Fran Lebowitz

June 26, 2017

A few weeks ago I caught Fran Lebowitz being interviewed on a late night talk show.  I had heard of her but never read any of her work.  She was quite interesting in the interview and I duly ordered a copy of The Fran Lebowitz Reader from the library. I guess others had seen her interview because I was third in line for the only copy. I finally got it last week and began to read.

The book is a series of short magazine-style pieces, reprints of her books Metropolitan Life and Social Studies, some  of which were first published as magazine articles in Interview, Mademoiselle, and British Vogue.  I enjoyed the first few pieces, and I can see why she was considered a sardonic wit, perhaps a new Dorothy Parker. Unfortunately, I quickly became bored with the style and the viewpoint; after a dozen or so pieces, you knew what was coming in the next chapter, and the writing seemed no longer witty but, rather, repetitious and small minded.

I suspect part of the problem is the fact that these were written in the 1970s and 1980s. Our television schedules these days are full of brash, outspoken commentary by highly intelligent women. Compared to them, Lebowitz in this collection comes across as little more powerful than a pre-sensimilla spliff. And, like a forty-year old roach, her writing hasn’t aged well.

That’s a shame because I was looking forward to it.

R.I.P. Yevgeny Yevtushenko

April 2, 2017

It is with sadness I learn of the death at age 83 of the brilliant Russian poet and novelist Yevgeny Yevtushenko.

He was one of the heroes of my youth, though I admit I haven’t thought about him for several decades now. His poem Babi Yar and his early Autobiografia were inspirational to me as a young poet and confused Marxist.

I will take some time this summer to re-read some of his work.

R.I.P. Colin Dexter

March 21, 2017

It is with sadness I read this morning of the death of Colin Dexter, one of the true masters of the English crime novel. He was 88.

His 13 novels about Inspector Morse are erudite studies of murder, police work, and the particular lifestyle of Oxford and its colleges. They spawned three TV series — Morse, Lewis, and Endeavour — that were (and still are) hugely popular.  Morse had a passion for beer, Wagner, and difficult crosswords — not unlike the author, I suspect.  For me, Morse shares an intellectual heaven with P.D. James’ equally literate Adam Dalgleish: both authors pushed the genre into true literature.

From the several obits I have read, Colin Dexter seems to have been a jolly fellow, well liked by all who knew him. He will be missed.

Still Missing You, Charles

March 9, 2017

Twenty-three years ago today we sadly lost genius poet Charles Bukowski.  To remember him, here is an animation of his poem The Man With The Beautiful Eyes.

Michael Kluckner’s New Book: “2050”

November 1, 2016

2050-bookThe second of Michael Kluckner’s graphic novels is to have a launch at:

Book Warehouse, 4118 Main, on 7th November at 7:00pm.

The previous novel took us 50 years into the past, the new one moves us to 2050 in the future. It is “A Post-Apocalyptic Murder Mystery.”  It is not, he promises us, “a dystopian downer.”

Many of you will be familiar with Michael’s luminous watercolours of older houses and neighbourhoods, many of which are used to great effect in his numerous works on heritage and architectural history. These graphic novels offer a more direct approach as a storytelling medium.

Good luck, Michael!

Bravo! The Nobel Prize for Bob Dylan

October 13, 2016


In a move that will no doubt shock traditionalists of the novel form, Bob Dylan has been awarded this year’s Novel Prize for Literature.

Frankly, I find it hard to disagree with the citation that states he “created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”. The Secretary of the Institute went on to say that “he embodies the tradition and for 54 years now he has been at it, reinventing himself constantly, creating a new identity.” I have written before about one of those changes that I witnessed fifty years ago.

They compare him to Homer and Sappho — such recognition!


October 7, 2016

Today is the 61st anniversary of the first public reading of Allen Ginsburg’s glorious poem “Howl“.

Allen Ginsberg Chronicle negative, No other information on envelope. Holding a copy of Dr. Sax by Jack Kerouac. Taken at City Lights bookstore? oursfmag_ginsberg 06/02/1959

Allen Ginsberg
Chronicle negative, No other information on envelope. Holding a copy of Dr. Sax by Jack Kerouac. Taken at City Lights bookstore?

The reading on 7th October 1955 was at the Six Gallery in San Francisco, and the other poets reading were a constellation of some of the greatest and inspirational poets of their (or any) generation: Gary Snyder, Philip Lamatia, Philip Whalen, Michael McClure, and Kenneth Roxreth.

What a night that must have been!