At eighteen I was introduced first to Jack Kerouac, then Henry Miller, after that Charles Bukowski, and then naturally, Arthur Rimbaud. All of these writers affected and influenced me. I became obsessed with Rimbaud and started reading everything I could get my hands on. Initially I found the books slowly, at used book stores, most often the Strand in New York. I then worked in a Barnes and Noble and had access to their book database. I special ordered book after book. I spent hundreds of dollars. Once ebay was founded, I began ordering books on there. I have quite a collection and I am extremely proud of it.
It’s banned book week! Or rather, it was last week. . . .Time to celebrate those books that have been challenged and banned. Many classics that have been a part of the literary canon for decades have had their merit questioned. We have days to commemorate what happened. And we have Banned Books Week to remind us of what could have happened. We could have lost so much art if brave publishers and booksellers did not protest censorship. Books were banned for their language and content. Anything remotely sexual was considered pornographic. Racial slurs used to indicate a racist society were challenged. Something slightly bawdy was banned. And books that reinterpret religious texts were burned. Why? They are all merely ideas. They are all just musings, just observations, just words. But people become so caught up in their personal beliefs that they want to force them on other people. It seems strange to me that books are still being challenged and banned to this day. Continue reading →
Part V of my ongoing quest to archive all the items I find in my books. Sometimes people store money or checks in their books. My friend Heather once found $20 in a book she found on the street. I cannot imagine getting rid of a book without carefully going through it to see what might be inside.
William S. Burroughs‘ Junkie is written tight and clean, just like I like it. But there is no humor, no black humor, nor any dry humor. The book is dark and hopeless, just as Burroughs’ addiction is. There is no redemption for his narrator; he never changes. But without Burroughs’ strict attention to detail, without his lack of repenting, we would not have the literature we have today. He wrote about gay sex easily without explaining it or making it dirty or salacious. He just wrote about his life. He created a whole new genre—cult culture.
I have been going through my old books to see what I find. This is the third entry; I’m slowly combing through all my books. Sometimes it’s as boring as a muni pass or a receipt for the book I’ve found it in. Sometimes it’s something more, something I’d long forgotten, something that reminds me of who I used to be, and who I used to want to be.
This project is really fun but sometimes it’s a bit sad. It reminds me of things I’d forgotten, things I meant to forget. I’m not referring to this particular entry, just this project in general. We store things away to hide them because we can’t throw them out and yet we don’t want to see them anymore. And one day we find them and all those emotions reappear just as that item has.