Posts tagged us
No one reads Rudolph Wurlitzer (b. 1937, Texas), that is, if Barthelme and Pynchon—advocates of Wurlitzer’s Nog—don’t count, and if I don’t include the small cult following that the book has had since its debut in 1969. Still, by my esoteric calculations, Wurlitzer could use some more exposure, especially for his later works, e.g., Flats and Quake.
Fans of Beckett, Denis Johnson, and Bukowski—just to name a few kindred spirits—should definitely give Wurlitzer a read.
For more about Rudy, see:
- “Wurlitzer’s Wiles”, Gary Indiana’s survey of Wurlitzer’s books
- Jeremy Hatch’s short, and perceptive, essay on Nog at the Quarterly Conversation
- The official Rudolph Wurlitzer website
- The IMDB listing of Wurlitzer’s filmography
(Image: the 1970 Pocket Books edition; I couldn’t find any artist credit in the paperback—contacted the publisher, still waiting for a reply)
Architectural dreamwork, end-times seascapes so barren they seem cut from the pages of the Bible, coolly-rendered Rube Goldberg apparati, and the crushing sadness that results when you tie your emotional fortunes to a person whose tongue is so fat in his mouth he can barely speak, mark this little masterpiece of a novel. Cast as a soliloquy in the form of a ship’s log, a grief report from someone who has no good insurance she will ever be heard, the novel moves fluidly between its major forms: love song, a treatise on gardening at sea, an argument against the company of others, and a dark science expo for exquisite inventions like a hybrid lichen that makes things invisible. Published by Alfred A. Knopf under the editorial guidance of Gordon Lish, the fiction world’s singular Quixote—a champion of innovative styles and formal ambition—there may have been no better year  in which to tuck such an odd, exquisite book. Instead of rushing for relevance and breaking the news, Crawford was taking the oldest news of all—it is strange and alone here, even when we are surrounded by people, and there is a great degree of pain to be felt—and reporting it as nautical confessional. The result, now thirty-six years later, seems to prove that interior news, the news of what it feels like to want too much from another person, will not readily smother under archival dust.
No one reads Marguerite Young, though my god! we all should. From her obituary in the New York Times:
Afterward she became a legend: the woman with the pageboy haircut who looked like W. H. Auden, wrote like James Joyce, strode through the Village in her signature serapes, had breakfast at Bigelow’s with Richard Wright, got drunk at the White Horse Tavern with Dylan Thomas, palled around with Truman Capote and Carson McCullers, kept a vast collection of dolls in her Bleecker Street apartment and regaled intimates with tales of her romantic conquests
No one reads Thomas Beer, including me, though I’m using him to highlight Robert Nedelkoff’s list on Neglected Books. Nedelkoff writes:
In the 1950s, during his first lectures at the University of Virginia, Faulkner mentioned that in the days when he read the Saturday Evening Post at his Oxford postmaster’s job instead of delivering the magazine, he had admired Thomas Beer’s (1889-1940) stories and had learned something of characterization and plot from them. He asked if any of the students had read Beer; there was silence. He asked if any had heard of him. One student had heard of Beer’s biography of Stephen Crane and of his bestseller of ’26, The Mauve Decade. Others who’ve admired Beer’s work include Lewis Mumford, historian Frank Friedel and Carl Van Vechten (with whom Beer had some aspects of style and sensibility in common). The Fair Rewards is a portrait in novel form of the American theater from 1890 to 1920, and well illustrates Beer’s gift for delineating pre-World War I America in a somewhat melancholy, elliptical fashion. Long out of print.
[READER SUBMISSION…sorry I lost track of his name!]
I have been researching and writing about William March for around 4 years now, but no one else even knows he exists (outside of the Bad Seed film mostly). His WWI anti-war novel “Company K” was hailed as one of the finest war novels ever written (by Graham Greene, nonetheless), but he has faded into obscurity. I authored his wikipedia page, as there was none to be found when I went searching…I find it quite depressing that someone who was heralded as “the unrecognized genius of our time” would simply cease to be relevant.
William March’s wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_March