Saturday, July 05, 2008

it's the little things

I think I love Chiasson's profile of Frank O'Hara in the old April 7 issue. I like the title, "Fast Company," and I like all the following bits:

"(...he called writing 'playing the typewriter.')"

"(in the words of a home-town friend) the spot to 'lie down on a chaise longue, get mellow with a few drinks, and listen to Marlene Dietrich records.'"

and, of course,

"glistening torsos sandwiches"


Of these four, the first is Chiasson quoting a letter written by O'Hara, the second is Chiasson quoting O'Hara's "home-town friend," and then, the third is an actual O'Hara poem.

But it all sounds pretty darn good to me.

I absolutely loved this bit of analysis, from Chiasson:

"When O'Hara includes, in his poems, urine and sequins, aspirins and Strega, it's not because he's addicted to reality - on the contrary, he is addicted to artistic transformation, and is distressed by the fact that bits of the world haven't been subjected to mimesis, and preserved by it."

I loved O'Hara at the movies and living in apartments.

But maybe Chiasson is addicted to sandwiches. He mentions the sandwich image on at least 3 separate occasions. That's a little annoying. And the bit I liked, above, about the chaises, well, actually, it is part of a sentence that is way too long and contains too much information. The sentence about the chaises also mentions, in passing, that (1) post-WWII Harvard "overflow freshmen slept on cots in the gym" and (2) Edward Gorey was O'Hara's college roommate!! Chiasson also relies too heavily on parentheses.

NYT also has a review of the Selected Poems.


And I found James Wood's review of Rivka Galchen's Atmospheric Disturbances (June 23) really compelling. Like, I felt compelled to find and read the book. And that never happens. I was dizzy by the end of her short story, "Region of Unlikeness" so I think I'll be fairly swooning by the end of the novel.

2 Comments:

Blogger -K- said...

William Logan, who wrote the NYT review, doesn't seem to have liked O'Hara's poetry very much.

Although I did like his observation that John Ashbery's poetry owes an awful lot to O'Hara's early surrealistic poems.

1:16 AM  
Blogger zp said...

I didn't notice that Logan was negative when I first the NYT review. But after you mentioned it, I could kind of hear it . . .

Strange, tho', I felt like, despite this (or because of it??) the NYT review actually gave a better sense of O'Hara's language than the New Yorker piece.

6:07 PM  

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