Monday, June 28, 2010

Aimless Reading: The H's, Part 33 (Susan Howe)

Howe, Susan
The Europe of Trusts


I am not certain, but I think I bought this at a giant remaindered bookstore in Sarasota, FL. I might be mistaken. It was in 1997, I had just moved to Buffalo in August of that year, my mother had just moved to Sarasota in June after my father had suddenly died the November before. It was my first visit to her new home. I had driven with Taylor Brady and Tanya Hollis for nearly 24 hours straight from Buffalo.

Anyhow, there was this bookstore, which I have mentioned before on this blog, and which is sadly now no more. I went in and walked up the steps to the second floor and around to the left to a hidden little corner where they housed the poetry books. I found a small trove of remaindered avant-garde poetry titles, including Charles Bernstein's Senses of Responsibility (chapbook!), Clark Coolidge's Odes of Roba and, I am pretty sure, this and one other book by Susan Howe, possibly Singularities--all new, and I paid, I think, 10 bucks for them all. I never found any books like them again over the next decade of visiting the store.

Before this purchase, this had been the first book of Susan's that I read. I think I read the whole thing in one sitting without ever leaving the bookstore (I was a little more broke in the 90's than I am now, so this was not unusual). I had read one of her poems in the New Directions Language Poetries anthology and followed this by seeking out her books on the shelves.

I remember sitting down on one of those rolling steppers at St. Mark's Books and reading through the whole thing. I was especially taken with the introduction,'There Are Not Leaves Enough To Crown to Cover to Crown To Cover.' Something about the way she was able to intertwine autobiography with history and literary quotation fascinated me. While the level of difficulty I enjoyed in much language writing was very present and still is, I found her insistence on having a subject at the center of her work led me to a very different place than some of the more de-centered, anti-subjective and apparently a-historical language writing I had previously read.

Anyhow, it's still my favorite and most read of her books.

Click here to read the intro at Google Books.

1 comment:

pattie mccarthy said...

Also my favorite & most read of her books!