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Anxious gatekeeping

Analogous to nervous cluelessness is something we might call “anxious gatekeeping.”   This is desire to police the borders of poetry, or of...

Friday, July 31, 2015

100. For the Fighting Spirit of the Walnut

So I felt that I was not reading with any pleasure any more. Poetry felt dull to me. So I am beginning a countdown of 100 books. The very first book I chose to read reawakened me to the pleasure of reading. It is For the Fighting Spirit of the Walnut by Takashi Hiraide, translated by Sawako Nakayasu (New Directions, 2008). It puts American style cornball surrealism to shame:
Getting off the train, there was only one exit to the north. I passed a quiet old
commercial strip along the tracks, what seemed like a row of repeating liquor stores,
grocery stores, and rice shops - in other words I took a long detour south around the
station house. With someone leading the way, I was finally able to stand before the
tree of my dreams.
This is extraordinary in numerous ways, in its understatedness, for one thing. It seems to be a surrealist parable, but could actually be the description of a mundane event as well.

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