Shake It For the World, Smartass
One of my favorite books is a collection of essays by Seymour Krim called Views of a Nearsighted Cannoneer. Even putting it that way is an understatement. I first read it as a teenager (no little while ago, then) and have lost count how many times I've revisited it in the meantime. Krim put together two later volumes of his pieces -- each interesting in its way, but somewhat anticlimatic in the wake of Views, which is an extraordinary mixture of criticism, memoir, fiction, and cultural commentary.
To begin to account for its fascination, let alone to chart its effect on my sense of life, would take some while. And a blog is hardly the venue for such an effort.
But it's the right forum for recommending a new piece on his work by Mark Cohen. He treats Krim both as figure strangely missing from recent treatments of the Beat generation and as a writer deeply marked by a complicated relation to his own Jewish identity. I think the case could be made that Krim is also an important figure in the emergence of the New Journalism, but he's been pretty completely ignored in that respect as well.
It's an interesting essay, and its emphases do make sense. But I also have to say that Krim's remarks on his own Jewishness were never central to my reading of him, which always treated that as just one possible particular focus for the experience of self-consciousness and estrangement.
If you grow up in redneck fundamentalist-land and read whole bunch of Sartre, then Krim will probably speak to your condition -- margin of ethnic overlap or no..
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