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Monday, December 20, 2010

Running without Kids: Jonathan Cott Books

Ok, the kids are gone until Wednesday and Dave and I are awash in adult activities... and by that I mean sleeping in, having coffee, taking books off the shelf and talking about them without being interrupted or having a crisis or a diaper to deal with. It's strange the amount of space in the room...suddenly, as my friend Tracey likes to say.
Dave and I are both reading Jonathan Cott but for completely different reasons. And this happens, as Jonathan Cott is a writer of any and many various things. I first read Cott's The Search for Omm Sety after I returned from Egypt in 2000. It's a very strange tale of a woman and her relationship to an ancient pharaoh, their love rekindled through her use of astral projection. It sounds ridiculous but Cott uses his skill as an investigative journalist to present a plausible and unbiased account of this woman's belief. I followed that with Isis and Osiris, an examination of the ancient myth and how it has trickled down into our contemporary culture.

Then I read Wandering Ghost, one of the best biographies of Lafcadio Hearn ever written. I'll quote Dave Brinks in his essay from Art Voices: Vivant Dans La Ville Fatale (Summer 09) "It's a wildly engrossing tome about a half-blind, Greek-Irish, eccentric vagabond journeying across 19th century Earth from bohemian New Orleans to New York to the Caribbean, and then later to Japan." Brinks goes on in the essay to excerpt selections from Cott's book to illustrate Hearn's time in New Orleans and how this influenced his Hearn's writing and thinking.

Beyond the Looking Glass is one of my favorites as I adore fairy tales. It's a compendium of novels, stories and poems from the Victorian Era with delightful images and pictures to accompany the stories.

Dave is currently reading Thirteen, looking into his upcoming poetry book on complex mathematical theories that I hear about on a daily basis but really don't understand.

I've been reading the complete Dylan interviews edited by Cott for my own work on a long poem about Wuthering Heights in conversation with Dylan lyrics; a topic which confounds Dave as much as his hexagrams confuse me. Coincidentally, Dylan refers to his music as mathematical.

Jonathan Cott is probably best know for his Rolling Stone interviews with Dylan and John Lennon. But he is also a poet; his book of poems City of Earthly Love (Stonehill Publishing, 1975) is filled with beautiful lyrics such as "He Dreams What is Going on Inside His Head." This poem opens with the line: "Angel Hair sleeps with a boy in my head," which Anne Waldman and Lewis Warsh named their magazine and press after; The Angel Hair Anthology (Granary Books, 2001) has Cott's poem in the opening.

Here's a poem from the collection:

Studying Water

I write you in small print

Waking up in little moments

Round like d's or sleeping fingers

Slipping through the intervals

As deck chairs turn in themselves

A wind blowing through

As a sun fan lifts

Birds float to dawn shadows

Rolling in dark grass to your hand

There's an interesting article at Slate about Cott's experience with ECT and his memory loss. It's a subject he explores in his book On the Sea of Memory: A Journey from Forgetting to Remembering.

Dave and I are checking into a hotel later for some more childless adventures, and this means that we have to pack our books.

Here's my list:

Exilee/ Temps Morts by Theresa Hak Kyung Cha

Justifying the Margins by Pierre Joris

Cast A Cold Eye by Mary McCarthy

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (reread)

Here's Dave's List:

Chita by Lafcadio Hearn

Osiris with a trombone across the seam of substance by Julian Similian

Transgender and Grinder by J. Semilian

Thirteen by Cott

Dear Sandy, Hello by Berrigan

Harry Partch, a biography by Bob Gilmore

Keep in mind we are going to be there a whole 24 hours, so we have to be prepared.

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