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REMEMBRANCE OF BOOKS PAST

December 24, 2021

The first 12 books that I remembered in the order I remembered them, revised.

The first 12 books that I remembered in the order I remembered them, revised.

The Bible – though I believe and say shit like “I’m such an atheist, I’m not an atheist,” and “God is dead, but sometimes I miss him,” the Book is the mythology I cut my teeth on lies under my writing like a buried bone
Little Lord Fauntleroy Gotta get out of this place! (Gretna) “Maybe I’m adopted and my real parents are English nobility.”
Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man (James Joyce), reinforced by the inspired reading of the opening passage by Joan Baez on her Baptism recording.
The Energy of Slaves – (Leonard Cohen), stripped down, whether laconic or angry, right on the money. It’s the only book I ever tried to shoplift. Tried, the keyword. Poor U of M Bookstore security lady felt so sorry for my 18-year old ass trying to steal a book of poetry,
she held it until I had the money to come back and buy it.
The Collected Works of Billy the Kid (Michael Ondaatje)
The Diviners (Margaret Laurence) mostly because it was a damn fine novel about places I knew in my own country, but also because it was one of my mother’s favourite books that I saw her readings some Sunday mornings when she could have been in church. Also because she thought if Margaret Laurence “could use words like that,” I could too, when my Dad discovered Jimmy Bang Poems.
Field Notes (Robert Kroetsch)Still have a first edition of Seed Catalogue, but am particularly found of The Sad Phoenician, and The Poets Mother, the poem envoi (to begin with) the seed for the new envoi literary foundation or ELF (stayed tuned)
The Edible Woman, What’s not to like? I was in university, what it lacked in subtlety was mostly lost on me because of its clarity, and for god’s sake it was FUNNY. Insert Canadian Iron Man Contest joke here.
Under the Volcano (Malcolm Lowry), best description of leaving the garden for the abyss ever written. I’ve stopped reading it every October, my favourite reading of course on an October Ferry to Gabriola in 1979.
Ada Or Ardor: A Family Chronicle (Nabokov), I may have read Lolita first, but this is definitely my favourite Nabakov, introducing me to my lifelong fascination with “the family romance,” and a novel way of story writing.
Mad Shadows by Marie Claire Blais. Cohen and Blais introduced me to new writing and new ways of writing by Canadians.
The Waves by Virginia Woolf tied in to a rhythm of language that I love, pushed harder by Cohen and Blais who came after, but could be much angrier than Woolf, which also appealed to me in the seventies.

THE BOOKS ON THE LIST ABOVE fueled my desire as a writer from grade school to University. Especially University. I still opwn all these books many now 50 years later wh9ch I mention because I couldn’t attend the 50th Reunion  of my Grade 12 MCI Graduating class, with one or two exceptions I spent more time with any of these books than my classmates. To be fair, I have been back in touch with some with a hearty LOOKIE HERE! listing the books that I’ve written and have been published. The deadine was at a bad time I was busy NOT DYING for two weeks. The black white and red cover is from the 1940s but not quite a first edition. I have a poem. 2 actually.

Losing Malcolm

I’m sorry, Malcolm. I left you
 in the dim light of a Winnipeg bar

looking for the beauty
you said I would see if I drink

as you do, and I do
Malcom, see your beauty

Under the Volcano, towering above
he shabby Dollartown pier. I don’t remember

where I left you, or how much I tipped the waitress
who never ran after me, leaving your book

on the counter with my anti-depressant
slipped inside.  

 

Finding Malcolm

So I stop at the smoke shop to buy a cigar underground
after my conversation with George laying down my hardbound

Sourland. Joyce Carol Oates a guilty pleasure, part of my secret
ife like my conversations with George or with women

telling them they are beautiful, and they are, but unlikely
my dear wife would understand. She knows

                                                           
there is not an unfaithful bone in my body. She does not know
I lost Malcolm in what I thought was the bar. So I can not

tell her that the clerk, noticing my book asked if I liked to read.
“ Why yes,” I said “I read a lot.”  He rummages under the cash register

and drops my 1947 Reynalds Hitchock Under The Volcano on Sourland,
and asks “You know this book?” “Yes,” I say, “it’s mine.”

He and Malcolm waiting me to make a counter offer. I accept, leaving
 an extra ten bucks for this year’s Day of the Dead, holding on

tight to the escalator railing, steel tongued steps
moving me and Malcolm to the light.

 

 

 

 

 

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