November 26, 2010

Wanting to do some sort of graph where I chart out who shows up in various books I've read lately. James Sherry, for instance, a minor figure in both Eileen Myles Inferno and also Michael Gottlieb's Memoir and Essay but not in Patti Smith's Just Kids. Richard Hell is in Inferno and in Just Kids and might be in Memoir and Essay (remember at least one reference to punk) and is probably in Kane. Patti Smith is in Inferno but Eileen Myles not in Just Kids. Etc.

All books taking place in same mile radius. Also earlier, same mile covered in Daniel Kane's All Poets Welcome. All describing entirely different literary histories as if they never overlapped. There must be someone in all of them? If not Hell, maybe Ginsberg? Not sure. Would take more work than I can do at this moment.

The Smith and the Gottlieb almost mirror images of the other. The Mapplethorpe of the Gottlieb is Alan Davies (and Gottlieb's love of Davies is the sweet part of this book). The Alan Davies of the Smith is Robert Mapplethorpe.

The Smith is a rosy say nothing bad about anyone sort of book. This is as harsh a thing said in the book, on Allen Lanier: "These extended periods on my own afforded me the time and freedom to puruse my artistic growth, but as time passed, it was revealed that the trust I believed we shared was repeatedly violated, endangering us both and compromising his health. This gentle, intelligent, and seemingly modest man had a lifestyle on the road that was inconsistent with what I believed was our quiet bond." (246).

The Gottlieb almost the reverse. As in why say something good without saying every bad thought one has thought right before it: "Michael Gizzi came up to me after a reading up in Great Barrington a few years and said, 'Man, that was great. But you read so, so slow." I looked at him and thought to myself--this third generation-removed bebop wannabe scat poet who's been trying vainly to channel Kerouac's voice since he was fifteen, who reads so fast that every poem sounds like one long sentence strung together, has the gall to criticize me? And, on top of it, the long poem I've just finished reading is in fact dedicated to him, of all people. But then I realized, of course, that he had a point. Michael Gizzi was right." (p. 56)

And then ugh, gender. Kane keeps apologizing for the sexism of his subjects. And forgiving it as performance, as just the way it was. But the Myles book suggests a parallel feminist scene happening at the exact same time that doesn't seem to show up anywhere else. In the Gottlieb very few women even get names; they are called by their relationship status, "wife," "girlfriend," etc. Hannah Weiner appears only as someone who was jealous of some girlfriend he had once, a dancer.

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