Thursday, September 12, 2013

Existing in New York City: Do I Have to Read Cormac McCarthy?

Foto by tgw, "History of a Cloud," New York City, August 2013
Say Goodbye to: Carolyn Cassady, the original Beat girl and wife of Neal Cassady and lover of Jack Kerouac, a woman who had a fabulous life long outliving all the Beats: Carolyn Cassady, 90, American-born British Beat Generation writer, wife of Neal Cassady.
Say Goodbye to: Fred Katz, said to be the first jazz celloist (though Oscar Pettiford may really have that honor).  I first "met" Fred in the movie Jazz on a Summer's Day when he was working with the Chico Hamilton (Chico's miraculously still alive) Quintet.  Fred Katz, 94, American jazz cellist and composer.
Do I Have to Read Cormac McCarthy?
He was born in Providence, Rhode Island.  My ancestral family is from Rhode Island.  He grew up in Tennessee.  My mother's side of my family came from Tennessee.  He lived in El Paso, Texas.  I grew up in West Texas and at one time hung out in El Paso, falling in love with an El Paso girl, digging the writing of John Rechy, and having a wife who had a membership in the Juarez Race Track Jockey Club,  He then moved to Tesuque, New Mexico, just north of Santa Fe, and I lived for many years in Santa Fe long before he did.  He shuns publicity and interviews and was poor as Job's turkey at times during his life.  I, too, shun publicity and interviews (yes, I've been interviewed by a magazine once) and I've been as poor as Job's turkey and not too many years ago, living for several weeks on nothing but Snickers bars and small regular coffees.  He's been married three times and so have I.  He has kids...and there he's got me.  The woman I love tells me those are inane reasons to not read this man, though she admits she's afraid to read him.

Cormac McCarthy is right about writing.  It is a deeply private profession. 

And also, I read in a Texas Monthly article on him that he likes Olympia typewriters and my first typewriter that I bought new was a snazzy red Olympia typewriter.  I'm sure he uses a computer now, though maybe not.  My brother found it impossible to give up writing on a typewriter, Underwoods were his favorites, even after someone gave him a word processor (remember those?). 

Of course, my girlfriend is right.  I'm giving stupid comparisons as reasons not to read the guy.  And speaking of comparisons, I see through critics, he's compared to William Faulkner.  I'm so damn old-fashioned, I don't want to read anyone who is rewriting Faulkner.  I've never read Reynolds Price for that reason.  When I was a young naive writing novice, I thought Faulkner hung the moon.  After reading Mosquitos when I lived in New Orleans, I used to go over to the Bourbon House and sit at a table with a plaque on it that said Faulkner used to sit there and write and I wrote in school-kid notebooks my Mosquitos.  And once sitting there I wrote a story that thrilled me so I sent it to the Southern Review and I got a long rejection notice back from Louis P. Simpson (he had just revived the Review after it had shut down due to WWII) saying my story had been considered but at the last minute it hadn't quite made the grade.  In the next issue of the magazine where my story should have been they introduced a Canadian writer named Joyce Carol Oates.  Because of that, I never have read her and when I've tried to read her, I was so critical of her I never got passed the first paragraphs of the works of hers I was trying to read.  But then I have no reason to be jealous of Cormac McCarthy like I am of Joyce Carol Oates.

I've currently embarked on reading early American writers of the 19th Century.  Writers like Charles Brockden Brown, George Lipperd, Washington Irving, Francis Parkman, John Lloyd Stephens, James Fennimore Cooper, et al.  I'm appreciating these writers' sophisticated use of the English language and how marvelously they use that language to describe this country's rise out of Nature to knock at the door of Civilization, yes, a Civilization based on European attitudes yet still rebellious enough to be especially American in the sense of how commercialized vulgarity arises out of the free-flowing raw beauty of the country the way it was when it was "savage" and controlled by what these early White Americans considered "savages," though all these writers truly respect the Native Americans in terms of their respect for the land and sea and a strictly natural way of life.  These early American writers soon prove Nature is most civilized while the evolving civilization is most savage.  The White man is the savage in these fictional and nonfictional views of early America.  Their heroes are those who venture (in adventure) into the beautiful but vicious American wilderness and survive in it.  I suppose this, too, is what Cormac McCarthy is writing about.  I know it's really what I write about.

One never knows how long one can hold out against coming up-to-date.  Most "modern" writers I've read bore me.  I can see the academic influence on their work.  Well-crafted but not innovational like that of Hawthorne, Gertrude Stein, Hemingway, Faulkner, James Joyce, Thomas see, I'm rolling out a list of the writers who have influenced me and I would bet you, given his age (he's older than I am), these are the same writers who influenced Cormac McCarthy.

But all in all, my girlfriend's right, I'm giving inane reasons for not reading Cormac McCarthy (what's his reason for not reading me?).
Obama and the Fools Who Surround Him
To me, the antics of President Obama and John "Ketchup Slurpin" Kerry and that idiot John "Failed Mission" Mc Cain over their reasons to want to bomb Syria back to the Stone Age are embarrassing as hell.  President Obama (whose hair is getting gray he's lied so much) especially is so embarrassing when he apes George W. Bush in spouting out his Neo-Con arguments for why we should stick our nose in the civil-war affairs of Syria.  And doubly embarrassing was John "Cornball" Kerry aping Colon "Lyin' Dog" Powell with his unproven proofs of Assad, our new Middle East demon, using chemical weapons.  Jesus, what a frightening bunch of Ivy League liars these deceivers are.   Hypocrites!!!  And how pathetic was Ol' Sag-eyed Charlie Rose's interview with Assad?  I've never liked Charlie Rose...never...especially since when my brother was on his show many years ago and Charlie said my brother was one of his best friends and when I asked my brother about it he said he'd never met Charlie Rose before that interview in his life.  Hypocrites!!!

for The Daily Growler

The Photographic Art of Irving Browning

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