A few years ago, the poet D.A. (Doug) Powell and I, in a fit of industry, embarked upon a project called The One Sentence Review. This was our call for submissions:
“Have you ever wanted to review a new book of poetry, but you felt like you might not have enough to say? The One Sentence Review doesn’t need you to blather on and on about how life-affirming or ground-breaking or challenging or redemptive each book is. On the contrary, we want the true essence of the book, cooked down into one encapsulating, qualitative, complete thought. Or less.”
Perhaps to be human is to forget. Perhaps every culture survives by forgetting. In America we have forgotten so many things that we are sometimes called a people without a memory. Modern Turkey sometimes strikes me as a culture based on forgetting as many things as possible about the country’s past. Since the late eighties, the place to eat in Istanbul for serious foodies has been Ciya, in Kadikoy, on the Asian side of the Bosphorus. Ciya is the creation of master chef Musa Dagdeviren, whose mission is to restore to Turkish diners a cuisine that they have forgotten.
So begins Robert Lax’s Voyage to Pescara, written in 1951 and first published in full in 2000 by Overlook Press, as the last third of a three-books-in-one collection, Circus Days & Nights. I won’t go on at length about Lax’s fascinating biography or the wonders of his minimalism and documentary poetics, because I’ve come to know his work only recently and I don’t have a grasp on its range, but along with George Oppen, Anne Carson, and Ernesto Cardenal, he’s already up there as one of my favorite 20th century meditative writers.
Late-night dispatch, San Francisco: I’m about halfway through Martin Amis’s novel Money, relentless, repellent, ridiculous, exquisitely crafted Money, a 1980s period piece written as if it were destined to be a 1980s period piece.
Which is better than most.
Which is taking me forever, reading the book I mean, because who has fucking time for that.
This endless couple-pages-before-maybe-a-handjob-and-then-sleep slog through Money has got me thinking about money.
1. Play with the feral kittens that you are taming.
2. Play with your own animals so they won’t be jealous of the interlopers.
3. Do your best to avoid crying because your lovely old car blew a head gasket.
4. Have your car towed to another garage to confirm the diagnosis.
5. Shop for new (old) cars online.
6. Pay bills (while it is still possible to do so).
7. Water and weed the garden (because you will be living on collards, it turns out).
8. Remember at the last minute that you must attend a lecture, and bike there.
9. Add dinner with the lecture crew to your evening (and skip over the collards on the menu).
10. Rally a blog crew for MQR, and share the news before Monday is officially over.