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msarki

M Sarki

Besides being a poet with four collections published, M Sarki is a painter, film maker, and photographer. He likes fine coffee and long walks. 

M Sarki has written, directed, and produced six short films titled Gnoman's Bois de Rose, Biscuits and Striola , The Tools of Migrant Hunters, My Father's Kitchen, GL, and Cropped Out 2010. More details to follow. Also the author of the feature film screenplay, Alphonso Bow.

Currently reading

Brett Whiteley: Art, Life and the Other Thing
Ashleigh Wilson
Girlfriends, Ghosts, and Other Stories
Annette Wiesner, Nicole Kongeter, Robert Walser, Tom Whalen
The Lesser Bohemians
Eimear McBride
My Life and Loves
John F. Gallagher, Frank Harris
Melbourne Beach and Indialantic Florida
Frank J. Thomas
Writing Dangerously: Mary McCarthy and Her World
Stephen Black, Carol Brightman
Seduction and Betrayal: Women and Literature
Elizabeth Hardwick, Joan Didion
My Friend Annabel Lee (1903)
Mary MacLane
Human Days: A Mary MacLane Reader
Bojana Novakovic, Michael R. Brown, Mary MacLane
Stranger Shores: Essays 1986-1999
J.M. Coetzee

Agnes

Agnes - Peter Stamm, John Cullen https://msarki.tumblr.com/post/152063909928/agnes-by-peter-stamm

Written in a language almost too accessible this slim novella fails to challenge the reader to engage in anything. A book almost anyone could have written, the narration rambles on in a linear manner such as a report one is forced to read. Pleasure in reading is hard to come by in this work as the rewards so few that none come to mind. Near the end the narrator writes of having to throw away an ending to the story he is composing about Agnes because there was no feeling in it. Problem was there was no feeling, ever, anywhere. This was my first exposure to the lauded Peter Stamm, and, disappointingly, I expect it will be my last.

Dylan The Biography

Dylan The Biography - Dennis McDougal https://msarki.tumblr.com/post/151713323458/dylan-the-biography-by-dennis-mcdougal

If what Dennis McDougal presents in this biography is in fact true then Bob Dylan is a far different person than the accepted history his celebrity suggests. The tone attached to this appraisal reminds me of a documentary I watched on Hunter S. Thompson some time ago that had him admitting on camera that he lost himself in becoming the person his infamous celebrity had made him. This book as well, almost too eagerly at times, attempts to show how Bob Dylan and Robert Zimmerman became two different people. And to illustrate this ever-widening gulf between the two personalities in respect to all that has been already extensively written regarding Dylan’s life and music offers a novel opportunity for McDougal to move beyond the incessant analysis of his lyrics and well-worn biographical facts. Though often intuited at times to be a “hit piece” of sorts, the book proved to be an interesting read. And as I neared the last fifth of the book I began to see clearly McDougal’s honest fairness presented and redeemed.

The publisher’s opening blurb asks the question, “What happened during the past two decades to transform a heroin addict into one of the most astonishing literary and musical icons in American history?“ I was never aware that Dylan had a heroin addiction, but if true, I am not surprised. And his abusive use of alcohol would explain his erratic behavior both in concert and on the road. I believe I have personally seen him perform to both extremes.

But for some reason McDougal seems to have an unhealthy fixation on Dylan’s sex life and his discarding use of women. Though he does try, McDougal eventually fails in his attempt to portray Dylan as a buck in heat during rutting season. There is no doubt Dylan enjoyed many sexual opportunities due to his royal celebrity. He is probably the most famous American icon who has ever lived. My guess was a woman having sex with Bob Dylan was much different than a tumble in the hay with Robert Zimmerman. The one time I did express a bit of wonder over all these women falling for such a reported mess, with his bad teeth and tendency towards flight, my wife explained, “He’s Bob Dylan. Who wouldn’t want to be with Bob Dylan?”

There is no doubt the man did learn how to live and thrive in a world in which he constantly remade himself even in routinely risking his possible destruction. His work remains vital in spite of his more than five decades continuing to fan the music’s flames. Unlike other long-suffering artists from the sixties, such as the previously amazing Neil Young, Bob Dylan remains an original. And Dennis McDougal makes good use of interviews and available material in which to prove it. I had no idea Bob Dylan was such a real estate mogul. He has countless properties and businesses while remaining silent behind the scenes. Why the man wants as many homes he has is a bit of a conundrum to me, but most likely it is his investment portfolio that directs the management of his financial empire. Hard to imagine Bob Dylan a thriving businessman, but Dennis McDougal diligently follows his winding trail a long way from its humble beginnings on Macdougal Street.

Poetry for Kids: Emily Dickinson

Poetry for Kids: Emily Dickinson - Emily Dickinson, Christine Davenier, Susan Snively https://msarki.tumblr.com/post/151185260698/poetry-for-kids-emily-dickinson-by-susan-snively

Wonderful to imagine a young child being introduced to poetry by Emily Dickinson herself, or someone almost like her. Emily’s words (or most of them) do sound right but in this illustrated collection that historic em dash is missing for those of us who seriously read her. Point is, what matters as importantly to a poet is the way her poem looks. The form it takes, its architecture. In Poetry for Kids: Emily Dickinson edited by Susan Snively it appears the story and illustrations by Christine Davenier takes precedence over remaining true to the work of Emily Dickinson. Though this children’s book is a suitable introduction to one of America’s greatest poets, a disservice is done to the children by the inferior editing. How pretentious to believe a Dickinson poem better, and more accessible, if changed or lightened in its weight in order to be explained inappropriately. It is absurd to think Susan Snively would know best or have better words than the ones Emily had chosen as her own. What alerted me first to this offense was when I read Because I could not stop for death (a favorite poem 712 collected in [b:The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson|1183392|The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson|Emily Dickinson|https://d2arxad8u2l0g7.cloudfront.net/books/1341783054s/1183392.jpg|1443553]) and I immediately felt something wrong. Her exacting words had been changed. And some were even missing. The poem’s meaning obviously altered to reflect what the editor wanted, disregarding the punctuation and form Dickinson had established as her own.

Too often in our public schools creative writing is distilled to a simple formula with hard rules. To a genius the likes of Emily Dickinson none of that instruction would apply, and so, in this book, the young student is robbed of a first exposure to a greater art. The child’s basic education is instead woefully patterned for the young student to simply fit in and be assigned a membership in the herd mentality, adding another number to further our world’s commerce and enterprise.

Rather than maintaining this status quo why not subject even the youngest of readers to the un-edited work of Emily Dickinson? To present her poems as written and collected in her many handmade fascicles neatly tied and bundled underneath her bed? A novel idea that offers far greater opportunities to explore and discuss what art truly is, and in this case, poetry. Teaching also becomes more demanding and expects the instructor to learn herself the truth about her subject. But all is not lost in this attractive children’s book. The more inquisitive ones among these exposed children to a censored, somewhat bowdlerized, Emily will further discover in their own future independent study that what this poet actually presented on each authentic page was truly remarkable. And the shame of it all can then be once again proffered and exposed.

Garcia: A Signpost To New Space

Garcia: A Signpost To New Space - Jerry Garcia, Jann S. Wenner, Charles A. Reich, Jann Wenner The first section was worth the time and cash put out to purchase it. Very interesting and informative. But the second part was severely lacking, and I felt if it was really worthwhile reading the entire "stoned" interview then the publisher should have edited it and put the best parts first. No way was I going to spend the next several days joining Jerry, the mad professor from Yale, and Mountain Girl while they expounded on the wonders of their world on high. And too much use by Jerry of the word "like", which was a warning sign that he was perhaps too stoned to listen to, or for me to enlist much deference to his words.

Et Tu, Babe

Et Tu, Babe - Mark Leyner Unreadable. And I do confess to being obviously ill-equipped to read this type of literature. But I respect those who do as well as those who also can find something worthwhile in their being immersed (and not believing) in wasting one's own precious time. A J.P. Klump liked to say, "It takes all kinds to fill the freeway."

The Most of It

The Most of It - Mary Ruefle http://msarki.tumblr.com/post/150025392913/the-most-of-it-by-mary-ruefle

After recently listening to a couple of podcasts this past summer featuring Mary Ruefle I decided to give her poetry a try. For the record I confess to initially being more interested in her collected lectures [b:Madness, Rack, and Honey: Collected Lectures|13237099|Madness, Rack, and Honey Collected Lectures|Mary Ruefle|https://d2arxad8u2l0g7.cloudfront.net/books/1348707245s/13237099.jpg|18434923]. But in my predictively addictive newfound curiosity in an attractive writer near my own age, whose clear and comforting voice sounded like [a:Patti Smith|196092|Patti Smith|https://d2arxad8u2l0g7.cloudfront.net/authors/1443733105p2/196092.jpg] to me, and who seemed to have a grasp on what I feel most important in the writing I read, I instead decided to try these little prose pieces collected in The Most of It as I waited for a more affordable copy of her revered lectures to come my way. But what began as an exciting delight in reading her short prose slowly turned into boredom, and then, almost abruptly, her lines took a left turn and morphed into indifference. I felt completely hornswoggled. And I should have known better than to have purchased this book anyway when the publishing promo proudly stated: Fans of Lydia Davis and Miranda July will delight in this short prose from a beloved and cutting-edge poet. The book proved to be severely lacking in everything but burdensome disappointment. Mary Ruefle teaches writing. She has the credentials to prove it. And she should demand much better of herself. I was woefully surprised.

Selected Poems

Selected Poems - Mary Ruefle http://msarki.tumblr.com/post/150025150323/selected-poems-by-mary-ruefle

[a:Linda Gregg|248368|Linda Gregg|https://d2arxad8u2l0g7.cloudfront.net/authors/1451533066p2/248368.jpg] won the William Carlos Williams Award for Poetry in 2009. I am not aware of any other notable poet who has won this medal. But when I read all the glowing remarks about Selected Poems by Mary Ruefle, and I discovered that the collection also had won what I believed to be a coveted award, my interest in Ruefle became obsessive and a new study was on. My literary addiction cannot be helped. I am always searching for the next [a:Jack Gilbert|82593|Jack Gilbert|https://d2arxad8u2l0g7.cloudfront.net/authors/1222366375p2/82593.jpg] or [a:Wallace Stevens|42920|Wallace Stevens|https://d2arxad8u2l0g7.cloudfront.net/authors/1208891582p2/42920.jpg], and even amenable to reading a poet similar to [a:Raymond Carver|7363|Raymond Carver|https://d2arxad8u2l0g7.cloudfront.net/authors/1201118985p2/7363.jpg]’s lyrical prose, or the basically unknown and now-dead [a:Casey Finch|231870|Casey Finch|https://s.gr-assets.com/assets/nophoto/user/u_50x66-632230dc9882b4352d753eedf9396530.png] who would have been a great one had he lived. Add my listening to Mary Ruefle speak on two different podcasts over the past summer of 2016 and a robust interest was stimulated for reading all her work. Here I believed I had discovered perhaps another great poet to add to my small but withering collection. Unfortunately, however, her poems became an exacting bore on me, and her bland (and wrong) words crawled across and down the page and numbered too many. Being a teacher of writing she should know this better than anyone. There are better words available if she would only listen and gaze at their beautiful faces. But the straw that finally broke my back was one of her so-called award-winning poems titled The Cart found on page 51. It begins, The empty grocery cart is beginning to roll across the empty parking lot. It’s beginning to act like Marlon Brando might if no one were watching… And that was it for me. I would much rather spend what is left of my remaining life talking about bad fruit, or even our own dying on the vine, than to suffer through one more page of what, because of it, makes so many of us hate all poetry. It is wrong to heap praise on mediocrity.

My Cousin, My Gastroenterologist

My Cousin, My Gastroenterologist - Mark Leyner http://msarki.tumblr.com/post/149974958253/my-cousin-my-gastroenterologist-by-mark-leyner

Perhaps I should confess how impressed I am with Mark Leyner’s ability to keep his rambling psychotic rants on task and focused enough to the degree he maintained, with skill, the mind trip he wanted us privy to. Problem for me was not one story meant anything. There was no physical emotion anywhere amounting to something exampled. He failed to establish or express any substance. His tightrope act at times did appear astounding, but I kept asking myself why even bother? I know he is revered by many, and I respect that, but he is not adored by me. I will nonetheless still take a look at [b:Et Tu, Babe|526571|Et Tu, Babe|Mark Leyner|https://s.gr-assets.com/assets/nophoto/book/50x75-a91bf249278a81aabab721ef782c4a74.png|1247799], but only because I own it.

Coming out of the ice: An unexpected life

Coming out of the ice: An unexpected life - Victor Herman I read this book several years ago on the recommendation of [a:Gordon Lish|232097|Gordon Lish|https://d2arxad8u2l0g7.cloudfront.net/authors/1267719924p2/232097.jpg]. The acknowledgment page credits the person responsible for this book as one who wishes not to be cited, but Herman does provide the initials of his son A.A.L who is none other than [a:Atticus Lish|5782416|Atticus Lish|https://d2arxad8u2l0g7.cloudfront.net/authors/1461055270p2/5782416.jpg]. Anyone who reads this book can plainly see that Gordon Lish wrote it. His voice is all over it. I find it ironic how many readers love this book and so many claim not to like the writing of Gordon Lish. Hilarious.

Jerry on Jerry: The Unpublished Jerry Garcia Interviews

Jerry on Jerry: The Unpublished Jerry Garcia Interviews - Jerry Garcia Wonderful and insightful.

Jerry on Jerry: The Unpublished Jerry Garcia Interviews

Jerry on Jerry: The Unpublished Jerry Garcia Interviews - Dennis McNally Listened to this book throughout the summer of 2016. Will probably revisit from time to time as Jerry offered many bits of wisdom regarding all sorts of life's art and conditions.

This Is the Garden

This Is the Garden - Giulio Mozzi A fine book of short stories. The second title called The Apprentice alone is worth the price of admission. But all are skillfully composed and interesting.

Tristano Dies: A Life

Tristano Dies: A Life - Antonio Tabucchi, Elizabeth  Harris Being a devoted admirer of Antonio Tabucchi, and purchaser of many of his books as gifts for friends and family, I am disappointed to report that this book is unreadable for me. I gave it a go for over a hundred pages, but the torture was unbearable. I wave the white flag.

The Grammar of Rock: Art and Artlessness in 20th Century Pop Lyrics

The Grammar of Rock: Art and Artlessness in 20th Century Pop Lyrics - Alexander Theroux, Robert Crumb http://msarki.tumblr.com/post/148241449118/the-grammar-of-rock-art-and-artlessness-in-20th

What is immediately apparent are the abundant errors present in the text of this garrulous book. The typos and misprints are so numerous I am surprised Alexander Theroux allowed the trade edition to be placed for sale and remain in print. Critical of almost anyone that has had anything to do with a song being sung or a lyric written it seems Theroux would have been a bit more concerned with the accuracy of his own published word. It seems ironic to witness so many errors in a work that attempts to destroy one or more somebodies on every page. He never fails to point out an other’s errors and idiocy, relentless in his attacks on ugly, fat, and untalented speech-impeded celebrities. Theroux could easily be construed as cruel and mean if his attacks weren’t so absolutely absurd and bitingly honest.

Read within this circus season of North American 2016 politics, and the unlikely Republican nomination of an extreme jughead named Donald Trump, it would be wonderful having Alexander Theroux share the same stage with this bombastic businessman and contribute to a debate on say one of Bill Maher’s panels. Maher, no doubt, would gloat in this clownish entertainment and smirk in light of the simpleton’s intellectual prowess. Similarly, The Grammar of Rock confronts head-on the obscene world we live in these days. It is frighteningly real and upsetting. Theroux rather adroitly demonstrates the ineptitude and bad taste absorbing our culture, and offers more than enough examples. Obviously the book’s title fails to expound on what actually will be gnawing away at us between his covers. Theroux bites hard, and often.

The jacket flaps claim the book is about lyrics, grammar, and the history of our songwriters, but for me it is a diatribe against what has become accepted in our country, and emerging around the world, as common speech in our communication with others. Alarmingly funny and digressive, this book is a must-read for those of us who utilize an adequate measure of reason in our lives, or at the least, spiritually want to. However, the errors of our ways are quickly pointed out by Theroux, expanded on, and solutions given as to how to correct this awful disease of the mouth and mind. Theroux is not simply screaming at us as other buffoons on the radio and TV do, and certainly he is not presenting Fox-like News as falsehoods made true that we must adhere our principles to. It is astounding to me how little we really do know as we fervently persist in our struggle to learn all we can. It is humbling to say the least.

Surprisingly, little has been written concerning Theroux’s seemingly hate-filled attacks flung at every sort of character in the public eye, and stereotypical to the degree of absurdity. Of course, there is the typical critical judgment offered that Theroux is a racist or a bigot, which always resembles sour grapes as far as I am concerned. If Theroux managed to attack only black people or gays or people with lisps then I might agree, but Alexander takes no prisoners and equally destroys every type of anomaly in the spoken word and most often includes a disparaging physical description of the subject to boot. Complaints have been raised over fact-checking and the number of errors and untruths discovered in the wordy works of this gifted writer. Not unlike the great performance artist Ray Johnson, whose last act was his own suicide, Theroux supersaturates his volumes of work with more details than possibly could be examined for factual accuracy. Even if his accountings are made-up the mere density of the text proffers extreme feelings of amazement. And he tenders nothing less than hostility and disgust which is what I suppose gives birth and fanciful credence to some claims of racism and bigotry, but in reality his paragraphs are simply personal rancor unhinged and uncensored against the entire human race.

But often Theroux is funny and extremely clever. I doubt any dissenter, besides a foolish Donald Trump, would want to go head-to-head with the man in an argument. Theroux is smart and knows it. And maybe that superiority comes through in his writing? Perhaps there is a bit too much grandiose and admiring countenance for who this writer sees reflected in his mirror. But he is not lazy, and by the sheer numbers of words he employs he insists his readers work as hard as he does. And maybe this book is his version of a cosmic joke and we all fools for thinking his work might be otherwise? I am novice when it comes to reading Alexander Theroux, but I intend to take a good look at most everything he has published. And if I live long enough to accomplish my goal perhaps I will have more to say about this authentic artist. Meanwhile I slog through his long-continuing diatribe and attempt to find a celebrity he may have missed skewering.

The Loft

The Loft - Marlen Haushofer http://msarki.tumblr.com/post/147262650943/the-loft-by-marlen-haushofer

The jacket blurb claims the book explores the anatomy of a desiccated marriage, the power of solitude, and the discord of Austrian society in the aftermath of Nazism. With less than a fifth of the book remaining for me to read there is yet no indication for any examination of Nazism aftermath or Austrian societal discord, which has become a given in all literature pertaining to that horrendous historical event. But solitude, and relationships of every stripe including marriage, are being explored almost savagely and with a hunger yet to be assuaged.

The talent that lies behind the work of Marlen Haushofer is in her ability to write with a voice of reason and affinity for her reader. She is easy to like. It is comforting being with her. Her first-person narrator feels trustworthy and kind, even in light of possible indiscretions or violences looming portentously in the foreground. Because of this honesty in her writing, unseemly behaviors, threatened or otherwise, feel appropriate and okay, even though in hindsight proper society deems them deplorable. But I respect Haushofer as she refuses to mince words and remains steadfast in her attempts at mining the truth from our everyday fictions. Almost any activity the narrator persists in feels unconnected to her. She is simply going through the motions of being a housewife, mother, friend, and caring acquaintance. She is really none of these things with any certainty and commitment. All that matters to her spiritually is her sketching of birds upstairs in the loft, a room she has made of her own in a house that was never meant for her to live in. Her husband remains emotionally distant, but guilt-ridden and shamed enough by his past abandonment of her to fervently provide the monetary means necessary for the household to survive. Herbert considers their nightly television viewing as their sacred time together, and the Saturday afternoon visits to the war museum a shared cultural activity sure to enrich their marriage.

Again, for me, the theme of non-communication and deception in relationships rears its ugly head. And I appreciate Marlen Haushofer bringing it to our attention. Failure to talk about the matters that upset us, that get in our way, or our checkered past threatening to derail everything thought important in our daily life is nothing less than cowardly. For example, in my own recovery from addiction I was told I was only as sick as my secrets. And I still believe this to be true. But how many of us cling to a strict privacy in these shameful matters that keep the very ghosts that threaten our existence alive and thriving? We do ourselves great harm in harboring this dis-ease, and it ultimately ruins the lives of those we so much wanted to love. Including our own.

The Loft is a most definitely an additional Haushofer title worth reading and passing along.

The Wall

The Wall - Marlen Haushofer, Shaun Whiteside http://msarki.tumblr.com/post/146806430403/the-wall-by-marlen-haushofer

What a marvelous book. It is beyond me why this novel is classified a feminist classic as it holds up as something great no matter whose sex wrote it. This is a story of redemption under grave circumstances. It is a tale of determination and persistence in the face of uncertain and daunting circumstances. The novel could be deemed an instruction manual on how to live a life with one’s own self, alone and entrusted with responsibilities perhaps too great for the typical human being handed them. But the narrator prevails and actually thrives in her seclusion, and is given the opportunity for true self-esteem and meaning in her life. And that is not a feminist theme but rather something universal to be strived for no matter what sex one is, or even regarding our present day, working out perhaps what sex one isn’t.

Marlen Haushofer writes in an engaging style, conversing with the reader as if on solid ground and friendly terms, tolerant at all times for the fate she has been faced with, and in my eyes kindly hoping that we might do the same, given similar circumstances. Through her lot of characters she inherits (all domesticated animals), Haushofer develops their personalities emotionally and spiritually to the degree we become as well attached to them, and worry for their happiness, good health, and safety. This book is as good as any I have read, and so accessible that it caused me no care to look a word up or write one down. Sometimes the simplest form works out to be the best. Haushofer certainly found a winning voice within the covers of this little masterpiece of fine literature.