Archive for 2012

Bawer On Günter Grass

10 Apr

Gunter Grass

Gunter Grass


The only surprising thing about the anti-Semitic poem that Günter Grass published last week, and that has created an international firestorm, is that he waited so long to write such a thing. Anti-Semitism, after all, is all the rage these days among left-wing European literary intellectuals (excuse the multiple redundancy), and Grass has always prided himself on being in the forefront of these trends, not being a Johann-come-lately.

Who is Günter Grass, you ask? For decades after the 1959 publication of his first and most famous (and highly overrated) novel, The Tin Drum, he was described by admirers as the conscience of postwar Germany. His detractors had other words for him: smug, arrogant, obnoxious. Even Richard Gilman, a writer for the left-wing The Nation whom one might have expected to celebrate the guy, complained in 1982 about his lofty, hectoring tone, stating:

Today there is no writer more swollen with self-importance than Günter Grass, who has begun to think of himself as identical with the fates of German literature, German politics, and German mores. John Updike, for his part, saw Grass as a cautionary case for politically engaged writers: he can't be bothered to write a novel; he just sends dispatches from the front lines of his engagement.

Read it all...

Article by Bruce Bawer.

Born Somewhere Near A Sign

14 Feb

Born somewhere near a sign,
torn number one son to pegged number one daughter,
born unbriefed, debriefed, fed, ouervre fed, fancy links to pattern I would keep,
fumbling first business day after Chief Ike sinks his chancy putt to leap...

The old fairway general defends 27 rounds the calibrating duffer,

posting benign Denver nod to his card, no man tougher,
friend to George S. Patton, president's heart fails again
this time no secret, at the house of Doud,
modest home to modest Mamie's parents,
after the minks go cold. Ike an ill man,
brilliant soldier to doddling ruined nations,
quiet eagle, his brilliant aptitude
not unlike golden creeds, nary an omen
(for what have I to do with Denver
or Friday afternoon presidents)
too soon, now long buried—
newly pleasured speeds,
first fully automated breeds,
blanketed by unpatriotic screeds,
(this was the Fifties, after all)
enumerating the longest season...

Stock exchange sheds 14 billion dollars following Monday,
don't need to be broker or a baker in a two story bunker
to realize then and sometimes now that's still a lot of dough
oblivious to the shredding of September shillings,
free range missiles, vitamin rich, sticky placenta
cool as an old school biker poet's hacienda
that same day...

Market recovery proved this tumble nothing more,
one of those classic singular events out for the score. Firm
smiling all white Air Force nurses surely the neatest,
most of the manners were breeding not training,
chickens and eggs the plural oasis, fairest of keen creatures
(I'm no more sorry you don't understand than you are in expecting me to stop
policing your trash with that other snippet I found, latest flash crop)
melting into sand castles, cocoa buttered glasses, West Palm Beach mysteries
in surly 1955 panoply, unbuckling to meet jolly ad campaign standards
lost in sudden surprises reworked for our sunbelt tomorrow...

Liberty's seen evidence that someone snapped a picture,
but publicity was mum,
awkward tenor of the times,
but I Like Ike was ailing. Hard. First feeble steps
negotiated (forget the Russians) a whole month later,
and verily, verily, plumb Dick Nixon unexpectedly
now a prime number,

a quick bitter decade still in progress,
critical Left Bank unified as an evergreen,
like a barrel-chested barstool transmogrified
into national traitor,

but Ike warned us clearly, Watch Out!
scorn that double blind M-I-C clout,
quadrennial flowers on stage, minimum wage,
competing with well-prepared lies, worthless pap,
announcing this primal rebellion of New America.

Heard enough fad fantasies of freedom to clock her fade,
seen enough mad soldiers choking on poverty to crack no grenade,
'coz the proof I sought, the proof I fought, the proof I ought
to have earned at birth found me dissatified
the same hour I died on the page.

[2012, Washington DC ]


"Ignorance and virtue suck on the same straw. Souls grow on bones, but die beneath bankers' hours.""