Henry Miller

version

Who loves ya, baby?
I think I'd have a higher opinion of Miller as a person if a lot of the sexual stuff was fiction, but a lower opinion of him as a writer because it actually happening affords slightly more justification for boring the reader to death with it.
 

IdleRich

IdleRich
I have just started reading Hopscotch by Cortazar (finally) - the first few pages appear to be another of those boho bumming around Paris (in the US sense) talking about art books and doing unusual things in keeping with their artistic temperaments. This passage struck me as rather a precise skewering of such types

CortaszarEdited.jpg

Cost that's exactly what they (we) do isn't it?
 

version

Who loves ya, baby?
It'll be interesting to see if what Cortazar's saying in that passage actually comes across throughout the book, or whether he's just trying to position himself as above it then does it anyway.
 

catalog

Well-known member
I've tried reading cortazar a few times, he did this classic of psychogeography, where he and his wife stopped at every service station on a motorway, like it was their holiday. Sadly I can't remember anything about it, don't think I finished it. And hopscotch I've heard about loads but I only read a few pages before losing interest
 

IdleRich

IdleRich
It'll be interesting to see if what Cortazar's saying in that passage actually comes across throughout the book, or whether he's just trying to position himself as above it then does it anyway.
It will be yeah... got a feeling from the reputation of the book that it will be something different. To be honest I didn't even know it was set in Paris, all I thought about it was that it was possible to read in more than one order or something.
 

suspendedreason

Well-known member
It was always Miller's prose that got me. The first page of Capricorn is just lovely:
Once you have given up the ghost, everything follows with dead certainty, even in the midst of chaos. From the beginning it was never anything but chaos: it was a fluid which enveloped me, which I breathed in through the gills. In the substrata, where the moon shone steady and opaque, it was smooth and fecundating; above it was a jangle and a discord. In everything I quickly saw the opposite, the contradiction, and between the real and the unreal the irony, the paradox. I was my own worst enemy. There was nothing I wished to do which I could just as well not do. Even as a child, when I lacked for nothing, I wanted to die: I wanted to surrender because I saw no sense in struggling. I felt that nothing would be proved, substantiated, added or subtracted by continuing an existence which I had not asked for. Everybody around me was a failure, or if not a failure, ridiculous. Especially the successful ones. The successful ones bored me to tears. I was sympathetic to a fault, but it was not sympathy that made me so. It was a purely negative quality, a weakness which blossomed at the mere sight of human misery. I never helped anyone expecting that it would do any good; I helped because I was helpless to do otherwise. To want to change the condition of affairs seemed futile to me; nothing would be altered, I was convinced, except by a change of heart, and who could change the hearts of men?
 

suspendedreason

Well-known member
On The Road is in the minority of novels I've started and not finished - got about 50 pages in and decided it was just really boring. I can appreciate that it was fresh and relevant in the 50s, of course, but maybe it's because that whole "young/ish white bloke bums around in grotty-but-cool neighbourhoods, does odd jobs/hustles/steals, is drunk/high most of the time, has meaningless sexual encounters/tempestuous relationship with a woman as dysfunctional as he is, writes about it" genre is now so well-worn - although of books like that that I've read I can only really think of Miller and Bukowski. I quite liked the Bukowski I read - probably Factotum and maybe one other - but not enough to seek out any others. I know several people who think he's amazing - pretty certain not one of those friends is female, it has to be said.
I think all this is perfectly right and true, and I'll "yes and" with an emphasis on "I can appreciate that it was fresh and relevant in the 50s." I'll always remember this paragraph from some blog comment section, it stuck with me and helped me view the appeal of someone like Rand, or Kerouac, differently:
Can’t you see, though, that like Ayn Rand’s works, there’s a personality type that could gain from reading On The Road? Maybe you are already sufficiently decadent, maybe you’ve lived in a commune and practiced free love and experimented with drugs or whatever, but someone who is a total square might read the book and say “wow, there is more to life than two hours of commute, eight hours of work, four hours of TV and a couple hours of miscellaneous per day, and I should check it out.” I think a lot of people who liked On The Road were stuck unquestioningly in life scripts that weren’t working for them, and either got shook out of their ruts or at least thought it was nice to fantasize that they could, in principle, get shook out of them.
 
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