Stochastic Bookmark

abstruse unfinished commentary

about correspondence


Barbara Guest

The passing of Barbara Guest induced me to read her "experimental novel" this weekend: Seeking Air investigates urban relationships, that is, relationships with/in New York, relationships that occupy interatomic spaces between people, events, destinations, words, author and reader; the primary relationship, between Morgan and Miriam, has its own subconscious, an alchemic source for an alternative surrealism; the secondary relationship, between writer Morgan and Dark muse, merges and blends with the former in the end; these are influenced by, inseparable from, a host of other relationships, among characters, with places, times, signs ... the warp and weft of language ...

Prose by poets has been of special interest to me, due to the attention to detail, down to the last word (blame Nabokov), but Guest takes it farther, more radically, down to a preoccupation with prepositions and punctuation. Having fun with etymology: "the adjective 'subtile' was derived from 'the days when the Roman philosophers used to wander up and down under the lime trees [...] -- lime tree being tilia in Latin.'" (§6, beneath the limes, between the lines ... sublime) Putting the real back into realignment (her pun, §89). Ellipses also do interludic service. And I was pulled up by §38, which reads in its entirety:
The soul of the apartment is in the carpet. EDGAR ALLEN POE
Checking the source, 'in' is an interpolation, more suggestive of Henry James and the figure he lifted from Constance Fenimore Woolson. Which made Dale Going's take all the better.

13.4 Royalty and royalties: a publisher pays tribute. (April Jacket also has Gil Sorrentino and more Malley.)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You may want to look as well at "Miniatures and Other Poems" (I think that is the correct title), a book of poetry, for word play by Barbara Guest, especially in the titles of poems. [Comment by Robert Mueller; I have yet to figure out how to use blogger accounts, etc.]

30/12/08 02:20  

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