Monday, June 25, 2007

Literacy & Idiocy

Now that the final volume of Harry Potter is sluicing down its magical pike into the eager arms of the world, I want to focus on a few of those arms-- those of the adult readership. Listen, I could care less about precocious pubesscent English magicians and everyone is entitled to read what they wish. But I see so many adults reading this pap; if they are serious readers, they might apt for an Anita Desai or Dan Brown novel. John Grisham, Maeve know the kind of sub par to middling "literature" that caters to third grade reading levels and preschool emotional sensibilities. I would rather illiteracy spread through the populace like a rash then see the continued trend of adults reading trash. Not reading is preferable to reading shit, to my mind. And how about Oprah's Book Club? Is a readership that got its clues & cues about what to read from a TELEVISION PROGRAM going to really do the serious work of getting down and dirty with Ms. Winfrey's suggested reading list? Really grasp a book like A Light in August? Enough to say they stuck to this tv trend, become an apostle to Oprah's editorial staff's lit picks,
and throw house parties discussing the handful of pages they got through. Let's allow people to marinate in their ignorance, seek over-stimulation in television, video games, ipods, cell phones, text messages, and let devolution allow the martians to have an easier time of it once they decide to conquer. MARTIN SCRIBLERUS

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Deep in the Jungle

Am currently blitzing through the final volume (the third) of Norman Sherry's THE LIFE OF GRAHAM GREENE & reading vignettes about one of Greene's acquaintances who I met ten years ago. The Belgian Michel Lechat, long recognized as the leading specialist in leperosy and who contributed mightily to its eradication in the Third World, was working and living in the Congo when Greene came to do fieldwork for his novel, A BURNT-OUT CASE. Travelling home from China, I sat beside Monsieur Lechat on a flight out of Narita Airport, Tokyo. He was reading a French translation of a Keats biography and we got to talking. In only the space of a few hours, he showed himself to be a polymath and one of the most compassionate individuals I've ever met. I've thought about looking him up because his indelible presence, the way his person lent itself to changing the atmosphere around him, is so rare in this world of smoke, mirrors, sound bytes, snippets, high-speed dial-ups, and modern indifference.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Suburban compline

These hours are palpable, they are velvet banners
parting in front of you like carwash ribbons,
sluicing in through your car’s open windows,
a languid tide of ink. These hours bear up to you
the somnolent scents of this drowsing town,
an ozone incense of air conditioners,
the breath of plants snoozing in peated gardens,
thick spice of lawns lovingly mowed and seeded
on Sundays before churchtime.
These are anchoritic hours, haunted only by the housecat
stepping from one cool puddle of lamplight
to another, when your headlights distort neighbors’ bushes
into zodiacs and savage topiaries, searching
each parked car you pass for anyone else awake.

In the driveway, with the car switched off,
the quiet rushes in, an orchestral fill of many parts.
From down the street comes the white noise
of sprinklers switching on in succession,
each sweeping a Poisson distribution of dots
etching a deeper, random darkness
into parabolae of sidewalk and street.
The electric sound of sprinkler heads
like battalions of marching feet,
approaching, building, until their carriage returns.

Your car wickers and ticks itself to sleep,
still divesting itself of its highway heat.

The sound of your door closing
sets a dog somewhere to barking, once.

In the mulchy night, rinsed with cricketsound
and manmade rain, you at last take off your shoes,
your socks. You will be the only one all day
to feel how fond this grass is of your naked skin.
You crush the clipped blades, feeling dew
ooze between your toes, as the lush scent of the jungle plants
on neighbor’s porch wells up around you,
winds you in its tender tendrils,
takes you in,
you a wild thing, too.

Mark Aiello

Monday, June 11, 2007

Next stop: Deacon Blue Cafe

Last Wednesday I participated in a literary reading with, among others, the marvelous poet Samuel Menashe. The venue was the Deacon Blue Cafe at 417 Prospect Place in Brooklyn, between Grand and Classon, just several blocks up Washington Avenue from the Brooklyn Art Museum. The joint was jumping with words setting themselves spinning in all different directions. Usually literary readings are as enticing as open casket funerals: there is either much monotony and uniformity in the material being read or egos supersede timekeeping and one is subject, no, held hostage, to 45 minutes of tedious palaver. The Deacon Blue reading series is winningly electic and electric: besides Samuel Menashe and myself, there was a fine short story reader, a free-style hip-hop ranter, and a raconteur with a hilarious tale about domestic mischief in an African-American family set in the rural South during the fifties. If any of you wish to spin some fables, verse, or whatnot, let me know: we'll organize a reading with the series organizer, Michael Dorr, and welcome summer with some quality artists: you! j. curley

Sunday, June 03, 2007

On Your Markson

Just finished reading THE LAST NOVEL by David Markson, described in one otherwise praising review as "geriatric postmodern fiction." Damning praise, that is; the book is actually another vital narrative assemblage of literary anecdotes, sketches, fragments, and feuilletons by David Markson, which echoes and helps form the subtle trajectory of the "Novelist." This character is at once the author's alter ego but also a general cipher for the universal questing creator. The various shards and mini-annals elucidate the anxieties of literary legacy, mortality, the unusual fates of artists, the under-illuminated tensions at heart in artistic creation. Markson is a master and I hope his career belies the title of this wonderful book. I look forward to THE NEXT TO LAST NOVEL, out of sequence, adjacent to the last but after it, and continuing Markson's stunning literary achievements. CURLEY