Literary fuses III

December 30, 2008 § Leave a comment

#1 The Figured Wheel Robert Pinsky’s collected poems (bought for a dollar at the ½ Price remainder rack). Again baffled at the whole poetry/publishing/academic matrix. As a book it is a lovely package, cover, layout etc…But not one line jumps out and claims your emotions or love or loyalty. Not a line of risk, of ambition, or daring, let alone savagery. It’s all so safe. Sensitive writing, yes, careful description, yes; but where is the fucking poetry? He uses the word “heart” (that puts anyone on my shitlist) in fact, includes it in the title of his 1984 book: Poets! Remember this was a word Woodrow Wilson used to get American boys to throw their bodies into the breach in 1918! His essay on Psychiatrists is a piece of buffoonery. Lightweight dithering. Who gives a shine about psychiatrists anyway? And then you’re pissed because you want to like this guy…

#2 Don DeLillo: you read his depictions, his observations funny finely honed finalities of observation; they are often brutal often brilliant, e.g., the way technology changes us, e.g. “we don’t pick up” (the answering machine) not “we’re not home.” The concept of not being home is destroyed. His observations are like glass: beautiful to look at but will shatter if you handle them too roughly. You sense that he tries too hard, sees too much. DeLillo stares at the picture of the boat on the water so long, so hard that the boat in the picture starts to move. Things become sinister, while he offers up too much of the private self to the storms of public madness. For DD a cigar is never just a cigar. It’s a conspiracy, a symbol, a plan – BUT human beings are weirder bouncier more supple than he gives us credit for. Slavery has to qualify as about the most degraded institution that good ol’ demonic human mind could devise; but how did blacks deal with it? What tools did they use to get over? They didn’t all commit mass suicide. They talked to themselves, sang to themselves, came up with new and weird ways of being…there’s more bounce to us to humans than writers give us credit for…

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