Sunday, April 29, 2007

Stephen Shames & the Black Panthers

Last week I swung by Steven Kasher Gallery (521 West 23rd St., Chelsea, and had the opportunity to marvel at rare black and white photo prints of the Black Panthers. Incredible images to match their inimitable voices. The militancy is on view but so are private moments, lighter moments, really giving a sense of dimension to these courageous men and women. A book of the photographs, published by Aperture, is on sale at the gallery for $35--and it's worth it. Stop by, take it in, get inspired.
Martin Scriblerus

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Cultural Society! Dos Madres! Spring Has Sprung Rhythm!

Springtime is time for idylls and the modern version for me in the urban demesne is poetry. The Cultural Society, of which I'm co-editor, has just released THAT ABRUPT HERE, a powerful collection by Joel Bettridge. Tender, callous, despising and despairing, Bettridge's lines aspire to metaphysical uplift but find their trajectories faltering, spirits diminished, and perplexed. Wonderful work-- you can order it at

Dos Madres Press, a small press in a small town--with large ambitions and sundry splendid publications, have just released acclaimed poet Michael Heller's EARTH & CAVE, a memoir of
his time in Nerja, Spain during the sixties, under Franco, amid the grandeur of the natural landscape. The book fuses memoir with memoiristic poetry--a thoroughly delightful book that comes with a CD of Heller reading. Also from Dos Madres--Burt Kimmelman's THERE ARE WORDS, a poetry volume that also includes a CD. Kimmelman is to my mind the most gifted of the post-Objectivist lyricists for whom minimalism is not a fault but a miraculous control. These spare poems are grand gestures. You can track down both volumes at Enjoy this spring thing immersed in verse!~j curley

Monday, April 23, 2007

Hey there, Harry!

Whatever changes The Paris Review has undergone since George Plimpton passed away, the Interviews have sustained their depth, delights, and insights. The new issue has a giddy, engaging interview with Harry Matthews, the only American member of OULIPO, the Workshop for Potential Literature. What a life, what a man! His most recent novel (advertized as an "autobiographical novel" (!)), MY LIFE IN CIA, was published a little over a year ago and it's another bravura performance. If you live in NYC, there are a few copies of the "novel"
on the remainder table of St. Mark's Bookshop, 31 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10003....
Katy O'Farrell

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

PEN, Words, Swords, 'Zounds...

Can someone explain the virtues of international and, for that matter, internationally acclaimed, authors getting together to discuss literacy, computer culture, elitism, human rights violations, et cetera? Yes, there is the 'pure good' of this kind of discourse but the gab emitted from these writers' mouths often obscures the passivity of their buttocks (not to mention the hot air of some of their emanations and backsides). Where are the real activist women and men? True action-eers as well as auteurs? From the sidelines, it seems, the focus can be clarified. But can the issues under focus be fought for and fought against? Collective activism--whatever form it could take-- and not independent voices into thin air, might be one of many answers. I write this as the New School for Social Research in Manhattan hosts the PEN International Writing Conference. The white noise, yes, I can hear it cascading across the Village, across the East River, and into mine own ears...
Martin Scriblerus

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Roberto Bolano Redux

Wonderfully, the newly translated novel of Chilean demi-god, Roberto Bolano, The Savage Detectives, lists his dates as simply the following: "1953-" Yes, Bolano died four years ago but his work lives on and the designation of his life unended is an unintended symbol of his immortal presence. The pen lives, so too does the man. -curley

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


This is what it means, I think – remember
that drunken cab ride and what you said about the fiction
implicit in the neatness of any border, any boundary?
The pretence that Belgravia ends at the traffic light
where the map says Pimlico begins, as if
one street corner was obviously different
from the one opposite, or the change in postal codes
was a tectonic rift, something you could trip over
at the halfway point of the crosswalk, when instead we know
that neighborhoods unfold themselves more slowly
than a taxi meter could ever measure.
And then we found ourselves suddenly at Paddington,
unable to recall the names of the sad hotels we’d passed,
or how many corner shops, or pubs, and the park itself
had been just a blur of black fence posts,
each an uncounted gradation of our progress.

So it’s more than any trick your tongue does
within the word “Wednesday”, more
than any shortcut through “Baltimore” or even
“Toronto”. It’s how your memory folds an ending
back into its beginning, and makes every minor transition
you’ve gone through along the way seem both additive
and inevitable.

Or maybe it’s more like that time in Nice,
how each day the sky bled lilac
long past dinnertime and we could never quite say
what moment marked the end of the afternoon
and which was the first gatepost of the night.
And after our walk back to our humid hotel room
we were all unions and junctures,
and even the skin of our bellies clung to each other;
maybe that’s the meaning that gets skipped over
inside that one odd word.

Mark Aiello

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Oh, Oprah! Killer Cormac & the Crazy Ladies

So, as everyone knows, Oprah has just endorsed Cormac MacCarthy's most recent novel, THE ROAD, an allegory of the apocalypse as I suppose it will occur in the modern world (funny how doomsayers are now religious evangelists or novelists lacking ideas). Well, altho' I'm a woman,
I'm neither middle-class nor middle-aged nor interested in the middling entertainment and advice of Oprah and her audience. But I'm intriqued by the prospect of Oprah's minions reading Cormac's backlog, titles like SON OF GOD and BLOOD MERIDIAN. These fine tomes contain visceral scenes of bodily mutilation, masturbation, necrophilia, and, well, lots of viscera. Guts and grimness abound, they do. Will some of these housewices adopt the fine art of scalping, have heart attacks, or lose their minds? I look forward to the results...KATY O'FARRELL

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

International Roberto Bolano Day

Today, April 3, 2007, Farrar Straus Giroux releases the late Chilean novelist Roberto Bolano's
The Savage Detectives, an English translation of his 1998 masterpiece. The publication of this volume is a milestone for literature. Read it and be astonished. curley

Monday, April 02, 2007

Thank You, Dr. Johnson

One can never find the mot juste for "le monde injuste," but perhaps phrases can encompass and not compress a historical age. I find the following quote to be an apt comment on this larval stage of the millennium. It is from Dr. Samuel Johnson's A JOURNEY TO THE WESTERN ISLANDS OF SCOTLAND: "To be ignorant is painful; but it is dangerous to quiet our uneasiness by the delusive opiate of hasty persuasion."

I think the good Doctor's musing is not only eloquent but precisely utilitarian: how many quotations do you know can be applied so generally in the current world without becoming a generalization?
Martin Scriblerus