Details

ISBN-10: 0811216675
ISBN-13: 9780811216678
Publisher: New Directions Publishing Corporation
Publish Date: 11/01/2006
Dimensions: 9.26" L, 7.12" W, 1.26" H

The Way It Wasn’t: From the Files of James Laughlin

Editor: Barbara Epler
Editor: Daniel Javitch

Paperback

Price: $25.00

Overview

James Laughlin–poet, ladies’ man, heir to a steel fortune, and the founder of New Directions–was still at work on his autobiography when he died at 83. He left behind personal files crammed with memories and memorabilia: in M he is taking Marianne Moore to Yankee games (outings captured here in charming snapshots) to discuss arcane mammals, and in N nearly plunging off a mountain, hunting butterflies with Nabokov (Volya was a doll in a very severe upper-crust Russian way).

With an accent on humor, The Way It Wasn’t is a scrapbook loaded with ephemera–letters and memories, clippings and photographs. This richly illustrated album glitters like a magpie’s nest, if a magpie could have known Tennessee Williams, W.C. Williams, Merton, Miller, Stein, and Pound. In C: I wish that nice Jean Cocteau were still around. He took me to lunch at the Grand Véfours in the Palais-Royal and explained all about flying saucers. He understood mechanical things. He would advise me. In P: There was not much ‘gracious living’ in Pittsburgh, where at one house, the butler passed chewing gum on a silver salver after coffee. And: The world is full of a large number of irritating people. In H there’s Lillian Hellman: What a raspy character. When I knocked at her door to try to borrow one of her books (hoping to butter her up) she only opened her door four inches and said words to the effect: ‘Fuck off, you rapist.’ Marketing in M: I think it’s important to get the ‘troubadours’ into the title. That’s a ‘buy-me’ word. In G: Olga asked Allen Ginsberg if he was also buying Pound Conference T-shirts for his grandchildren. She was most lovable throughout. In L: Wyndham Lewis wrote ‘Why don’t you stop New Directions, your books are crap.’ And we find love in L: Cicero noted that an old love pinches like a crab. But in The Way It Wasn’t James Laughlin’s love of the crazy world and his crazier authors does not pinch a bit: it glows with wit and enlarges our feeling for the late great twentieth century.

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Laughlin was more than the greatest American publisher of the twentieth century: His press was the twentieth century.–Eliot Weinberger "The Nation"
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Details

ISBN-10: 0811216675
ISBN-13: 9780811216678
Publisher: New Directions Publishing Corporation
Publish Date: 11/01/2006
Dimensions: 9.26" L, 7.12" W, 1.26" H
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