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Walter Carey
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after A Moveable Feast We only have Papa’s account of this, That Scott Fitzgerald asked him to weigh in With ‘absolute honesty’ on the question That filled Fitzgerald’s heart with fear and dread: Was he big enough? Was he man enough To please a woman? “Zelda?” his friend asked. Scott nodded. “Yes, Zelda. Who else?” It’s clear Hemingway wants to reassure Fitzgerald with a comforting response. He fumes at women. “They’re all alike. They want to destroy a man—it’s true! Crazy Zelda’s trying to kill you.” Scott looks up from his cherry tart: “You don’t know anything about Zelda!” Hemingway backs off that one like hot Potato soup dropped in his lap by one Of old Michaud’s careless waiters. He dips a spoon in his own cherry tart; Outside he hears the racket of a car. “Have you tried a pillow?” he asks quietly. “You’ve got to get some purchase on that slope. A pillow can facilitate your mount.” Scott stares at his wine glass. “I never know Whether I’m in or not,” he says. “When I ask, she gets disgusted. Cries.” At this Ernest almost upsets his wine. He can’t abide a woman’s tears—he can’t! They’ve tried their tricks on him and found He’s what a man should be: a stone. They’ve tried the “too small” line before; And sure, he’d spent some sleepless night Reviewing his performance in the sack; But if a woman can’t be satisfied, He wasn’t going to take that on himself. “What if she’s right? What if I’m just too small? Scott’s question broke through his friend’s reverie, Who then slammed his hand down on the table: “Let’s check it out! Let’s go to le water.” Scott suddenly looked blank. “Well, I don’t know,” He said. “I mean, they do that in Pigalle—” “For Christ’s sake, Scottie, I don’t want your balls! You asked for my ‘absolute honesty.’ Let’s get some sort of assessment in hand. So to speak.” “So to speak,” Scottie sighed. “Michaud!” Now Hemingway was all business. “Michaud, come help us out? And bring Pierre.” Scott looked alarmed. “Ernie, old man—old sport—” But Hemingway brushed all dissent aside. “Don’t ‘old sport’ me! Save it for your prose. Come on, we’ll have a good old show-and-tell— You show, the rest of us will tell.” But Scott Held firm, and only he and Hemingway Repaired to le water, the dank men’s room, Where Scott undid his belt and dropped his trou. Now Hemingway’s a bit unclear about What happens next: we’re given to believe He checks Scott out, and then they reappear, Attabler, with their cherry tarts and wine. But old Michaud fills in the blanks for us. One of his waiters, Francois, had the runs That day, and so was seated in a stall Reading Le Monde when Scott pulled down his pants Francois’ account is somewhat vague because He had to stare through a narrow crack; But evidently Hemingway squatted, Then got down on all fours so he could find The... Continue reading
Posted Feb 19, 2021 at The Best American Poetry
In a rare interview with the gun-shy Ms. Marloff, I got her to open up about the current situation in poetry last Friday. First (she said) let me say a few words about poor Adrienne Rich. We would be poorer without her efforts through lug und trug, thin and thick und so weiter. What about Rimbaud [pictured left], I asked? The coloration of the vowels in the sonnet "Voyelles" demonstrates the impossibility of determining the identity of language's molecular components. How come more people don't read the poets you champion? OK in the face of the scandalous book awards and the continual neglect of what is truly cutting edge in poetry, let me just say this: If all metaphor is linguistic, and post-modernism a coded name for neo-romanticism, then what about the meta of metaphsysics, let alone world peace, for those who pass the R Test? And what is this quasi (modo) feeling I keep getting? If you were to appoint a journey of your fears, who would make the cut? I would nominate the following: Mike Ehrmantrout Arlene C. Bass Newt Minnow Sasha Torian Joanne Ashberger Frederick Sydorder Cate Flounder Salpietro Quennell Reynaldo Artest Barbara Erster Paul Orsulak Desiree Flashbacca They honor the poetics and politics of "Ray-gun" indeterminacy, Clintonian diplomacy ("I didn't swallow," he said straight-faced with a half-empty glass of Dewar's in his fist) and, in a satirical vein, the good-natured if unfortunately inept efforts of John ("You've Got a Friend") Kerry trying to broker the peace, or threaten the tyrants, or whatever. -- W. C. from the archive; March 14, 2015. Continue reading
Posted Jan 5, 2021 at The Best American Poetry
Again thanks to Stacey Harwood for this opportunity to air my stray thoughts. . . I am a reader of poetry, get BAP annually, but write very little. . .mainly prose poems like the ones I read by french poets like char or reverdy though not in their league of course. . .I am an American, Chicago-born, in that line everyone quotes from Saul Bellow, a very smart fellow. . "everyone" in that sentence being a case not of rhetorical dishonesty but acceptable bullying. . . "I" am bullshit but so are "you" and "we" and "they" -- you have a soft spot for Chicago, especially Wrigley Field. . we like our Calvin Klean jines. . .they say that the quickest way to a man's heart is through his stomach and behind him stands a succcessful woman. . .Bullshit. .Today my mind is on bullshit. . .also the Ukraine and Outin. . .Outin being a niice typo for Putin. . .who played a weak hand well (Syria) and a strong hand even better (Ukraine). . .at least he no take off his shirt yesterday. . .maybe he and BO should arm-wrestle for the Crimea. . .but you really want me to write about the movement to ban cursive in schools. . . which is a foolish decision . . as Yeats once wrote . . "but one man loved the pilgrim soul in you" . .I read the newspaper and I think "bullshit". . .I watch the news and I think "bullshit". . . it's bullshit even the word "bullshit" is bullshit even people who say they have great "bullshit detectors" are bullshit. . .or they are bullshit artists. . .a bullshit artist is either a fake artist or an artist who specializes in bullshit. . .there are great bullshit artists and lesser ones. . .the last of the great bullshit artists was either Derrida, Susan Sontag, or Andy Warhol. . let me take a minute to salute the American tax system, which can beat a computer at chess. . .please illustrate this piece with a picture that is either irrelevant, insulting, or fattening.. .that's what happens when c'est la vie meets c'est la guerre . . .bullshit. A fart in your sleep. You know who the hell you are. -- Walter Carey Continue reading
Posted Mar 1, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
The Republicans are like a drowning man who pulls down his rescuer thinking he's pulling him to safety and the Dems are like the girl on the shore who pulls down her boy-cut hipsters when no one's watching -- Walter Carey Continue reading
Posted Feb 23, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
My thanks to Stacey Harwood and David Lehman for inviting me to blog my thoughts from time to time. . . . . I am proudly contrarian. You tell me the conventional wisdom and I will instinctively take the opposite position. . .For example I believe that a good cover story is "Can Men Have it All?". . and the next time I hear the words "double standard" I am going to say "how come elite schools like Wellesley and Bryn Mawr can stay single sex?". . .The new SI swimsuit issue is on the stands, fans. . .I love porn... In a New York elevator the other day I heard a woman, in her young 20s, say to a slightly older woman "Thanks for femsplaining that" and then both of them laughed as if I wasn't there . .I spent an hour trying to rhyme that line and came up with "Do these jeans make my ass look fat?" . . .If you were the NY Review of Books and your cover announces an essay on "The New Populism," would you illustrate it with (1) a caricature of a bespectacled Harvard professor who became a US Senator from Massachusetts, or (2) a young black man in a hoodie, or (3) a couple of guys pulling on a beer at a truck stop, or (4) Taylor Swift? . . .I believe that a true intellectual prefers John Ford to Jean-Luc Godard . . . A fake intellectual attacks Woody Allen for not making movies about black people. . .I like the line in a movie where a pompous executive apologizes to the employeees he is firing and asks them what else he can do and somebody answers, "You can die". . . I don't remember which movie. . . Maybe some reader will know . .Fuck the Olympics. -- Walter Carey Continue reading
Posted Feb 22, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
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Mar 18, 2013