Saturday, July 07, 2007
A few important days in the life of Holden Morrissey Caulfield, a tall, skinny, highly critical and depressed sixteen-year-old who academically flunked out of Pencey Prep boarding school. . . I was thinking recently about the most famous, least famous (yet brilliant) poets and writers, not necessarily neglecterinos. I was also thinking about what poets and writers are the most well-known in the eyes of the public at large. If someone on the streets of Manhattan were asked about The Great Gatsby or Shelley or Ron Silliman or Edgar Allen Poe or Bob Dylan or Frank O'Hara where is the line of demarcation? Odds are that the average Joe on the street could not name the author of The Catcher in the Rye, or the author of Howl, or the author of Harmonium. Does everyone need some knowledge of the main works of literature to have an informed opinion and who's to say? Certainly Salinger's mystique was cultivated by his genius as a writer but also because of his elusive qualities. [Garbolike, he just vants to be left alone.] Some great books have worked their magic on our social subconscious in very subtle ways. Some works really only register with other artists. In byegone days, Rod McKuen sold many books. My copy of Listen to the Warm was bought nearly as a gag gift yet didn't go unread. Some of my favorite "sleeper" artists include Ray Johnson.