Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added) is the best-kept secret among contemporary American writers. --John Wilson, ed., Books and Culture. / New at patreon.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Paean to The Long Grass Books, no. 3: Bilge Karasu's Night

A note found on the floor of the chamber belonging to Attorney Clendon. The good man is missing, and much nameless havoc is feared.

* * *

Night slowly comes on. Descends. Already it has begun filling the hollows. Once these are full and it empties onto the plain, everything will turn gray. For a while no light will go on, in the hollows or out beyond. The glow on the hills will seem for a time to suffice; then the hills too will sink into darkness.

Some weeks ago I read a very interesting book by Bilge Karasu, translated by Guneli Gun. I took many careful, tedious notes, as I was trained to do. Unlike my fellows in the comment trade, I was not confused by the separate characters, nor by the way they began to blur and dance and re-configure. I noted with scrupulous attention the place where a second character began to be identified by the letter N. I kept the triple strand of character separated, I followed each to his lair through a labyrinth with monsters. I suffered trial, love, intricate wanderings, violence, metamorphosis, paradox, and reversals. I came face to face—or face to faces—with the Author. The book with its twists and turns stood bared to light in my mind, and I was satisfied with my understanding.

The book seemed to me a worthwhile journey, and though it lacked—because of its surreal, intellectual windings—a certain heart, I found it satisfying. Perhaps, you may say, it is because I am myself a compendium of dry dust from law books, crumbling writs, and shadows of events that do not belong to me. In some moods, I find myself so.

Yesterday evening something strange happened.

I picked up the book; it held a bookmark made from a folded shadow. When I looked closer, I saw that gloom had gathered into letters, and it seemed to me that it was a warrant for my arrest. When I looked again, the letters were gone, and the events of the book had fallen into darkness.

At 2:00 a.m., I woke to see three people standing around my nightstand. They were spooning more darkness into the pages with tarnished silver spoons. The substance flowed like honey into an extractor, spilling down the legs of the nightstand and onto the valuable Turkish carpet on the floor. I cried out in surprise and felt a sudden jabbing pain in my arm, as though a knife blade had swept its length. The three faces lifted only slowly and then fused into a single face: I recognized the suffering, intelligent face of the late Bilge Karasu in a flash of light. Then a cloud swept over the moon, and all was lost in shadow.

I write this by a thin starlight. The darkness has almost reached the steps, and I hear the distant tread of a party of soldiers . . .

--Athanasius Clendon

***

10 comments:

  1. woh,

    I am going to have to read this again tomorrow when I am not fucked up.

    Thats wild. I have been running dreams lately. I have always dreamed vividly. I woke up once in the middle of the night and thought I saw a fat little boy in a sailor suite run past my door.

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  2. We are busily sweeping up the Shadow that has fallen into the kitchen and are no longer aware of the line between sleeping and waking.

    I'm going to experiment with the stuff and bake it into a large pie with blackbirds.

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  3. Dear Ms. Youmans,

    I'm an intern at Cold Mountain Review, and your poem "Children of Paradise" has been selected for inclusion in our 35th anniversary double-issue. If you could email your preferred mailing address to coldmountain@appstate.edu, your announcement letter and contract will be sent forthwith.

    Congratulations and thanks for your time!

    Genevieve Packer
    Professional Writing and Editing Intern
    Cold Mountain Review

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  4. Genevieve,

    That title sounds familiar. I'm afraid that I am sometimes rather careless with my poems and may have lost or tossed that one. Or perhaps it has a new title now--very likely.

    I suppose this is a reprint issue? Shall dutifully write and find out...

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  5. I bet the pot boy is very happy with the mistress being so in demand! cheers darling!!

    Thats fantastic that you have gotten your poetry so out there.

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  6. It would be nice if she could be a little more orderly with the stuff! We often use poems to light the kitchen fire...

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  7. Mr. Bonta,

    We are grateful for your attentions to Attorney Clendon and interest in his literary hackwork. If you have any knowledge of his whereabouts, please inform us immediately. It is growing very dark in here...

    1st Officer R. Scratchbacks,
    Palace Office of Missing Persons

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  8. Hello fellow internet wanderer, hope all is well with with you and yours and that your house hold is all warm and snuggled in.

    Just thinking about you and thought I would say hi.

    S

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  9. Wanderer is right--I arrived from the Carolina mountains today! And am quite relieved to see that the house hasn't sprung a leak.

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Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.