where the tangent is the architecture
I'm an independent bookseller, so please forgive me if I chatter about books. They're almost all I have.
I’ll be goddamned if I can remember which post this is referencing.
At Unnameable Books, I believe. I forget whether I bought it or whether it was just among those, the poor books we cull from our greedily gathered stacks and mourn forever. I blame the prices at that ice-cream place down the street.
There’s a reason I generally call Unnameable my favorite bookstore in town.
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mydaguerreotypeboyfriend would be better if history hadn’t cropped out the smirking woman sitting next to all of those Self-Serious Men and their Hugely Unfortunate Given Later Historical Context Facial Hair.
"You shaved? No, no it’s fine. It’s great. It’s great I said! It’s very small, is all. … … Which is appropriate becauseOH COME ON JAMES SIT DOWN I WAS JOKING."
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A Diamond Necklace, Alice Notley. 1977, Frontward Books
Cover by Rochelle Kraut
Published at The Poetry Project, New York City, in an edition of 350.
ON CLEARING THE RANGE
Thoroughbass its wake always a thought underdone
Enter magic and invent numbers, a thorough actor one’s
Dying year is a driving force a draught of stars
Bely power the elaborate tulip that closes upon
Entering its haft, new month, keeps its memory all
Ruptured areas of glass like shattered chapters
Resist bright patrons modifiers, favor lowly dignifiers
Interlunar coffees, the interstellar kindnesses
Gently your brilliants draw childhood-true reflectiveness
From Arkansas’s and Tennessees of broadside types of you
Nestling they broadcast their seams to your sky you lie
Presently it turns truth, the promiscuous future
Is ours for a packet of Gods, proof light remains
Of the events the bluish nights we take, in the bed’s
Tranquil cupola, like the palm of a hand
man door hand hook car door is honestly still the best story i’ve ever read
Our CEO Miriam Sontz took up the #ALSicebucketchallenge from Strand Book Store to raise awareness and money for ALS! Robin Lopez, our favorite book-loving member of the Portland Trail Blazers, and our neighbor Mike Vincent from Doc Martens, you’re next!
Wait wait wait.
The Strand is part of this? The Strand, the bookstore that, in the fall, in New York, turns outdoor sprinklers on homeless individuals to drive them off of its sidewalk at night. Class. Such class.
Tonight in BK, John Bemelmans Marciano traced the history of the metric system versus the customary system. It’s not as even as you might think!
Perry Farrell has really diverse interests.
The latest book of poems and (soma)tic rituals by CAConrad and a stunning book of essays by Garrett Caples just rolled in to town. ECODEVIANCE and Retrievals will be on sale at the end of the month.
Modern Library; 1942
TLDR: Teenaged Milton wrote a poem about his dead niece, but in true teenager/Milton fashion it’s heavy on mythology, light on actual grief, and somehow even scoldy. What a cock. It’ll mess your kid up and bore her at the same time. Five screams.
Note: I’m trying out something new this time—a rating system. As you see above, Henry gave this book five out of five screamfaces. What does that mean? It’s compiled using a complex algorithm based on the projected cost of future therapy attributable to this book, immediate discomfort with the sound of the prose, and whether my kid had gas while I read it to him. Precision science, this. Basically, more screams means this book is more likely to do your own child irreparable harm in the near and long term.
Henry hates the poetry of John Milton. No, not the sweet space battles with kick-ass angel cannons. Not the righteous railing against God. Not the demon names. That stuff rules and even Henry, at two months, is attuned enough to his inner Metal to recognize it. He doesn’t have much in the way of hand control yet but I swear I’ve seen him try to throw up those horns.
No, we never even made it to Paradise Lost.
That’s because the first poem in this collection—I don’t know if this is true of the 2007 re-edit from Modern Library—is about the death of Milton’s two-year-old niece. GRAB THAT TORN BLACK ONESIE SHROUD AND BUCKLE ON UP HANK, IT’S TIME FOR SOME LITERARY BABY MOURNIN’
Milton most likely wrote the poem “On the death of a fair infant dying of a cough” when he was nineteen though it was only published two years before his death, and at that time (and likewise in my edition) he marked it as being written when he was seventeen. Reading the poem, you want, for the sake of Milton’s legacy, for it to have been composed as early as possible. It’s terrible, is my point. It’s a poem by a teenager. It’s a poem by a kid trying to mourn, but getting caught up in his own lyric. He’s a sad young literary man failing at even the ‘sad’ part of the thing. James Hanford wrote “Milton is seeking elevation rather than forcefulness of expression, and he as yet knows no way to attain it save by abounding in the aureate rhetoric of the age.”
The opening line is wonderful, I’ll admit:
"O fairest flower no sooner blown but blasted"
Then Milton talks about Apollo, then he compares this dead baby to an angel sent with a purpose, which is a bit Hallmark-ey, but a comfort perhaps. And then, in the last stanza, he goes Full Gross:
Then thou the mother of so sweet a child
Her false imagin’d loss cease to lament,
And wisely learn to curb her sorrows wild;
Think what a present thou to God hast sent,
And render him with patience what he lent;
This if thou do he will an offspring give,
That till the world’s last end shall make thy name to live.
I think at that point Hank and I were both screaming in rage.
Imagine your baby dies (NOT YOU HENRY DON’T WORRY YOU’LL LIVE FOREVER WHAT IS DEATH HA HA I DON’T KNOW GO BACK TO SLEEP) and what does your old-enough-to-know-better brother do? He sends you a poem telling you to shut up and maybe god will give you a better kid. Fuck you John. Fuck you.
Anyhow, henry hated this, but Milton is Milton, so if you want to have a go you can grab the newer edition here.