Sunday, May 11, 2008

THE TRUFFLE HOUND IS GONE: Orthodontics for Blue-tick Hounds


(NOTE: Winter is over and the longer days are lit with sunshine. Read a good book into the twilight, not crap like James Frey’s new novel that he pimps as recompense for his phony memoirs. Try Stendahl’s THE RED AND THE BLACK, Arturo Perez-Reverte’s THE QUEEN OF THE SOUTH, or Ovid’s METAMORPHOSIS. Slip on your reading glasses and indulge. Burn your television set.)


Poet and publisher Jonathan Williams passed away on March 16, eight days into his seventy-ninth year, at his home in Highlands, North Carolina. He studied with Charles Olson at Black Mountain College, where he also began making books as The Jargon Society. Williams published and championed poets like Olson, Mina Loy, Lorine Niedecker, Joel Oppenheimer, and James Broughton. His own work showed a delight in the possibilities of the word, from his early AN EAR IN BARTRAM’S TREE (NY: New Directions, 1969) to JUBILANT THICKET: NEW AND SELECTED POEMS (Port Townsend, WA: Copper Canyon Press, 2004). Jonathan was also a first class essayist, gourmand, hiker of the Appalachian Trail and Dentdale, and photographer.

Conversation with Jonathan went everywhere: baseball, the novels of K.C. Constantine, the dumbing down of education, Gustav Mahler symphonies, outsider art, and how the beer at a roadside tavern near Black Mountain College made the greatest impact on contemporary letters. He praised the honest and damned the fools with his voluptuary pen.

Writing about Jonathan Williams in the past tense is wrong. He breathes and stomps the terra in every book out there with his name on the front cover. That some are of print should not dissuade anyone from the search. The gentleman from North Carolina deserves no less. Tip a fork to the memory of Jonathan with a plate of his favorite Hoppin’ John.


HOPPIN' JOHN

2 cups black-eyed peas
1 large onion
4 cups chicken broth
1 pound unsliced bacon
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 cups long-grain white rice

Anyone who knows anything about cooking dried legumes knows that before they go into the pot the peas must be pawed through to pick out the rocks. Put them in a bowl filled with cold water and let sit while listening to Anton Bruckner, and then drain and rinse.

In a large pot, place the clean black-eyed peas and fill with enough water to cover. Set the burner a touch under high heat until the peas boil. Turn off the heat, slap on a lid, and let the peas sit for one hour as you read Basil Bunting to your guests. Drain the peas in a colander and rinse.

Chop the onion. In the same pot, combine chicken broth, black-eyed peas, bacon, onion, and red pepper. Keep the heat to medium for 1-1/2 hours. This is not the time to be fooling with music and poetry. Watch the pot so it never boils. Take out the bacon and cut into manageable pieces. Stir the bacon and uncooked rice into the pot. Use the lid again and let simmer for 25 minutes or until liquid is sucked into the rice and peas. Serve to six of your best friends.


A CLASS FOR THOSE WITH CLASS

“Book Proposals Basics for Beginners” is a one-day workshop taught by me and sponsored by Book Passage on Saturday, August 9, 2008. The event will be held from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM at 51 Tamal Vista Boulevard in Corte Madera, CA.

The book proposal is the single most important tool in the development of a book. It is a sales tool for the writer to find an agent, and through them a publisher. The proposal also provides a map for the final manuscript. Topics include query letters, writing for clarity, research, developing a platform, and working with agents. Sal Glynn is a freelance editor and writer who has edited more than 300 books for publishers on both coasts, and the writer of THE DOG WALKED DOWN THE STREET: AN OUTSPOKEN GUIDE FOR WRITERS WHO WANT TO PUBLISH. The gig costs $95 (an outrageous bargain) and enrollment is through the Book Passage Bookstore:

51 Tamal Vista Boulevard
Corte Madera, CA 94925
(415) 927-0960
(800) 999-7909
Fax (415) 924-3838
www.bookpassage.com


NEXT: Howls From the Kennel

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