The Postman Always Rings Twice, the Plumber Rarely More Than Once

I read a book this week, “The Postman Always Rings Twice.” There is no postman, but plenty of rings. The title page of my copy is stamped “WITHDRAWN,” and below that, “CIRCULATION STORAGE,” and above the publisher info., “SIERRA MADRE PUBLIC LIBRARY.” When a library “withdraws” a book, perhaps some helpful librarian might add a…

The Sea Far Away

I was trying to recall Ezra Pound’s line, “And men went down to the sea in ships.” Fine, wonderful line, except that’s not what he said. What Pound said, opening “Canto I,” I now recalled, looking it up, was, “And then went down to the ship.” And I was going to say, that if Pound…

The Myth of Adolescence: James Woods on Jean-Christophe Valtat

Reading James Woods’s review of Valtat’s “03” (New Yorker, September 6), when a comment pops up like the pea in the mattress he opens with, keeping us awake: “He [Camus] proposed four roles…: the conqueror, the seducer, the actor, and the writer. (One notes the convenient glamour of Camus’s chosen roles: not, say, the policeman,…

Camus and The Myth of Syllabus

“One must imagine Sisyphus happy,” Camus says, in The Myth of Sisyphus. So too, one imagines a happy student, book in hand, pushing the syllabus up another class – happy because in the push he writes his own syllabus, for, as Rene Char said, “No bird has the heart to sing in a thicket of…

Albert Camus on the Economic Collapse

An old friend from our South Santa Monica Bay days writes, “Did I hear that right? 5 day forecast for around here is in the upper 80’s.  Visibility for miles.  Air quality is wonderful. But, this is January.” In the mornings we went surfing, and in the afternoons we played whiffle ball in the yard or in…