I Saw the Figure 5 in Gold
Charles Demuth 1928
A fairly famous painting, apparently, inspired by this pome from William Carlos Williams, one of my favourite potes:The Great Figure
Among the rain
I saw the figure 5
on a red
to gong clangs
and wheels rumbling
through the dark city
Let us know how it goes with "You Can't Go Home Again"
Thomas Wolfe's editor was Max Perkins. Thomas would bring in a massive amount of material to Max. It was this editor's interest in Thomas that got his books into print.
Max also worked with Fitzgerald and Hemingway. They tended to be lean writers. So Wolfe was a distinct contrast to Perkin's other writers.
Wolfe and Perkins collaborated. This collaboration is not as evident in this last novel. Max was hesitent in making changes and edits without Wolfe's support or approval.
I found the novel real tough slugging but what kept me going was my interest in Max Perkins.
I'm actually reading the section on Foxhall whatever, the editor, right now.
I can tell you that Wolfe is not particularly my cup of tea. I've read this book before, but I can't remember whether I finished it. Also read The Web and the Rock, but I don't remember whether I finished that either.
I'm not sure what it is I don't like. Strikes me as a little pompous, maybe. And somehow not completely authentic. The characters don't seem to be consistent. One minute they're white. The next they're black. And there doesn't seem to be any connecting thread to explain why they've changed. I thank God that Kerouac gave up trying to write like him. And I'm reminded that Wolfe was unreadable until Perkins fixed him. Or rather, that he was not a novelist until Perkins transformed his work.
I find it tough going too. Dos Passos also was tough, but much of it rang true, for me at least. The only parts of Dos Passos that struck me as poor were the "amorous" passages. The love relationships struck me as all quite immature. Nearly every guy in the book got his girlfriend knocked up. And nearly every girl let herself...
Every hundred pages or so there was a beautiful sunset or so that is what I remembered because it has been thirty years. In winter, in Deep River, No TV, Wolfe put me to sleep. I can't say I enjoyed his books. I can say that there were a few thoughts in his book that made me say "WOW"...I enjoyed reading about Max Perkins life...I couldn't get into Hemingway. I enjoyed Fitzgerald...He was an easy entertaining read.
But the best book I remember was by Hesse..Damien..Blew me away. Would it today...I don't know I was young and impressionable once...smiles… All the thoughts were new…and gave me a sense that there were alternatives perceptions of the world other than the POV I grew up with…
What disturbs me about all these writers unless it is just PR. None of them were happy. Maybe during those days it was just bad form to be a writer and be happy…
Don’t know about Hesse, but all three of the American writers were alcoholics…
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