Commentaries - March 2009

Marjorie Perloff’s PennSound page includes a talk she gave at the Writers House on Frank O’Hara, Jasper Johns, and John Cage in the Sixties; a reading from her memoir, The Vienna Paradox, at Buffalo; and remarks she gave at a 2004 conference on secular Jewish culture and radical Jewish poetic practice. All three recordings are very good — and quite different from each other. But it’s surely not enough Perloff, so we’ll get out there looking for more. I recommend David Zauhar’s essay on her 1990s output, but it seems almost time for someone to assess her 00’s too. Marjorie is good at many things. For the moment my favorite of her targets (often of satire) is the sorry state of mainstream literary journalism. Zap! Zing!

The death of books? Maybe, depending on how narrowly you define “books.” Take John Cheever’s brilliant early (first?) short story, “Goodbye, My Brother.” There are more ways to read this text than one could have imagined ten years ago when it was already deemed a classic. By now it’s seemingly everywhere!

(1) It’s in Vintage Cheever, a book that Random House has made available online in full text.

(2) Here’s a Google books version of the story, “Goodbye, My Brother”: link.

(3) Here’s the Amazon entry for Cheever’s Collected Stories: link.

(4) And here’s the Kindle edition: link.

(5) And finally the story is on the web (although password-protected): link.

You can follow PennSound on Twitter now. Get updates on new recordings as they are added. Highlights, etc.