Readers wanted to know all about their celebrities, or at least about my encounters with them. From A-listers and B-listers right down to Z-listers. The whole stupid alphabet top to bottom. Names to be forgotten one day. They needed the publicity and I needed the job. I wasn’t a star fucker—I’ll say that, having come from the newsroom with no more interest in celebrities than any routine reporter. I was a stand-in for star fuckers.
A friend writes: A little re-Joyceing in this wee lonesome blooming Molly Malone. You can hear the genes of Irish genius in the DNABC of this little clamourer. You feel she’s on the verge of channelling Beckett, Behan, O’Casey, O’Brien, Yeats et al, at any moment. A true antidote to popery and nunnery, and the cold, cold kiss of Covid. A little four-leaf clover complaining from beneath the cloven hoof of parental devilry. She must have been fed Guinness in the womb, there’s so much blarney in her tongue. Man, you feel she possesses such alchemical witchery, she could eat Covid, and shit it out the other end as an emerald. A rare little island of hope.
A friend writes from Scotland: “As to Zen arse-wipes. While I was up in a Zen temple in the mountains around Takayama, it fell to me to be the one who had to clean the shit off the wooden slipway that carried the fecal prayers of monks into a dark and forbidding hole (not unlike […]
‘Brion Gysin Let the Mice In’ is a key collaborative work. it represents those late 1950s to early 1960s years when Beat writing met European experimentalism. The most sophisticated intelligence of the Beat Generation was permanently affect.
Gysin is a lucid and witty writer. He gives glimpses of Burroughs at the moment when ‘Naked Lunch’ was being edited for Olympia Press — as he “ranted through the gargantuan roles of Doc Benway, A.J., Clem & Jody,” or as a drug addict, “through the shadows from one pharmacia to another, hugging a bottle of paregoric … his raincoat glinting like the underbelly of a shark.”
. . . when it seems that everybody is looking back over their shoulder more with nostalgia than disgust. I am not immune. Scrolling through some old emails, I came across this one called “from NELSON ALGREN’S LETTERS TO RAJAH.” Rajah was Roger Groening, a friend of Nelson’s and later of mine. Roger died in 2015. I think of him often. He and Nelson became friends, initially by mail, when Roger wrote him a fan letter. They remained friends for some 20 years until Nelson’s death, in 1981.
Hard to believe, but there it is, Your Obituary Is Waiting, listed at #10 this morning in Amazon UK’s top-seller ranking of obituary books. Which goes to show that Amazon’s rankings are, among other things, ridiculous. My “deformed sonnets” are poems not obituaries. But if British readers don’t complain, why should I? The book is also listed at #272 in its “American poetry” ranking. Which might indicate that Amazon UK hasn’t gone totally nuts—except that when I consider the lack of sales of even one copy of the book in either category both lists make as much sense as Donald Trump.
The artist Tomi Ungerer has died at the age of 87. He was “a lifelong activist who protested against racial segregation, the Vietnam war and the election of US President Donald Trump . . .” Speaking about himself as an artist, Ungerer said, “I have the full respect of a piece of white paper, which I then shall rape with my drawing or my writing. When I draw, it’s the real me.”
It is a rare thing when a book comes along that looks as magnificent as Flesh Film and reads like an hallucination. To be clear, Jürgen Ploog is an author who does not write for everyone. The “story” he tells in Flesh Film has the pulpy tone of science fiction, a narrator who sounds like a globe-trotting private […]
Finally, you can buy it in the States without paying the exorbitant cost of international postage. The Z Collection is an illustrated memoir in the form of personal essays about Nelson Algren, William Burroughs, Norman Mailer, Allen Ginsberg, E.L. Doctorow, William Styron, Abbie Hoffman, among others, and about the literary underground of the 1960s. “Herman, a […]
John Bryan published so many underground papers and magazines over three decades — beginning in 1962 with renaissance, a San Francisco literary journal inspired by Aldous Huxley’s Doors of Perception (which John said he read “half a dozen times,” and which turned him onto LSD) — that Warren Hinckle called him “the Peter Zenger of […]