Carcass — Gely Korzhev

Carcass, 1989 by Gely Korzhev (1925-2012)

“The Brother” — Robert Coover

“The Brother”

by

Robert Coover


right there right there in the middle of the damn field he says he wants to put that thing together him and his buggy ideas and so me I says “how the hell you gonna get it down to the water?” but he just focuses me out sweepin the blue his eyes rollin like they do when he gets het on some new lunatic notion and he says not to worry none about that just would I help him for God’s sake and because he don’t know how he can get it done in time otherwise and though you’d have to be loonier than him to say yes I says I will of course I always would crazy as my brother is I’ve done little else since I was born and my wife she says “I can’t figure it out I can’t sec why you always have to be babyin that old fool he ain’t never done nothin for you God knows and you got enough to do here fields need plowin it’s a bad enough year already my God and now that red-eyed brother of yours wingin around like a damn cloud and not knowin what in the world he’s doin buildin a damn boat in the country my God what next? you’re a damn fool I tell you” but packs me some sandwiches just the same and some sandwiches for my brother Lord knows his wife don’t have no truck with him no more says he can go starve for all she cares she’s fed up ever since the time he made her sit out on a hillside for three whole days rain and everything because he said she’d see God and she didn’t see nothin and in fact she like to die from hunger nothin but berries and his boys too they ain’t so bright neither but at least they come to help him out with his damn boat so it ain’t just the two of us thank God for that and it ain’t no goddamn fishin boat he wants to put up neither in fact it’s the biggest damn thing I ever heard of and for weeks wees I’m tellin you we ain’t doin nothin but cuttin down pine trees and haulin them out to his field which is really pretty high up a hill and my God that’s work lemme tell you and my wife she sighs and says I am really crazy r-e-a-1-l-y crazy and her four months with a child and tryin to do my work and hers too and still when I come home from haulin timbers around all day she’s got enough left to rub my shoulders and the small of my back and fix a hot meal her long black hair pulled to a knot behind her head and hangin marvelously down her back her eyes gentle but very tired my God and I says to my brother I says “look I got a lotta work to do buddy you’ll have to finish this idiot thing yourself I wanna help you all I can you know that but” and he looks off and he says “it don’t matter none your work” and I says “the hell it don’t how you think me and my wife we’re gonna eat I mean where do you think this food comes from you been puttin away man? you can’t eat this goddamn boat out here ready to rot in that bastard sun” and he just sighs long and says “no it just don’t matter” and he sits him down on a rock kinda tired like and stares off and looks like he might even for God’s sake cry and so I go back to bringin wood up to him and he’s already started on the keel and frame God knows how he ever found out to build a damn boat lost in his fog where he is Lord he was twenty when I was born and the first thing I remember was havin to lead him around so he didn’t get kicked by a damn mule him who couldn’t never do nothin in a normal way just a huge oversize fuzzyface boy so anyway I take to gettin up a few hours earlier ever day to do my farmin my wife apt to lose the baby if she should keep pullin around like she was doin then I go to work on the boat until sundown and on and on the days hot and dry and my wife keepin good food in me or else I’d of dropped sure and no matter what I say to try and get out of it my brother he says “you come and help now the rest don’t matter” and we just keep hammerin away and my God the damn thing is big enough for a hundred people and at least I think at least it’s a place to live and not too bad at that at least it’s good for somethin but my wife she just sighs and says no good will come of it and runs her hands through my hair but she don’t ask me to stop helpin no more because she knows it won’t do no good and she’s kinda turned into herself now these days and gettin herself all ready and still we keep workin on that damn thing that damn boat and the days pass and my brother he says we gotta work harder we ain’t got much time and from time to time he gets a coupla neighbors to come over and give a hand them sucked in by the size and the novelty of the thing makin jokes some but they don’t stay around more than a day or two and they go away shakin their heads and swearin under their breath and disgusted they got weaseled into the thing in the first place and me I only get about half my place planted and sec to my stock as much as I can my wife she takes more care of them than I can but at least we won’t starve we say if we just get some rain and finally we get the damn thing done all finished by God and we cover it in and out with pitch and put a kinda fancy roof on it and I come home on that last day and I ain’t never goin back ain’t never gonna let him talk me into nothin again and I’m all smellin of tar and my wife she cries and cries and I says to her not to worry no more I’ll be home all the time and me I’m cryin a little too though she don’t notice just thinkin how she’s had it so lonely and hard and all and for one whole day I just sleep the whole damn day and the rest of the week I work around the farm and one day I get an idea and I go over to my brother’s place and get some pieces of wood left over and whaddaya know? they are all livin on that damn boat there in the middle of nowhere him and his boys and some women and my brother’s wife she’s there too but she’s madder than hell and carpin at him to get outa that damn boat and come home and he says she’s got just one more day and then he’s gonna drug her on the boat but he don’t say it like a threat or nothin more like a fact a plain fact tomorrow he’s gonna drug her on the boat well I ain’t one to get mixed up in domestic quarrels God knows so I grab up the wood and beat it back to my farm and that evenin I make a little cradle a kinda fancy one with little animal figures cut in it and polished down and after supper I give it to my wife as a surprise and she cries and cries and holds me tight and says don’t never go away again and stay close by her and all and I feel so damn good and warm about it all and glad the boat thing is over and we get out a little wine and we decide the baby’s name is gonna be either Nathaniel or Anna and so we drink an extra cup to Nathaniel’s health and we laugh and we sigh and drink one to Anna and my wife she gently fingers the little animal figures and says they’re beautiful and really they ain’t I ain’t much good at that sorta thing but I know what she means and then she says “where did you get the wood?” and I says “it’s left over from the boat” and she don’t say nothin for a moment and then she says “you been over there again today?” and I says “yes just to get the wood” and she says “what’s he doin now he’s got the boat done?” and I says “funny thing they’re all living in the damn thing all except the old lady she’s over there hollerin at him how he’s gettin senile and where does he think he’s sailin to and how if he ain’t afraid of runnin into a octypuss on the way he oughta get back home and him sayin she’s a nut there ain’t no water and her sayin that’s what she’s been tellin him for six months” and my wife she laughs and it’s the happiest laugh I’ve heard from her in half a year and I laugh and we both have another cup-of wine and my wife she says “so he’s just livin on that big thing all by hisself?” and I says “no he’s got his boys on there and some young women who are maybe wives of the boys or somethin I don’t know I ain’t never seen them before and all kinda damn animals and birds and things I ain’t never seen the likes” and my wife she says “animals? what animals?” and I says “oh all kinds I don’t know a whole damn menagerie all clutterin and stinkin up the boat God what a mess” and my wife laughs again and she’s a little silly with the wine and she says “I bet he ain’t got no pigs” and “oh yes I seen them” I says and we laugh thinkin about pigs rootin around in that big tub and she says “I bet he ain’t got no jackdaws” and I says “yes I seen a couple o£ them too or mostly I heard them you couldn’t hardly hear nothin else” and we laugh again thinkin about them crows and his old lady and the pigs and all and my wife she says “I know what he ain’t got I bet he ain’t got no lice” and we both laugh like crazy and when I can I says “oh yes he does less he’s took a bath” and we both laugh til! we’re cryin and we finish off the wine and my wife says “look now I fyiow what he ain’t got he ain’t got no termites” and I says “you’re right I don’t recollect no termites maybe we oughta make him a present” and my wife she holds me close quiet all of a sudden and says “he’s really movin Nathaniel’s really movin” and she puts my hand down on her round belly and the little fella is kickin up a terrific storm and I says kinda anxious “does it hurt? do you think that—?” and “no” she says “it’s good” she says and so I says with my hand on her belly “here’s to you Nathaniel” and we drain what’s left in the bottom of our cups and the next day we wake up in each other’s arms and it’s rainin and than God we say and since it’s rainin real good we stay inside and do things a round the place and we’re happy because the rain has come just in time and in the evenin things smell green and fresh and delicious and it’s still rainin a little but not too hard so I decide to take a walk and I wander over by my brother’s place thinkin I’ll ask him if he’d like to take on some pet termites to go with his collection and there by God is his wife on the boat and I don’t know if he drug her on or if she just finally come by herself but she ain’t sayin nothin which is damn unusual and the boys they ain’t sayin nothin neither and my brother he ain’t sayin nothin they’re just all standin up there on top and gazin off and I holler up at them “nice rain ain’t it?” and my brother he looks down at me standin there in the rain and still he don’t say nothin but he raises his hand kinda funny like and then puts it back on the rail and I decide not to say nothin about the termites and it’s startin to rain a little harder again so I turn away and go back home and I tell my wife about what happened and my wife she just laughs and says “they’re all crazy he’s finally got them all crazy” and she’s cooked me up a special pastry with £rcsh meat and so we forget about them but by God the next day the rain’s still comin down harder than ever and water’s beginnin to stand around in places and after a week of rain I can see the crops is pretty well ruined and I’m havin trouble keepin my stock fed and my wife she’s cryin and talkin about our bad luck that we might as well of built a damn boat as plant all them crops and still we don’t figure things out I mean it just don’t come to our minds not even when the rain keeps spillin down like a ocean dumped upsidedown and now water is beginnin to stand around in big pools really big ones and water up to the ankles around the house and Icakin in and pretty soon the whole damn house is gettin fulla water and I keep sayin maybe we oughta go use my brother’s boat till this blows over but my wife she says “never” and then she starts in cryin again so finally I says to her I says “we can’t be so proud I’ll go ask him” and so I set out in the storm and I can hardly see where I’m goin and I slip up to my neck in places and finally I get to where the boat is and I holler up and my brother he comes out and he looks down at where I am and he don’t say nothin that bastard he just looks at me and I shout up at him I says “hey is it all right for me and my wife to come over until this thing blows over?” and still he don’t say a damn word he just raises his hand in that same sillyass way and I holler “hey you stupid sonuvabitch I’m soakin wet goddamn it and my house is fulla water and my wife she’s about to have a kid and she’s apt to get sick all wet and cold to the bone and all I’m askin you—” and right then right while I’m still talkin he turns around and he goes back in the boat and I can’t hardly believe it me his brother but he don’t come back out and I push up under the boat and I beat on it with my fists and scream at him and call him ever name I can think up and I shout for his boys and for his wife and for anybody inside and nobody comes out “Gowdamn you” I cry out at the top of my lungs and half sobbin and sick and then feelin too beat out to do anythin more I turn around and head back for home but the rain is thunderin down like mad now and in places I gotta swim and I can’t make it no further and I recollect a hill nearby and I head for it and when I get to it I climb up on top of it and it feels good to be on land again even if it is soggy and greasy and I vomit and retch there awhile and move further up and the next thing I know I’m wakin up the rain still in my face and the water halfway up the hill toward me and I look cut and I can see my brother’s boat is fioatin and I wave at it but I don’t see nobody wave back and then I quick look out towards my own place and all I can see is the top of it and of a sudden I’m scared scared about my wife and I go tearin for the house swimmin most all the way and cryin and shoutin and the rain still comin down like crazy and so now well now I’m back here on the hill again what little there is left of it and I’m figurin maybe I got a day left if the rain keeps comin and it don’t show no signs of stoppin and I can’t see my brother’s boat no more gone just water how how did he know? that bastard and yet I gotta hand it to him it’s not hard to see who’s crazy around here I can’t see my house no more I just left my wife inside where I found her I couldn’t hardly stand to look at her the way she was

Thanksgiving — John Currin

Thanksgiving 2003 by John Currin born 1962

Thanksgiving, 2003 by John Currin (b. 1962)

“One day is there of the series / Termed Thanksgiving day” — Emily Dickinson

ED

This is Thanksgiving Day, a good old festival | Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Journal Entry for November 24, 1843

Thursday, November 24th.–This is Thanksgiving Day, a good old festival, and we have kept it with our hearts, and, besides, have made good cheer upon our turkey and pudding, and pies and custards, although none sat at our board but our two selves. There was a new and livelier sense, I think, that we have at last found a home, and that a new family has been gathered since the last Thanksgiving Day. There have been many bright, cold days latterly,–so cold that it has required a pretty rapid pace to keep one’s self warm a-walking. Day before yesterday I saw a party of boys skating on a pond of water that has overflowed a neighboring meadow. Running water has not yet frozen. Vegetation has quite come to a stand, except in a few sheltered spots. In a deep ditch we found a tall plant of the freshest and healthiest green, which looked as if it must have grown within the last few weeks. We wander among the wood-paths, which are very pleasant in the sunshine of the afternoons, the trees looking rich and warm,–such of them, I mean, as have retained their russet leaves; and where the leaves are strewn along the paths, or heaped plentifully in some hollow of the hills, the effect is not without a charm. To-day the morning rose with rain, which has since changed to snow and sleet; and now the landscape is as dreary as can well be imagined,–white, with the brownness of the soil and withered grass everywhere peeping out. The swollen river, of a leaden hue, drags itself sullenly along; and this may be termed the first winter’s day.

From Nathaniel Hawthorne’s American Note-Books.

The Horn — Neo Rauch

The Horn, 2014 by Neo Rauch (b. 1960)

Many Men — Ben Shahn

Many Men, 1968 by Ben Shahn (1898-1969)

The First Thanksgiving — Warrington Colescott

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The First Thanksgiving, 1973 by Warrington Colescott (1921 – 2018)

Screenshot 2018-11-19 at 3.38.36 PMScreenshot 2018-11-19 at 3.38.55 PMScreenshot 2018-11-19 at 3.39.56 PMScreenshot 2018-11-19 at 3.38.08 PM

A grave and dark-clad company!” quoth Goodman Brown.

In truth, they were such. Among them, quivering to-and-fro, between gloom and splendor, appeared faces that would be seen, next day, at the council-board of the province, and others which, Sabbath after Sabbath, looked devoutly heavenward, and benignantly over the crowded pews, from the holiest pulpits in the land. Some affirm, that the lady of the governor was there. At least, there were high dames well known to her, and wives of honored husbands, and widows, a great multitude, and ancient maidens, all of excellent repute, and fair young girls, who trembled lest their mothers should espy them. Either the sudden gleams of light, flashing over the obscure field, bedazzled Goodman Brown, or he recognized a score of the church-members of Salem village, famous for their especial sanctity. Good old Deacon Gookin had arrived, and waited at the skirts of that venerable saint, his reverend pastor. But, irreverently consorting with these grave, reputable, and pious people, these elders of the church, these chaste dames and dewy virgins, there were men of dissolute lives and women of spotted fame, wretches given over to all mean and filthy vice, and suspected even of horrid crimes. It was strange to see, that the good shrank not from the wicked, nor were the sinners abashed by the saints. Scattered, also, among their pale-faced enemies, were the Indian priests, or powows, who had often scared their native forest with more hideous incantations than any known to English witchcraft.

–From “Young Goodman Brown,” Nathaniel Hawthorne (1835)

Kangaroo Blank — Imants Tillers

Kangaroo Blank, 1988 by Imants Tillers (b. 1950)

It makes me a participant in the universe | Barry Hannah on Cormac McCarthy’s prose

Interviewer: You mention the influence of Faulkner. Who are some of the writers around at the moment who you admire and who influence you?

Hannah: Cormac McCarthy. It’s not just the language, although I can’t imagine loving his books without the special language. He’s one of the few writers who has a vision. Relentless. It’s very rough—almost fascistic, as nature is. Darwinian. But he gives such reverence to nature itself. I think that is why he seems atavistic; he likes the fact that there was a time when boulders, trees, mosses with lichens—all their individual names participated right next to man. And even though there are horrible things that happen in his books, he’s quite sure that we have disconnected ourselves from the good stuff. He can make a gorgeous, almost epic, page out of a man riding a horse through a half decent meadow somewhere in Mexico. Actually, it kind of makes me excited in a positive way—does not depress me as it does others—because it makes me a participant in the universe. You are no longer just a dead man, floating. You’re right there with the stars, smoke, the peace, and the beauty—as well as the violence. It makes you a player.

From a 1996 interview with Barry Hannah. Published in a 2011 issue of Mississippi Review.

Reading the Mountain — Sergio Ceccotti

Reading the Mountain, 2015 by Sergio Ceccotti (b. 1935)

Selections from One-Star Amazon Reviews of Cormac McCarthy’s The Passenger

[Editorial note: The following citations come from one-star Amazon reviews of Cormac McCarthy’s novel The Passenger. I think The Passenger is a brilliant, messy, baggy synthesis of much of the philosophical and aesthetic themes of McCarthy’s previous work; I loved it.

I’ve preserved the reviewers’ own styles of punctuation and spelling. More one-star Amazon reviews.]


jumble

I’m too old

Horrible sci fi

another gut-punch.

literary tricksterisms

this one is different in so many ways

the airplane is never mentioned again

a cluster mess of absolutely nothing

Virtue signaling

who is missing

Zero.

Zilch.

Nada.

rambling

confusing

nonsensical

300 pages of mostly sci-fi

nothing like his previous writings

This author has written several really good novels

The only mention of salvage diving to find a plane was in the beginning of the book.

nothing about it makes one happy to be reading it

Introspection with no development

mediocrity

absurdity

Incest

A plot with … no plot.

I literally threw it in the garbage

portions in italics about some person with flipper hands in some alter reality

Tedious chapters where a character we never meet argues with her imaginary friends.

the editor and McCarthy were both under the influence of something!

he has decided to eliminate quotation marks

these questions are never answered

disjointed

irregular

senseless

I am a fan of McCarthy

The only passenger is the reader

reads like two people on an acid trip

If you are an average reader then you will find this book difficult to read

Why is the plane in the river

lack of punctuation

time line confusing

no stars

ten zeros

lost and confused

made me feel stupid

one of Americas great writers

A lot of physics talk by men with questionable morals.

a sunken private jet in the Gulf of Mexico is the MacGuffin in this book

I’ve read two other Cormac McCarthy works: The Road, and No Country For Old Men. I enjoyed them both, although they were nothing special.

If this book had been submitted for publication by an unknown author it never would have been published

gassy dialogue about cars, tools, diving, drinking, the Deep State, hopeless forbidden love, and loss

I get the distinct impression that the publicists never read more than the beginning of the book.

Will I read the sequel? Probably, just to see if this novel can be redeemed.

not the action adventure novel that the jacket cover advertises

I was continuing out of spite.

life is too short

What story?

 

God, Please Give Me a New Name! — Raymond Pettibon

God, Please Give Me a New Name, 1985 by Raymond Pettibon (b. 1957)

Marketa Lazarová (1967, dir. František Vláčil)

Moby Dick — Christophe Chabouté

Illustration for Moby-Dick, 2014 by Christophe Chabouté (b. 1967)

Four Studies of Frogs — Jacques de Gheyn II

Four Studies of Frogs, by Jacques de Gheyn II (c.1565 –1629)

“Geniuses were not fun, but Mr. Gaddis was fun” | Joy Williams reads a tribute to William Gaddis