Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Kostelanetz Memorandum (part I)

Richard Kostelanetz

Today I received a communication from author and critic Richard Kostelanetz (Wikipedia, Website).  Over the next three days on Highbrow, I will post the communication.  Here is the first part, a summary of recent Kostelanetz titles, each linked to its respective Amazon sales page:
I’ve necessarily come to the realization that the most remarkable achievement of my professional career has been producing work that, in spite of disaffiliation and commercial disadvantages, is recognized in the critical histories of poetry, fiction, music, book-art, and perhaps much else; so that the best utilization of my energies now would be producing work adding to those histories. 
   Because I’ve noticed that few writers produced major books after they’ve past eighty, I’m concentrating on cleaning up my legacies with new works that I hope will survive me. Even if some of them scarcely sell now, may I expect that someday, somewhere, someone will recognize one or another of them. Indeed, history suggests you can wager on it.
    And now for an exhaustive summary:

As alternative autobiography remains a continuing interest, I produced in 2016 AnnotatingMy Bibliography, a monument that runs several hundred pages filled not only with factual information but lively commentary. 

With Amazon CreateSpace, I’ve also published this past year PurePoetrywhich realizes a traditional ideal for modern English literature in a contemporary way;

Read This Thin Novel, an extended narrative composed from only four English words, set one apiece on a recto pages; Splits, which contains the English words divided over opposite pages, both turned outward, making deciphering problematic; Epitaphs, which displays on gravestones of various shapes and sizes fictional, often comic inscriptions that suggest a life lost; Next to You, which is a book-length appreciation of erotic affection ingeniously realized without sexual words or descriptions, becoming the epitome perhaps of my continuing exploration of pristine erotica.

Decyphering is a sequence of typographically ornate numerals that become progressively clearer over the course of classic book-art.

FlipBook and FlipBook infuse into a traditional book structure words and only words whose letters and thus words change over successive pages. Apparently the first time that the flipping format is exploited with words alone, this project appears in two formats, one with pages larger than the other, their titles slightly different, furthering the my continuing exploration of the same text in different formats. 

Letter S / More PO-EMS is two collections of one-word poems, each enhanced in a different way, one collection exploiting repetition and the other division, presented simultaneously and continuously through an entire book.

Contradictions/Two-Letter Passages contains two shorter books entwined, perhaps less complimentary than usual for my double-fronted books, the first with pairs of words that refute each other, the second with pairs that change tense with the substitution or addition of at least two letters.

A-Z Book: Four Novellas runs the English alphabet through four cycles, each successive novella with individual letters more obscure than its predecessor, in a book-length narrative incidentally about the possibilities of contemporary typography and the great tradition of Alphabet Book Art.

Disappointed Literary Authors is a private admonitory memoir that appears in an expensive edition because I want the text to exist outside of my archive, even if it is minimally circulated in my lifetime.

Writinga Novel realizes a book-length continuous narrative with only one word on each book page to its conclusion. 

WritingAnother Novel is what the title says it is.

Prosaic Poems takes two sets of English words—one singlets, the other doublets—continuously counterpointed on opposite pages in a landscape format.

ShortPoems Long Poems explores on continuously opposite pages two sets of two-word poems—one set with the pair adjacent to each other, the other with the two words far apart on a single page. The former set becomes Short Poems and the other Long Poems in this double-fronted book.

?/! collects two sets of English words appropriately proceeding (and thus enhancing) those evocative punctuation marks.

English English explores choice sentences within which the same English word has decidedly different meanings (e.g., “At college his major major was English.”). 

<——————>, whose title refers to a legendary film by Michael Snow, contains pairs of English words that, when visibly separately to the far edges of a two-page spread, can be read continuously (e.g., live & learn).

APolygraphic Novel contains sixteen complimentary erotic stories, each with its own typeface, interwoven one sentence at a time over the course of 120 pages.

Sublime English explores with single-page enhancements certain special English words with uncommon religious and esthetic resonance.

Wordswap contains pairs of English words that, when exchanged, express radically different meanings (e.g., nothing lost, lost nothing). Consider this to be another contribution to my continuing project I call English-Centered Writing.

No other writer in America surely, perhaps elsewhere, is working so elaborately and variously as the apex of book-art and literature.

Otherwise, yet more, yes: 3 Canadian Geniuses reprints a short book, previously available only in Canada from Colombo & Co, that reprints extended appreciative profiles and criticism that Richard Kostelanetz has written about Glenn Gould, Marshall McLuhan, and Northrop Frye, all now gone, alas. Some of these longer essays initially appeared in the Esquire and New York Times Magazine; others, in cultural quarterlies. The defining mark of an RK profile in identifying in the man the sources of excellence in his work. 3 Canadian Geniuses also contains RK’s shorter appreciations of such other Canadian geniuses as Michael Snow, Erving Goffman, Hugh Kenner, R. Murray Schafer, and RK’s closest poetic colleague/muse, John Robert Colombo.

Autobiographies@ 70 is the fourth volume, brilliantly designed by Joshua Boardman, in Richard Kostelanetz’s continuing exploration of alternative autohistoriography not with a chronological narrative but complimentary texts from the seventh decade of his rich life.

With the help of my publishing assistant Andrew Morinelli, whom I first met in that NYU sauna now gone, I also put in book print two classics written by colleagues—Landlessness (in English) by the Italian Alberto Vitacchio and D. E. Steward’s monumental Chroma, which are both now available from Amazon, where they should survive me and them, which is what a classic is supposed to do.

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