Tag Archives: American literature

RIP Bruce Jay Friedman (1930 – 2020)

Bruce Jay Friedman was an American author and screenwriter.

Black Humor: Anthology by Bruce Jay Friedman

He is noted for his anthology Black Humor: Anthology (1965), a book in the tradition of André Breton’s Anthology of Black Humor (1940).

Friedman appears to have been a nobrow figure being active in the pulps as well as in serious literature.

RIP Michael McClure (1932 – 2020)

Michael McClure was an American poet and writer known for his association with the Beat Generation.

Here he can be seen reading poetry to the lions. Apparently the origin of this footage is from the USA: Poetry television series. Michael McClure reads some of his 99 Ghost Tantras in the lion house of the San Francisco Zoo.

RIP Joe Frank (1938 – 2018)

This happened two years ago but I only found out today.

Also, I had never heard of Joe Frank.

Today, I googled for Ken Nordine and ASMR (one of my guilty pleasures) and I found Joe Frank.

I listened and liked immediately and immensely. Frank is an absolute genius.

Up there in absurdity with the likes of Roland Topor.

Joe Frank was a French-born American writer radio performer known for his philosophical, humorous, surrealist, and absurd monologues and radio dramas, says Wikipedia.

Typical radio dramas include “Bad Karma” (2000) and “That Night” (1994).

“Bad Karma” (2000)

“Bad Karma” opens with:

“I’m sitting at a dinner party attended by Pol Pot, Hitler, Stalin and Mao. Seated at another smaller table are Saddam Hussein, Slobodan Milošević, Pinochet and some others I don’t recognize. And then there’s a third table, sort of a children’s table, it has shorter legs and smaller children’s chairs. And sitting there are Richard Speck, Gary Gilmore, Jeffrey Dahmer, John Wayne Gacy, Ted Bundy and Charles Manson.”

“That Night”

Synopsis from “That Night”:

“Joe’s uncle drowns while fishing a week after retiring, urban animal criminals, voyeur complains about a nude woman, sex with nuns in a limo, an elderly marching band and homecoming parade has been lost for 40 years and is being chased by homecoming queen’s fiance, creating life-size maps, to Jesus: why is there so much suffering, we’re on the edge of chaos, it’s great to feel a part of nature monologue with traffic background, monologue on sleep (repeated in other programs).” [3]

“That Night” also mentions maps on a 1:1 scale, just as Borges did in his one-paragraph story “On Exactitude in Science”.

RIP Nick Tosches (1949 – 2019)

Nick Tosches  was an American writer, music critic, biographer, a jack of all trades.

I admit that although he had had an entry on my encyclopedia since 2008, I didn’t really know Nick Tosches.

He seems to have been a bit of a drug head, as Burroughs had been before him.

He was into country music and rock, a bit of a rockist it would appear.

He died relatively young.

I give you “Erebos” [above], a spoken word track from Fuck The Living Fuck The Dead (2004).

RIP Toni Morrison (1931 – 2019)

Toni Morrison was a American writer perhaps best-known for her novel Beloved (1987).

Beloved has been banned from five U.S. schools since 2007. Common reasons for censorship include bestialityinfanticidesex, and violence.

Perhaps an offending passage is this one, in which Sethe pays the tombstone engraver with sex:

“You got ten minutes I’ll do it for free.

Ten minutes for seven letters. With another ten could she have gotten “Dearly” too? She had not thought to ask him and it bothered her still that it might have been possible–that for twenty minutes, a half hour, say, she could have had the whole thing, every word she heard the preacher say at the funeral (and all there was to say, surely) engraved on her baby’s headstone: Dearly Beloved.”

Margaret Atwood in Writing with Intent: Essays, Reviews, Personal Prose: 1983-2005 (2009) remarks:”Sethe wanted “Dearly Beloved [on the tombstone],” from the funeral service, but had only enough strength to pay for one word. Payment was ten minutes of sex with the tombstone engraver.”

‘Beloved’ film trailer

William Burroughs @100

William S. Burroughs would have celebrated his centennial tonight had he not died one summer day in 1997. I haven’t read all that much by Burroughs (I haven’t read all that much, actually), although over the summer I bought a second hand battered version of Queer in Turkey, which I enjoyed a lot and a couple of years ago in the Pyrenees I read Cities of the Red Night.

And of course I’ve seen Cronenberg’s film adaption of Naked Lunch.

There is one citation which nicely sums up his work. Burroughs is talking:

“‘Nihilism, unrelieved despair and negationmisanthropypessimism‘ – very much the same set of clichés that greeted Louis-Ferdinand Celine’s Journey to the End of the Night, which to my mind is a very funny book, in a picaresque tradition stretching back to Petronius and to The Unfortunate Traveller by Thomas Nashe. I have always seen my own work in the light of the picaresque – a series of adventures and misadventures, horrific and comic, encountered by an antihero.” 

 And then there is this hilarious film fragment he did with Antony BalchThe Cut-Ups, which surprise, surprise is still up on Youtube: