Grazing in the Stacks at The Library of America




More goodness / gracious from The Library of America after lunch uptown at the Century Club yesterday with old friend Max Rudin, publisher of The LOA, who a) picked up the tab, and b) invited me back to graze in their offices on 62nd Street, where I lay my hands on these two treasure troves of wit and style.

Pauline Kael of course needs no introduction, I devoured her first anthology I Lost It at the Movies while in junior high. Always a scintillating read even when I disagreed with her assessments of various films (she was so right in praising Bertolucci's Last Tango in Paris but so wrong about excoriating Antonioni's La Notte. But opinions are like, um, you know what. Style is everything when it comes to reviewing anything especially films -- which is why Renata Adler and later Anthony Lane were / are so good in picking up the Kaelian banner at The New Yorker viz. their film reviews. A nice person (sometimes), when Pauline was Chief Film Critic at The New Yorker she very kindly mentored a friend of mine at Yale and gave this fledgling writer a leg up to get a short story of his published in the pages of the mag. He went on to have a successful career as a screen writer in Hollywood.


The Cool School -- in which my late friend and collaborator (yep) Glenn O'Brien collects various hipster scribblings, heavy on the Beats and assorted mavericks -- including old buddy Richard Meltzer and (to quote Charlie Parker on Dizzy Gillespie) "his worthy constituent" Lester Bangs (another long gone friend).

The best here imho is an excerpt from legendary post-war Left Bank ex-pat Iris Owens, who ran with George Plimpton and The Paris Review crowd back in the day, with an excerpt from her (relatively straight) novel After Claude. Iris also btw wrote possibly the most filthy, daring and provocative hard-core pornography for Maurice Girodias's celebrated Olympia Press Traveler's Companion Series under the pseudonym Harriet Daimler. (True confession: Iris was a dear friend of mine.) Check out Sin for Breakfast, The Woman Thing, and Darling if you can find them. This anthology's main sin of omission, in my book though, is that it's fairly light on inclusion of the old principia feminina.

I mean -- no Eve Babitz? Emily Prager?? Virginie Despentes??? Kathy Acker????

Glenn? GLENN?

Glenn O'Brien has left the building.

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