Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Journal Of Albion Moonlight

I was pleasantly surprised to find at Tin House Books Blog this stirring appreciation of Kenneth Patchen's The Journal Of Albion Moonlight.

J.C Kallman, the author, refers to Moonlight as a "pivotal" book for him. As it was for me. And for many I've given it to. Because it used to be I would find copies of it and give it away. I'm not sure if they all loved it, but I'm sure most of them did.

I think it's an important book, a unique and maddening and ponderous book all at once. But utterly beautiful and imperfectly honest, a vision wrenched from the soul, a shrapnel stew of vexation and bloody passion. You can pluck hundreds of sentences from it that are among some of the most moving sentences you've ever encountered.

It was written in 1941 by a working-class pacifist poet, the son of a Youngstown steel mill worker.

But tonight my loquaciousness is at a minimum because I'm drugged on heavenly homemade borscht.

I'm not sure I've quoted this paragraph here before, but I think it's something of a miracle and acts as a template for all journeys.

It's on the second page of Albion Moonlight:

Very well. We knew we had no other course but to get away with all attainable speed. A light rain had fallen in the night, and morning brought the drizzle to storm proportions. Our coats were wet through as we sogged out of New York on the first leg of our trip. That a great distance separated us from our goal we knew; that we were in danger of destruction at any hour of the day and night we knew; what we did not know was near madness we would be; how alone; how defenseless: how beset we were with what we had heard, with what we had been taught -- this especially we did not know.

As with many authors, it was Henry Miller who first led me to Patchen by way of an essay he wrote about him that you can now read here, albeit with an awkward background photo pattern.

Good night now.

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