manage a train to Wales for a few days, or even a Eurostar.... Almost 3 years now since I've been back to Tahiti and Moorea. I keep returning here instead. Perhaps it is no longer my destiny to return there....

No one I am intimate with, and no thing to return to in the U.S. except my apartment in New Jersey. A roof over one's head at least. Due now for an Aug. 21 flight back.

Good to see London friends - Anabel, Elaine (my theatre guru), Gash (Crowley & Hawkwind afficionado), Jim (print shaman) and Annette, Keith, Suko. (Bray (and indigenous Debbie)who I did not catch up with this trip.) However, I seem to have developed a John Betjeman/Philip Larkin mindset about travel to the Continent. Maybe it's just aversion to airports/airplane trips, and now it is wearying travelling alone.

The London I knew continues to vanish. In some ways a good thing. When I first lived here in 1964-'65, little 3x5 cards in shop windows often said EUROPEANS ONLY in To Let (For Rent, in American English) adverts. I remember not phoning/applying for those flats and bedsits because I am American. Obviously I was still quite naive.

Note that the English poet, Kate Ruse, now has a website:

(from London, July 16-30th)