Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added) is the best-kept secret
among contemporary American writers. --John Wilson, editor, Books and Culture Marly Youmans is a novelist and poet out of sync with the times
but in tune with the ages. --First Things

Friday, April 01, 2016

Spring sale at Phoenicia

Now through April 15, with a special gift for the first five who order.
Phoenicia Publishing (Montreal)

"Mystery is in the morning, and mystery in the night,
and the beauty of mystery is everywhere." 
–Melville's The Confidence-Man, published today in 1857


  1. Just think: in one of these books you and I are rubbing shoulders. You enthroned in legitimacy, me having entered through the cat door. I'm in danger of sun-stroke from all that reflected glory.

    I well remember my first sally into print: four lines about a jumble sale at St Barnabas Church, Heaton. Since I wasn't then a journalist, only a teaboy with the newspaper, I was paid four copper pennies as a way of encouraging me towards greater efforts. Who'd have thought...?

    1. That little anecdote deserves to be in a storyl It's quite colorful and enticing.

      Cat door. Cat door! And glory. You are funny. How do I see myself? Well, I persist in doing exactly what I want in words and not being very wise about the business side of things. So I am a not-much-known writer living in an obscure part of upstate New York (nothing appears to matter in New York State except the city, at least as far as writers and artists are concerned.) So perhaps I ought to use the cat door myself. I do have several cats but no cat door.

      The USA is just a mighty big place.... And it's such a shiny, flashy mercantile sort of place, too. Hard to have a lot of visible glory when there's such material gaud glittering and blazing, and when a person insists on skipping after her own Thoreauian drummer.

  2. Our daughter, Professional Bleeder (formly a phlebotomist, now translated into her own form of glory teaching the hard sciences), has been staying. She specialises in long-lived cats for which she has a cat door - tricky to install in a modern air-tight "human" door made out of double thickness cavity plastic. Her last cat died a year ago and she's been getting antsy (catsy?) about her catlessness. A friend offered a three-legged cat, saying (calculatingly) she could have it on a trial-and-return basis if things didn't suit. But PB can tell a hawk from a handsaw and refused, foreseeing the poignancy of trying to return the tri-legger after it had struggled to get through its mini-portal.

    With all due respect you are not the one to be a'judging your own glory. I, the outsider, am far better equipped. And I see you as Ozymandius but without the depressing aftermath. And yes I do look on your works and I do despair. Apart from your many literary competences you are a hard worker. In the last eight years I have written four novels, about forty short stories, some three score sonnets, well over a thousand blogposts and many many comments. During one unproductive afternoon when invention was a hard mistress to be a'wooing I worked out a daily word-rate and sat back smugly. But even a cursory glance at The Palace at 2 AM shows I am trailing your coat-tails.

    Of course, hard work in pursuit of nugatory goals would be a sad story. But there's quality for all to see and also a ready supply of wit, a rare blessing, rather hard to define.

    I wanted to say something about Housman as a way of keeping up with the Youmans. But that would be piling Pelion on Ossa. Does AEH have any sort of standing in upstate NY?

    Mercantile, gaud and Thoreauian all in one short para. You see what I'm up against.

    1. Hah, well, I must be off with no time to tilt with you! It is, alas, pouring snow onto the flowers, and I must be elsewhere. I shall come back in the afternoon, unless I am trapped in a snow drift.

      Talk later. Flatterer!

  3. Perhaps I should name the Puffcat (who formerly had a royal name) "Handsaw."

    Ozymandius, indeed! You could probably find somebody else who thought the fate of my work would be not a "colossal wreck" but a minor one, and not in "lone and level sands" but in a backyard sandbox! Everybody has an opinion, after all.

    I do like Housman. Even wrote a poem for him once, which appeared in "Books and Culture" and is collected in "The Throne of Psyche."

    Rue for A. E. Housman

    To have one love for all your life
    And it as dear as breath,
    To lose the shape of what you loved
    In distance, then in death:

    Yes, what a funny world it is,
    Where this is not the worst
    That can occur—and daily does.
    The mouth that did not thirst

    For yours is dust, and you are not.
    Yet heedless of all doom,
    The children shout immortal joys,
    Again the roses bloom.

  4. Terrific, even though you flirt dangerously - but in the end successfully - with positive matters. I stared for some time at "funny", applying it to his laconic tone of voice, imagining it said despairingly, decided you were right and that you are certainly better informed about AEH than I am. Almost certainly knew the parody:

    What? Still alive at twenty-two?
    A fine upstanding lad like you?

    Wenlock Edge is just a few miles up the road from where we live and we pass it whenever we travel to the Lake District to meet my brother, an avid walker, who having bestrode the Pyrenees from the Bay of Biscay to the Mediterranean, traversed the Alps, scaled all the peaks in Scotland above 3000 ft (Munros), done Britain end-to-end (Land's End to John O'Groats) and having strung together France's four great gorges, has wrecked his knees and is having to make do with thinner gruel. Pronounced himself disappointed with Housmanland. I explained that Shropshire is more of a literary county than an exercise in physical geography. Tossed in "And all's to do again" since VR (who was then VT) quoted it on our second or third date and it helped me decide I had probably met my soulmate. A number of themes which I felt tempted to dump on your doorstep, suspecting you'd react unexpectedly. Which you did. And magnificently.

    Ages ago (ie, a month or two back) we discussed self-promotion, since you do it with great style, while I - existing on shorter commons in the matter of life expectancy - am a typical British amateur. Effortlessly this tightly reasoned poem has promoted you without - I suspect - you even trying. Even if you were trying it isn't important since the poem is good enough anyway and I may find myself disposed to acquire The Throne of Pyche. If I do you must realise this to be a huge achievement on your part. I was born in Yorkshire, famed for its meanness and it its mean-spiritedness, where the hand only travels reluctantly towards the pocket.

    As to Ozymandius I did say "without the depressing aftermath". Surely the only criticisable thing O did was to die (possibly not expecting to). True I can't square that steely look on your comment thumbnail with that sneer "of cold command" but, heck, O did things. Where are the artefacts of those who opposed him? To be remembered in some distant desert centuries later isn't entirely bad.

    O Gawd. More running on.

  5. I suppose all of us who blither (well, I will admit to blog-blithering!) online are fond of "running on." And as I can't run on my legs (my spine no longer likes it), I shall not give up.

    How interesting that you confirmed your soul mate via a quote from a poem. Another good reason to memorize, I suppose--it might be a better way of picking love than by the usual methods. And that summation of your brother's walking achievements is so enticing. On this side of the puddle, we have some wondrous, absurd, and colorful names, but I do love UK names. (I seem to know a great many people who have fancy new knees, though I don't know if that's good enough for an ambitious hiker.)

    You do credit me with abilities in marketing that I don't see--that is, I can grasp how reading a poem or passage or an interesting review might convince someone to read more, but I've never really gotten how it works in other ways. In fact, I tend to think of myself as a marketing moron. Truly, I think that almost the only marketing that produces notable results is to have a book not just on a major list but in lead position. After all, they say it's only 3% of writers who can support themselves. Otherwise, the whole subject is composed of the kind of mystery I don't particularly like.

    "Funny" is certainly a collider, and was meant to be. And the tone is part of that, I think, bumping up against loss and terrible things. I suppose that's all I say, as I think it's a bit dangerous to shred something so small--might not be anything left but a bit of Hawthorne's butterfly glitter on the floor.


Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.