So this month, seeing that I can’t decide and I’m a titch manic, I’m reading many books at the same time (I always do that). I like to mix it up, one book from each area usually. I tend to like (like crazy) factual books on mental illnesses/disorders (I’ll read one in two days), poetry books off course, books ON poetry, books about writing, and literary journals. So here’s what I’ve chosen for August:
Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer (I LOVED Tropic of Capricorn in college) OR Black Spring–haven’t decided yet. This is from TIME:
It’s impossible to outdo George Orwell’s wonderfully overstated appraisal of Miller in 1940 —”the only imaginative prose writer of the slightest value who has appeared among the English-speaking races in some time”—but it’s hard not to agree. He’s the thinking man’s slacker, but his prose is a force multiplier—lucid, honest and unhampered by neurotic self-loathing. Tropic of Cancer was not published in the U.S. until 1961, where it set off an obscenity trial that is still one of the great episodes in the history of free speech. Before Kerouac, before Burroughs, Miller disputed all the imperatives of capitalism. He stood before the temple of money and raised the flag of happiness. You have a problem with that?
Read more: http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1951793_1951945_1952861,00.html #ixzz1U7CbOl4G
As for Black Spring, I’m drawn to it for one reason: Norman Mailer, one of my favorite critics/writers, called the book “a wildwater of prose, a cataract, a volcano, a torrent, an earthquake.” We’ll see. Here’s some quotes from Black Spring.
“What is not in the open street is false, derived, that is to say, literature.”Henry Miller, Black Spring (1936)
“For me the book is the man and my book is the man I am, the confused man, the negligent man, the reckless man, the lusty, obscene, boisterous, thoughtful, scrupulous, lying, diabolically truthful man that I am.”Henry Miller, Black Spring (1936)
The next book I’m re-reading because I loved it so much is Ernest Hemingway on Writing by Larry W. Phillips. It’s great to get inside hise head (the little that he allows) and to hear that burly, fuck-it-but-listen advice, many of the parts are from letters to F. Scott Fitzgerald. Here’s some pretty good quotes from the book, but my favorite takes the cake:
“Forget your personal tragedy. We are all bitched from the start and you especially have to be hurt like hell before you can write seriously. But when you get the damned hurt use it–don’t cheat with it. Be as faithful to it as a scientist–but don’t think anything is of any importance because it happens to you or anyone belonging to you.”
Ernest Hemingway, to F. Scott Fitzgerald (Selected Letters)
There are three books of contemporary poetry that I’m go back and forth with–that’s what’s great about those–pick up/leave off.
After I found
my blood in trouble
I could hear its rapid
underground current swell–
terrorists setting tributaries aflame
at low tide.
And I could see
the agony of other rivers–
how they burned, blistered,
wasted into dry beds.
that was the weather.
A purple calm.
Only the barely surviving
echo of hysteria.
There are few birds
and no river dolphins
and it’s unwise to swim.
But these are modest,
the war itself
has floated past
like ordinary days.
the breeze of survival.
In this shallow place,
in shade and therapy,
the task is to remember
the troubled blood of others
and not remember
the bliss of deeper water.
Damn, I love that.
Then there’s Louise Gluck’s Vita Nova, containing many of my favorite poems of hers like “Snow”, “First Memory”, and “The Untrustworthy Speaker.” Her poetry gets to me because it’s about abuse and survival and a little tinge of madness.
My favorite discovery in that book is “Mutable Earth”–holy shit is that good. For someone with C-PTSD and other assortments, this one blew me away.
I fell in love with almost all of the poems so far. If you’re not familiar with this talented young poet, check these poems out:
“Benevolence” at Narrative, and
(here’s a part of “Benevolence”):
Even as I watched my older brother
skin knee after knee, break bone after
always surviving, always
being able to bite down on what
world had given him, what he had made
of it, and still walk along the bases,
the streets, the rugs
of countless therapists, still swallow
pills humming in the bottom of countless paper cups,
his arms bound to the
bed by cotton straps,
the razor he once slid along his arm like a beam of
I couldn’t manage the smallest cut,
the most laughable bruise. When
I walked out
into the backyard and held the rock in my hand
I wanted so
badly not just to throw it, but to hit something and make it hurt.
Lastly, the book I dive into (these books are so interesting to me) is The Stranger in the Mirror: Dissociation, The Hidden Epidemic by Marlene Steinberg, M.D. and Maxine Schnall. It’s pretty good, but that’s for my other blog.
Share your thoughts, let me know if you’ve read these and what you think, or if you have suggestions, or tell me what you’re reading. Anyone else out there read a hundred books at a time?