Monday, July 22, 2019

Chicago, that [broken] city. . .

I finished the Nelson Algren biography, a wonderful book. Algren's life was not presented as one in which he had to share Chicago only with Richard Wright, who left, or Saul Bellow, who mainly stayed but also left. Simone de Beauvoir figures prominently in the narrative, as does Algren's entanglement with federal authorities over his involvement with the Communist movement as a young man. The Guardian and The Chicago Sun-Times present news of the day which would fit the Depression-era 1930s when Algren and Wright first became acquainted in the Windy City.

Also, I stumbled upon a blogger who connected Algren's writing with Bukowski's, no doubt because they both so often chose downtrodden misfits and outcasts as their subjects although with Bukowski, he is much more evidently writing about himself through his alter-ego Henry Chinaski. Algren would be the more richly descriptive writer, but Bukowski seems to be the one who has lasted as far as book sales and cultural memory are concerned.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Dear [Gertrude Stein]

Dear Friend--

I am roaming about the country lecturing--getting money to pay for my farm and build a house on it.

Mrs. A[nderson] came to Cincinnati and told me your book had come. I'm glad. Wish I were at home. Will write you when I do get there.

At Pittsburgh yesterday I heard of a young instructor who almost lost his job because he cares for your books.

My new novel is selling. We are coming to Paris next fall--sure.

Every place I go someone corners me and says--"For God sake explain Gertrude Stein." I grin and back away.

Love to Hemingways,

Sherwood Anderson.

~~ from Sherwood Anderson / Gertrude Stein: Correspondence and Personal Essays
     (edited by Ray Lewis White)

Thursday, July 4, 2019

The Bicentennial With Grandpa Andy, Take Two (Or Three)

For names, he called us “Janie” and “Alec,” as close as he could get to Jamie and Alex, but I was more amused than insulted by this. After all, those were slightly unusual, new-fangled hippie names at the time. I didn’t know that there were American grandparents out there who could pronounce the kids’ names, and at least once a week, spoiled them rotten with gifts and money. Of course, there are many grandparents who die before meeting grandchildren, like my mother’s father, who died of a heart attack at 59 from smoking Camel cigarettes and “eating red meat late at night.”

as if he were holding a sacred chalice

Arturo moved ahead of me. He got down on his knees. I thought he was going to pray on behalf of every dirty dish near and far, but instead he picked up a saucer and some brown and sallow food scraps from underneath the machine. Ah,an eye for detail. Like Joyce. Like Proust. And then he rose. Removed from the murkiest depths of the soaking dishes a wide water glass and clutched it to his breasts, as if he were holding a sacred chalice. He lifted it to his lips,and drank. He drank for the poor dishwashers all over the world, and the √©migr√© writers and the starving peasants who’d gladly consume potato scraps from any of this Parisian discard. He drank for Presidential hopefuls to be,for all those around the world who ever tasted the intoxicating liquor of hope and change.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

This is about becoming a father. . .

This is about becoming a father, so it begins with Barack Obama. A week before the 2008 Democratic Primary of South Carolina, K stands in the cold and awaits the candidate’s speech at Clemson. He is high above the lower amphitheater,apart from the crowd. Indeed, there could be thousands below him, young Southerners in search of unity. Or celebrity, some politics of inclusion, an American link to today’s Africa. A smart, cool black guy in their circle of friends. Together, he thinks, we want to feel there is hope. Those of us above the fray, intent on maintaining our peripheral status, stand apart from each other as well. K turns to observe his fellow countrymen, the people he lives among in the foothills of the Blue Ridge. The various souls of Clemson, South Carolina.

Awash in Barach and Bolano

I'm very thankful that Editor-in-Chief Christopher DeGroot published "Awash in Barach and Bolano" as part of The Agonist's Summer 2019 issue.

Summer Agonist

The summer issue of The Agonist is live!

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Auggie's Revenge: Reviews, Interviews, and Excerpts

Book Reviews: "The Teaching Life as a House of Troubles," by Don Riggs, American, British and Canadian Studies , June 1, 2017 ...