The Believer Book Award shortlist. Local favorites S P R A W L and The Orange Eats Creeps are included. Melville House is presenting a new thing, The Indie Booksellers Choice Awards. John Ashbery translated Rimbaud’s Illuminations, and that’s coming out in May, and here’s a rad excerpt over at alan’s blog.
I enjoyed David Lehman’s Signs of the Times: Deconstruction and the Fall of Paul de Man so much when I read it in April that I decided to try my luck with another of his several works of nonfiction. I almost picked up Perfect Murder: A Study in Detection, but I’ve been in a gung-ho poetry mood lately, so instead I opted for The Last Avant-Garde: The Making of the New York School of Poets, a group biography of Frank O’Hara, James Schuyler, Kenneth Koch and John Ashbery. I encountered this Ashbery quip earlier today in the book, and was going to share it as a power quote, but that’s not really in the spirit of Ashbery, besides which now I want to talk about something else, too. Anyway the quote goes like this:
Recklessness is what makes experimental art beautiful, just as religions are beautiful because of the strong possibility that they are founded on nothing. We would all believe in God if we knew He existed, but would this be much fun? (p. 39)
If one were going to have a ‘John Ashbery 101’ course, what would be the syllabus? I want to dig, and am not sure where to start, and don’t really just want to pick up the Selected. Flow Chart I recall being compelled by, as well as Three Poems (I believe it was in the McSweeney’s issue that Justin edited that someone talked about a writing assignment from Donald Barthelme being “get a bottle of wine, a copy of Three Poems, and write four pages in an evening.”). Anyway, help?
And The Olive Reader, the blog presence of Harper Perennial, has yours truly on what he wants for Christmas.
And that’s all that is happening in the world today. Good morning!