50 damned good writers: joan didion
August 24, 2010, 4:35 am
Filed under: 50 damned good writers

joan didion, writer of some note. born: sacramento, california (1934)

she has written over forty years, essays and novels. we have been interested in her time in california. she has two collections of essays from the time she lived there, “the white album”, and “slouching towards jerusalem”. her work during this period is upsetting. she writes about the tenuous hold the nation had on itself on during the end of the vietnam war. her work is unsettling at best, unnerving when she is at her very best. and yes, she is often at her very best in her collection of essays about of the late 1960’s in hollywood in “the white album”. if you want a little fear, and loathing read just the first essay in the book, also called “the white album”.

we read her because she talks about the l.a. riots (we  were there. the united airlines’ pilot said as we landed, “look out of the right side windows to see watts in flames”) and about the manson killings (we where there too, sharon tate and her friends were murdered one night, the next night the labianca’s, whose house was two blocks away from where we were staying with our dear sweet aunt. it could have been us. we went up to watch the policemen swarm the house. last time we walked by, the house had a new street address. convenient, and something ms. didion would  surely note with her usual air of dread.)

50 damned good writers, 50 reasons to revere patti smith, 50 famous fags

arthur rimbaud, writer, born charlesville, france (1854 – 1891)

rimbaud  was 17 when he bedded france’s most famous poet paul verlaine, 19 when he wrote his most famous poem “une saison en enfer / a season in hell”. he continued to share his bed, absynthe, and hashish with the married m. verlaine until verlaine shot rimbaud in amsterdam. that singular act put a damper on their relationship. the poem and bullet made rimbaud the enfant terrible of france. he was so revered by patti smith (born chicago, illinois (1946)), she saluted rimbaud by screaming out “go johnny go, go rimbaud” in “land: horses, land of a thousand dances, la mer” from her seminal album “horses”.

extract from “a season in hell”

once, if my memory serves me well, my life was a banquet where every heart revealed itself, where every wine flowed.one evening

i took beauty in my arms – and i thought her bitter – and i insulted her.

i steeled myself against justice.

i fled. o witches, o misery, o hate, my treasure was left in your care!

i have withered within me all human hope. with the silent leap of a sullen beast, i have downed and strangled every joy …

… ah! i’ve taken too much of that: – still, dear satan, don’t look so annoyed, i beg you! and while waiting for a few belated cowardices, since you value in a writer all lack of descriptive or didactic flair, i pass you these few foul pages from the diary of a damned soul.

[ah, to only be able to read it its native tongue!]

50 amazing faces, 50 damned good writers, fifty reasons to adore the smiths

dame edith sitwell, writer, born scarborough, england (1887 – 1964), photo: cecil beaton

quoting a piece of poetry from the eccentric dame sitwell from a commenter:

CAME the great popinjay
smelling his nosegay:
in cages like grots
the birds sang gavottes.
‘herodiade’s flea
was named sweet Amanda,
she danced like a lady
from here to uganda.

morrissey of the smiths was so taken with this strange and wonderful creature that he used a giant projected picture of her in concerts and made her the cover star of his concert programs.