OK I cheated and skipped a few. Skipped several really. Hell, I read maybe three or four pages tops and had to call it quits. The test, the words. I’m talking about his, IN THE CESSPOOL segment. A vicious volley that never seemed to let up! The teacher, Gordon of course, would have reprimanded me and said go back and read them all again, every god-damned one of them
! But I couldn’t and I can’t. It isn’t in me, though I do admit to loving the look of certain of her words. And a few of them do do me in. Like gnomon
,which is one I have used twice already. There is an old poem of mine it is found in, and then as well front and center in a title of a short film I made. Or how about agog, plenum
, or even saxifrage
? Already have been used. But there is no way I am reading every god-damned word in his Aunt Adele’s list. Or test. But Gordon’s text that accompanies the test, as in the two notes fore and aft, are stupendous and as entertaining as anything Gordon Lish has ever written. I love this Gordo who speaks about his family, his friends and lovers, his enemies who, in my mind, count among his greatest assets. O the mileage gained in having a certain nemesis! Or countless numbers of them even. A figure that might be staggering to somebody like my own dad who just loves having his friends, counting them, who thinks everybody loves him and believes himself so clever, and charming, and good-looking to boot. My dad will be turning eighty-nine years old this August, and he still thinks, of all things, quite highly of his pretty legs. Thinks he has two of the most beautiful appendages and reports to everyone, it seems, that all the ladies comment on them favorably whenever afforded a fortunate chance to have a look-see. Not that my mom appreciates the attention the old boy insists on drawing to himself. She hates the attention actually, but it is the price she has had to pay for keeping him at her side for over sixty-five years. He is such a little boy. There is no doubt that he will never change.
Though much is made on the jacket blurb regarding the importance of Lish’s beloved Aunt Adele, no little significance can be accorded to his own remembrances and what is left of a memory perhaps befuddled within his own advancing old age. This is a novel made for the love of family and its too-late respect for proper social etiquette. Though polite in every respect, Lish patterns a way into the decadence so prevalent in all his works, that sex act that hovers above all else, and the language that somehow makes it all seem possible.
Then, after I finished reading the book and faithfully reported to my wife that Gordo has gone and done it again, written another great work, I decided to revisit the list test of Aunt Adele’s. Seems there were a few words important enough to me to take another look. But not all than the more than thirty-five hundred of them that he persistently listed. I began to place into order what words I believed Gordon absolutely wanted me to know that I might prove to him my strict and undying adherence to his tyrannical orders, and to muster the required energy to prevail against my own ineptitude. My short list held the following: impudent, sepulchral, millenary, jocundity, saxifrage, spiracle, promiscuous, vignette, seditious, spall, nocturne, civility, rosette, shibboleth, axiomatic, egodicy, foolocracy, emiserate, palimpsest, inglorious, unction, possibles, nondurables, possibles (again), pizzlelicker, possibles (again), fettled, saxifrage (again), spiracle, factitious, possibles (again), swale, slaverous, soffit, jissam, cambered, riprap, doggery, bibulous, ponderables, recumbent, adamant, repulse, supersaturate, fugacious, facticity, locutive, penchant, adamic, plenum, and tell me please
you finally get my drift.