Friday, July 31, 2009
If you would like to receive a copy of the first chapter of Hampton Armpit by Myrna Barp (B.A.) send me your name and address and I'll bung an edition in the post. (Europe, U.K., U.S.A. - wherever you are). ABSOLUTELY FREE & No Strings Attached. Call it summer madness.
Lacking the Amazon 'Look Inside' option, here's the opening sequence to whet your appetite:
It was North October in the quaint village of Hampton Armpit. The sun advanced. Years continued.
Inside the house, last century Gothic stained the staircase, an ecclesiastical effect of lace curtains. Mustiness struggled heavily about the rooms.
An implication had been found among the laundry.
Upstairs Miss Doggit was struggling with the tin hooks of her Balmoral dress.
While, with the other hand, Texts VII & VIII are now in place. I'm not sure whether the sequence will go to X or have the energy to for XII.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Texts I-VI are now in place.
The composure of the poem. Entering by a different door. Collaboration with not knowing.
A Negative Capability Brown.
(Brown's "grammatical" landscapes. At Hampton Court, Brown encountered Hannah More in 1782 and described his manner in her terms: "'Now there' said he, pointing his finger, 'I make a comma, and there' pointing to another spot, 'where a more decided turn is proper, I make a colon; at another part, where an interruption is desirable to break the view, a parenthesis; now a full stop, and then I begin another subject'".)
It was Paul Cavacuiti who first turned me on to Pynchon. (Oddly enough he also lent me the ropey C90 with a tantalizing fragment of Zappa's 'Watermelon in Easter Hay' and so ever since Pynchon and Zappa have been linked in my mind).
How to convey the frisson of reading these first stories? The cover art, dodgy printing, small limited issue format - this was the late 70s before Amazon, Abebooks, eBay where nowadays you can find just about anything if you've the time, patience and Visa card. Where did I find these volumes? Maybe amid the ramshackle shelving of Foyles Fiction department, Collets down the road, or was it Compendium? I never tracked down 'Entropy' to make the collection complete. For that I had to call it up from the bowels of the Bodleian. It arrived in a brown wallet, tied around with string - I was still adolescent enough to feel that this was like dipping into some arcane pornography.* Would MI5 get my number? Conspiracies shadowed me as I left the Reading Room ...
Then Picador spoiled it all by bringing out The Slow Learner including Pynchon's introduction where he was even brazen enough to mention Zappa. What! But that was our secret! Only I had made this connection!
Maybe this was the thrill of Pynchon - a sense of active paranoia in the very acquisition and furtive reading of the texts. We were all Oedipas on the quest of our personal Pierce Inverarities. Pynchon made library burrowing and footnote trawling sexy, hush-hush, a nod and a wink. We were all onto something (no idea what - but who cared?). Why, probably, I can't get remotely excited about Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code. I didn't even find Eco's Name of the Rose that compelling (too much like research being rehashed into fiction).
The last book I read by Pynchon was Vineland and that badly. It came out at the wrong time for me and since then I've not found the time or inclination to get back in The Zone. Mason Dixon stands like a massive slab on the bookcase - when will I find the time, though? I don't even dare buy the more recent stuff.
I'd love to recover that excitement - the crazy sense of urgency that sent me round London bookstores at the rumour that a new Pynchon novel had been published (only to discover it was an April Fool in Time Out); the wide-eyed wow factor of seeing an actual photo of The Man. (And was that Him - my Dark Angelo - hiding his face on the cover of 'Mortality and Mercy in Vienna'?).
Those were the days ...
* Reading early Iain Sinclair volumes of poetry in the Poetry Library - the original editions - had something of a similar effect some years later. The Paladin reprints have none of the nastiness, insinuations, occult menace. Mass paperbacks really can kill the visceral charge of some writing.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Monday, July 27, 2009
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Friday, July 24, 2009
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
La Meteo: clammy & wet. Armpit weather.
Insanely, a day spent tidying.
I go through a cupboard and dust off so many blank notebooks it leaves me feeling a) embarrassed, b) utterly worthless, c) ridiculously profligate.
Question: who - in their right mind - would buy so many?
Answer: an Eternal Optimist.
The Tantalizing Promise of Writing.
This said, the sheer process of sorting through old files - that's actual card & plastic ones - unearthing aborted projects, scraps of paper with forgotten scribbles, notebooks with the first few pages filled, lists of To Dos ... is oddly therapeutic. Stirring things up from the silt of years gone by. The same principle as composting, I suppose.
My black cat/is in the living room
with a motorbike
I seed it
I sawed it
(When, where... why ... did I write this?)
Tomorrow we're back to what passes for 'normal' in this house.
So, no more excuses.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Fans of Keith Waldrop will know why this delivers such a buzz.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Thursday, July 02, 2009
Wednesday, July 01, 2009
I'd been toying with the idea of doing something with old tram & rail tickets. A few hours this afternoon gave me a chance to start playing around. Here are the results. Terribly slow on the uptake, it really hadn't occurred to me before the homophonic possibilities of the Flemish "Rit" and "Ritten". Thus travel and writing really do coincide ...
Favourite Lines from Niedecker
there is a dee round silence
in the sound
this going without tea holds a hope of tasting it
‘Promise of Brilliant Funerals’
But that was before the library burned
As one Somnambulist to another
our sleep could be more perfect
opera is an oversight
on the part of the Milky Way
Last lines being sentimental
I must possess myself, get back to pure duration
Stop quietly in print the one available weather
A touch of moon?
less to lift plants from the habits of their whorls
Someone has said: rapid lighted pimperly advanced
Memory is blue in the head?
Move on from brown laterals of the same day, ascertain oneself
center of climatic being
dusking the nounal
I must have been washed in listenably across the landscape
For the emotion of fall has its seat in the acoustic gland
It’s what comes of looking way back on the upper right
shelf of the lower left cupboard
To jesticulate in the rainacular or novembrood
in the sunconscious
They pop practical in a greyfold, bibbler and dub –
one atmosnoric pressure for the thick of us