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Monday, February 03, 2020

The Fool rejoices...

Art by Clive Hicks-Jenkins

"The Book of the Red King seems to me like a major work, 
if that is a term anyone still uses in the context of poetry."
--Amateur Reader at Wuthering Expectations

So pleased to have the marvelous, wide-ranging Amateur Reader (aka Tom) make a post about The Book of the Red King. (He also mentions a post from novelist Scott G. F. Bailey--always insightful--about the book, and some remarks from poet and novelist Fred Chappell.) I love how he does not insist on pinning down meaning but lets the book keep its strange freedoms.

And here it is. 


  1. Is that the Tom I'm familiar with? And if so what are the expectations at Wuthering? No happy endings for sure.

    Tom is right to query "major" in relation to books. There was a period (before your time) when US novelists seemed incapable of writing anything less than 500 pages. By Love Possessed, by James Gould Cozzens was typical. In absorbing this trend the literati of the time (now all asleep in Abraham's bosom) thus found themselves on the horns of dilemma: could The Great Gatsby be considered "major" given that it breasted the tape at a mere 218 pages? As regards versifiers, sonnet-writers had a hard slog of it as you can imagine.

    1. Probably! I don't know--do you read Wuthering Expectations? I do from time to time because he's so exploratory and open-minded in his reading.

      Haha, there was a recent rage for doorstop books. The Corrections was 576 pages... Middlesex was 544. Etc.

      I hope he was not talking about size, hahaha!

  2. No, size, no! I meant important, lasting. "Why aren't more people talking about this book now? Because they will be, someday."

    I was just lamenting the state of poetry discourse, there at the end.

    1. I knew you meant that, and I thank you for it!

      Yes, just getting the word out about a poetry book these days is a daunting task (unless you're Rupi Kaur or Billy Collins, I suppose!)


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.