Three matters upon which to rapidly tap here.
1) This is the finest deployment of a narrative ankle I’ve ever read. No surprise it’s Eileen Myles ankle in her first person piece “On the Excruciating Pain of Waiting for Love.”
“My natural state was so out of control that it had to be medicated almost to death and since I didn’t want to die I had nothing but this, running and sex. I would twist my ankle again and again.”
This ankle captures something so precisely. It captures how the brain does its own thing and how the body attempts to speak back to it or how we push the body to do so. It captures how a person might try to say, no fuck you brain you will not sink me because I am running away from you or is it toward you? Anyway it’s marvellous how that twisted ankle and running and rerunning on it manages to speak to and of humanity and how it is that humanity never entirely recovers from its own ankles.
2) MARTIN JOHN has arrived in Dublin via Holyhead.
John Self very thoughtfully reviewed Martin John in The Guardian. I appreciated his point about trolls and more besides.
The Sunday Telegraph had things to say about him too: Including cinq étoiles.
There’s very little that silences me but Eileen Battersby’s review of Martin John in The Irish Times has managed it. I am quite stunned by this review. My constant refrain inside my rust-inclined brain is that I just need smart readers. I don’t need big prize cheques, just smart, curious readers who engage with literature. I also need time to read and write. Time will come if the smart readers come and buy my books. The exciting thing about this review * is it might bring some readers. It might bring readers because … well read it and decide.
(* I realize the role of a critical review is to be an engaging piece of writing in its own right. Its role is not a sales pitch. That’s catalogue and back cover copy. But writers are equally nothing without readers and readers find writers sometimes through reading criticism. I certainly do)
3) To celebrate these reviews I am now going to read Thomas Bernhard’s Wittgenstein’s Nephew. I only recently discovered Bernhard when my friend visual artist/writer Marina Roy (Sign after the X) told me about him and gave me a copy of Extinction. Wittgenstein’s Nephew has to be the greatest literary vehicle ever for a set of lungs. A pulmonary classic!
Bernhard is so funny and grimly particular about the happiness in unhappiness and in this book, the disregarded literary potential in the thoracic. I read some lines in this novel, and even at this early stage of our reading relationship, think ONLY Bernhard could have written this.
“Like Paul, I woke up in a hospital bed on the Wilhelminenberg, almost totally destroyed through overrating myself and the world”
“..or at any rate I would certainly not be the person I am today, so mad and so unhappy, yet at the same time happy”
Myles on moolah and more over at Full Stop. Smart, incisive, and pragmatic.
“I do think it’s possible to make a living doing my writing but you have to be willing to live badly which I frequently do. There’s lots of blogs to write for instance and oddly even if they “pay” you you have to wait longer than ever before. While everything’s electronic pay checks are moving slower than ever before. You could blame the post office but I blame politics for that too. Increasingly though the belief is that you must be an academic or a publishing heavy if you are writing about books and you are obviously making your income elsewhere or else you are new or young or wealthy already and are just now climbing into prominence and need the “exposure.” So there’s less respect than ever for the idea that a writer or even a aloud reader of her work needs to get paid. There’s much shame about $ and that during an economic downturn. I find this trend to be deeply immoral. So the desire to make a living as a writer is a true perversion in this culture but I think we need our perverts more than ever.”
Myles on class and language, class in language and more over at Trop
Everything’s about class in some way, in the same way that everything about sex is about class. Everything about language is about class. You’re always giving a huge amount of information, and you’re always speaking as a member of a certain group in a way. It’s never without context. I’m very aware of that. When I first started writing poetry—especially because I was young and I had no idea who I was or who or what was speaking or who or what was making these poems—I made up a bit of a character who was quite a lot like me and decided that they were writing my poems. I exteriorized some of the things that actually made up my own identity. And I thought of all of the different ways of speaking I heard when I was growing up and what I liked and didn’t like. I’ve always been obsessed with the sonorous qualities of speech and with what figures of speech can most appropriately be said in conversation as opposed to in a poem.
and from the same Trop interview:
“There’s a kind of anywhere-ness and an anyone-ness that’s really exciting and important to me in language—that language not be of a particular privileged class. All class is a privilege, even the lowliest have a vernacular that is all their own that they use to keep people in and keep people out.”
When I think about being female I think about being loved. What I mean by that: I have a little exercise I do when I present my work or speak publicly or even write (like this). In order to build up my courage I try to imagine myself deeply loved.
GO HERE AND READ THE REST: http://www.theawl.com/2011/02/being-female
Nobody rocks it the way Eileen does. Print it up and read it on those days when it needs to be read.
Film fest time means curling queues on grid like streets. I was thinking of going to see a doc on Norman Bateson — hence the essay link. Then I switched thought to heading out to Alan Gilsenan’s Liamy Clancy doc, but a walk in our lucky to be dry evening sent me home back to Eileen Myles novel Inferno instead. If I want New York, I got New York right here in this here bewk.