nov 7 new yorker: MacFarquhar's buried gem
On Ashbery's mother: "But she had, he says, 'the terrible strength of the weak' - a phrase he knows he read somewhere but can't place. (It's the way Scarlett describes Melanie in 'Gone with the Wind.')" (93)
She may have only had to google a few words to find this out, but it rocks. Ashbery's not so old that he can't place most of the allusions he makes - he remembers de Quincy on spring (92). But he forgets this one. He'd like to forget the very bad, very racist, very popular novels US literature has produced and canonized, just as it has produced him, lovely Mr. Ashbery. But they can stick . . . and Gone with the Wind will always be lurking in and around Ashbery's thoughts and feelings. Once it is written it is written, and if it is read it is read, and we are left to face the consequences.
Of course you could argue that it is a sentiment more broadly known and expressed and Margaret Mitchell picked it up somewhere else and so did Ashbery . . . and the way MacFarquhar phrases her aside allows for this. Smart, sneaky, great.
And I liked the all Ashbery poetry. Better than last month's "Fog Spirits/On Halloween" a poem about, of course, the poet's daughter on Halloween. I kid you not. I am categorically against poetry about one's own children. Would the NYer publish people's photos of their children? I would hope not. Get a blog, people!
Sensory Experience: literary
Affects: distress/anguish, bored/frustrated,