Saturday, April 08, 2006

"Aeronautics" by Harry Crosby

Surrealism's somewhat heavy hand certainly shows in this stream-of-whacked-out-consciousness escapade from playboy poet Harry Crosby, first published in the famous modernist magazine transition. The litany of bizarre visions all ends, not unsurprisingly for those who know their Crosby, in awe of the mighty power of the sun. Read by Scoot. Time 7:16.

Those who have read Geoffrey Wolfe's bestselling biography of Harry Grew Crosby know already the short, sweet facts of his life: escape from moneyed but straightlaced Boston Brahmins, flight to bohemian paradise with flighty wife, founding of press to publicize his work and that of other American ex-pats, double-suicide with someone not his wife. But Crosby is also an interesting writer if taken in small doses, and his diaries especially reveal the heady excitement and glamour of those far-off halcyon days of Paris in the 1920's. What other dilettante could boast that T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, and D. H. Lawrence all endorsed his work? (Well, sure, there were some literary kickbacks via the Black Sun Press.) If we had the money and an opium habit, Harry Crosby would be our role-model, too.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

"The Ghosts of August" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Traveling in Italy, a couple and their young children visit a famous writer who lives in a semi-ruined palazzo in the hills, an enormous place with, of course, a secret. Ghosts may indeed walk in the noonday Tuscan sun. Translated by Edith Grossman. Read by Scoot. Time 6:44.

Cien aƱos de soledad has never been one of our favorites here (a little long, isn't it?), but, hey--who are we to argue with so many people who do worship that book? Besides, we really do admire his short stories, especially the ones saddled with that bugaboo description "magic realism." There is no doubt that Garcia Marquez is one of the most famous and important writers in the modern world, a Colombian who helped make Latin American fiction trendy and whose every publication is something of an event. And he's a friend of Fidel! We point you next to his (much better) short story A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings, which you can find over there at Miette's site.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

"On the Sidewalk" by John Updike

April Fool? OK--it's not really Jack Kerouac; it's John Updike imitating On the Road, of course, when Updike was very young and Kerouac was still a new sensation. Bet we didn't fool anyone. Read by Scoot. Time 6:34.

John Updike, John Updike, John Updike: prolific, prolix (perhaps), and peculiarly poetic to plenty of people. His short stories tend to get overshadowed by his novels, especially the more lapinate ones, but At the A&P is still deservedly in lots of anthologies out there and many of his humorous or more sardonic pieces (such as this) can be found beyond the pages of the New Yorker, his home away from home for so many years. His territory may be a little north and a little cautious of John Cheever (another writer we have yet to get to here), but it is somewhat similar in its examination of middle-class angst and couples on the brink of divorce or worse. And that's the furthest we're going to examine the many works of Mr. Updike--most of which we haven't read! Just find one of his books, read the jacket flap, and you'll know the rest.