Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Skip Fox' Adventures of Max & Maxine

Not sure what I'd choose if I were headed to the proverbial desert isle and permitted one or, say, a dozen books, the only ones I'd be allowed for a long period of exile, but

in a similarly restrictive situation, say I were on my deathbed with six months to live, give or take a few weeks, I think I might like to have access to this book Skip Fox just sent me, his Adventures of Max & Maxine, from Auguste Press, 659 Fillmore Street, #4, San Francisco, CA 94117.

Because there's a sense of strength and what Henry Miller might have meant by his term "surrender," too, in these strong, mature, substantial songs of what I think is (1)Loss; and (2)and even more so, I think, an approach to death or finality that I would find quite reassuring were I facing my last days. Well, No, I'm not at all sure that this book is really, actually treating of those subjects at all; it certainly doesn't broadcast any such references to them. Nonetheless, I think this good, strong book full of thick, fresh, substantial prose-poetry is informed by "finality" we will all deal with more than a few times in life and at least once in our lives, likely, with no-nonsense gravity. "No-nonsense," I think, describes at least a chunk of the tone and verve that Skip has imparted in his rich, deep evocations here, even where Adventures of Max & Maxine must occasionally employ a pinch of Camp to parse out what "straights and mainstreamers" would serve up as Sentimentality (ain't none of that here) or where he deliberately, I think, teases our dull palates with the aperitifs of "Sex." Well, there's a sense of humor, too, but it's neither mannered nor theatrical; in fact, it's more something that the reader best bring with herself because there are no punchlines, really, and nothing is made to specifically elicit laughter. Just that boring and trendy folks will not sate their usual cravings here. In fact, I think the "Yaka Yaka" that repeats in the early going means to disappoint fans of Seinfeld right from the get-go. Adventures of Max & Maxine is never fare for TV and cheap entertainment. The intelligence and/or sensibility here knows HOW TO LAUGH, even how to laugh at itself, but it doesn't partake of any sorts of disingenuous or fake tropes of self-effacement. "Life" as described and figured in this book may just be a big joke, but not one that's meant to laugh at. And yet, it's not one we're meant to endure without capacity to laugh at ourselves. Skip assumes we've got that capacity and can engender it on our own.

Is this clear in any way? Do get a copy of this book Skip has written, especially if, for example, you're adverse to what Crag Hill would, I think, term "logorrhea" (and rightly disparage). Although Skip's book doesn't necessarily use what C.H. would call "paring" (unless by "paring" he means paring down, not pairing up), it doesn't indulge itself (or us) with excess in any way, either. It's rather like, for example, some of the long blasts of prose/poetry one comes across in some passages of Henry Miller, and, though in some ways similarly crude and masculine, more graceful and post-offensive in sensibility. But I perhaps demean it by "naming it" as Millerian, regardless my affection for that 20th century icon, for it's Skip Fox's writing -- should be identified as his, unique by itself.

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