Thursday, November 18, 2004

posting this for jean vengua - she'll understand why

They were alive and they spoke to me!
Henry Miller: The Books in my Life

No matter how large the library,
the book I wanted was never in
or else it was forbidden me.
Henry Miller: The Time of the Assassins
Years ago, in the belief
that it was a book of
short stories by Arthur Miller
whom I knew of as the author
of Death of a Salesman & the
husband of Marilyn Monroe,
I picked up a paperback
from amongst the detritus
left by the previous tenants
of a house into which friends
of mine were moving, & was half-
way through it before I realised
it was by a different Miller, first
name Henry, whom I didn't
know existed until then.

The writing was alive & it
spoke to me! & the
titles! Someone
who could come up with
The Alcoholic Veteran with the Washboard Cranium
was someone I wanted to
read more of. But life
imitated art. Many of Miller's
books were banned; most
of those that weren't
were out of print; & I could find
nothing more of his until, in a
second-hand bookshop,
I unearthed The Time of the Assassins,
about some French poet, first
name Arthur, second name Rimbaud,
whom I also didn't know
existed until then.


richard lopez said...

that was the second book I had read by miller. I remember finding it in the stacks at the university library and read it in one gulp on the floor. by the time I found miller's rimbaud I was already a confirmed hardcore rimbaud junkie. I discovered the poet about the same time I found caffeine and I remember the bolts of electricity reading _une saison en enfer_ with a cup of industrial-strength black coffee. no higher high to be had for me at the time. oh, the first miller book I read was _tropic of cancer_. I have it here somewhere with the spine cracked and finger-smudged pages.

JL said...

Patti Smith told me about Rimbaud & in a tiny town in NC Rimbaud whispered to me the hand with the pen is worth the hand with the plow then it was me and burgundy Carlo Rossi and Rimbaud tossing pens around with the tobacco pigeons of the central east and I was not the ugliest teenager after all.

Okir said...

I finally purchased "The Books In My Life" only a few months ago. But haven't had time to read it because of teaching and everything else. But it's waiting for me. I should (will) just toss it in my car, since I practically live in my car now. So it'll be there when I need it. Mostly I remember Black Spring & the Tropics...