Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Tom Disch and More Endangered Book Stores

A couple of news items on the bookstore front about more closings since the Cody's post: The Strand in New York has decided to close its annex in Lower Manhattan; the main store at Broadway and 12th, a bookstore mecca known worldwide, is unaffected.

Here is an impassioned (if slightly under lit) appeal by Ray Bradbury to keep open Acres of Books in Long Beach, CA. This is why this man is a hero to so many folks:

I ran across some other videos of Ray talking about libraries that I'll save for another time or perhaps post at the library blog (Eleventh Stack) sometime soon.

In much sadder news, it seems that Tom Disch (here is a nice overview of his work from a few years back) has decided to go out his own way. If you've never read him, take Cory Doctorow's advice in this obituary and seek out 334 or Camp Concentration. True classics, from a speculative fiction author that pushed the boundaries in all directions of the compass. Disch was a formalist poet and quite accomplished. He was elitist in that and his opinion about the popularization of poetry I disagreed with. He suffered no fools, evidently to a fault. I'll not speak ill here.

Among the new wave of 60's science fiction innovators - Delany, Russ, Tiptree, Ellison, Dick - he was one of a kind.


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Greg said...

That's sad about Disch. I'll have to check out those books.

Sad about the bookstores, too. We had a local independent bookstore go belly up last year. It had only been open a year or so. I tried to buy there whenever possible.

Charles Gramlich said...

Yes, too bad about Disch. I'll have to look into some of the details. I've read some of his work but not nearly all of it.

I liked what RAy said about bokostore. Man, he is sounding old though.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

This bookstore thing is pretty depressing. I've got to say amazon is just too easy - I've bought way too much from them, so I can only blame myself.

Yeah, Ray is getting up there in age - he'll be 88 next month, but still with lots of spunk.


Anonymous said...

Dear Don:

Thank you for the "Ravenna (1)" translation. I like that one very much too.

I was trying to remember something about James Wright and just thought of it last evening. I was surprised where I found what I was looking for; I thought it was in another volume. In Robert Bly's "Silence in the Snowy Fields", there is a poem in the third section called "After Drinking All Night With A Friend, We Go Out In A Boat At Dawn To See Who Can Write The Best Poem". I was born in Minnesota and am often touched by Bly's references . . . "the true gift, beneath the pale lakes of Minnesota". At any rate, the "friend" in the title was James Wright. I don't know which, if any, poem of Wright's came from that morning in the boat. I appreciate your recent reminders of Wright's wonderful work.



Issa's Untidy Hut said...


A number of poems from Wright's groundbreaking volume "The Branch Will Not Break" were composed on Bly's farm and probably were from around the same time. Wright had been something of a formalist before he met Bly and they had quite an influence on each other.

Bly is "my friend" in one of Wright's most famous poems (and one of my personal fav poems of all time), "A Blessing." Here's a link to it:


One of the amazing things about this poem for me is the merger of Eastern and Western sensibilities: the last three lines, which deliver such an epiphany, are pure haiku.



Greg said...

That IS a nice poem!

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Thanks, Greg. I've used this in a lifelong learning session on poetry appreciation that I've taught the last two years.

Since I'd never taught before, never had any formal writers training and only took one undergraduate course in poetry a lifetime ago, it has been quite a challenge. But I've been determined not to kill the poetry with analysis and in fact only read this poem and refuse to subject it to criticism. The other poems I use I've basically prepared a set of entry point questions into the poem to get the discussion going and so far its worked and no poems, to my knowledge, were fatally wounded in the process.

"A Blessing" is pure magic for me, a timeless moment. Very glad you liked it.