by Peter Rose
Such high standards the American magazines maintain, with their enviable resources. Fine valedictory article in the New Yorker by Joyce Carol Oates on the death of her husband of four decades. Slightly uneasy, though, to realise that Oates, in her forensic way, was gathering data for such an article while he was failing.
But the magazines can still terrify. Harper’s Index, which I love reading each month, reveals that two out of every five Americans believe that Jesus Christ will reappear before 2050. What a country! I may still be alive to watch his arrival on television.
Complimented Anna Goldsworthy on her review of Paul Kelly’s memoirs. I like the way Anna listens to a book, a feat of attention of which not all reviewers are capable.
Listening to Gertrude Stein on a new BBC CD of American poets, I was struck by John Ashbery’s debt to her. Could he have written as he did without Stein’s influence? Then Wallace Stevens’s incomparable, somnolent reading of ‘Credences of Summer’. Plath, always seemingly on the verge of tears, reads ‘Candles’; Roethke ‘The Waking’, which Robert Gray read at Philip Hodgins’s funeral at the little cemetery in Timor. Ashbery, too hokey, is not at his best, but I recall his beautiful reading of my favourite poem of his, ‘At North Farm’, in Melbourne in 1992.
Lord, the power of ABR. In the current issue I editorialise about the PM’s Award and call for a consolation prize of $5000 for the non-winners. Lo and behold, it has just been announced. But not, sadly, a poetry prize.
A day at the office on my own, as I rarely am these days. In the early years I often had the place to myself. One functions quite differently. Interesting that Kafka thought of the office as a human being watching him.