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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

PART "C" OF AN OPEN LETTER TO THE EDITOR OF "THE AMERICAN SCHOLAR" RE M. MCDONALD'S PIECE

order of publication is C-B-A..
RE:
If you feel, as I do, that the publication of such a piece calls for the ouster of its editor; contact "American Scholar" board members; drop editor Wilson a line rwilson@pbk.org

=C=Like the Yugoslavia controversy, its Handke-Yugo parallel is a cold battle field. The corpses are strewn all about grotesquely, occasionally there is still a hiss, from Handke, or from Kosovo, and the occasional righteous US super-moron will show up belatedly and bedraggled to scream "Milosevic lover!" Historians can discern, get a good outline of the sequence of events that made for the disintegration of the Yugoslav federation; passions can cool; also of the parallel literary political war that ensued with the publication of Handke's second book on the subject [the first being "Farewell to the Dream of the 9th Land" - that 9th land being the land of peace] "A Winter's Journey," and the two other installments "A Summer's Sequel" and "Imploringly in Tears",and the big Yugoslavia Play, "The Play about the Film about the War" where you can find the 13 blackbird takes that Handke has on the subject. However, if you, Mr. Wilson, as editor, who may even have penned the sub-title of Michael McDonald's APOLOGY , agree to a gross, tendentious distortion of this kind in a journal of alleged scholarly provenance, in the very header... you launch yourself and your mag into the instant realm of diatribe and falsification. You ought to resign forthwith. You can count on me to campaign, to lobby for your ouster. Failure of the most minimal standards of due diligence and editorial oversight characterize this piece; the cheapest of cheap shots and low blows instead of what might have been a thoughtful look. Sit down. Have a cigar!Michael McDonald signs as Counsel to the "American Interest" - based on this piece I would not have him advise me in a small claims case, or anything of anything having to do with any kind of public - that is general or literary - interest. He also signs as the author of a forthcoming literary biography of Curzio Malaparte; he is not only "counsel" but a reviewer for "The American Interest." These pieces of information allow me to assume, perhaps, probably - knowing how low my assumption batting average is running - incorrectly, that Mr. McDonald is acquainted with what are called "findings" in law, the elementary matters of "discovery", and certain elementary conventions of naming within the realm of literary discourse; even a polemic needs to be halfway well founded and not just rely on the provenance that will provide it with the cover of the semblance of legitimacy; that is, the evaluation of facts, how to make a fairly objective generalization; that is, that he does not subscribe to the Bush presidency's version of reality as being of the kind that we make make it up as we bumble on as though we were still a frat boy on a drunken spree. Something that gave me instant cause for pause is McDonald calling both Grass and Handke the pre-eminent German postwar "stylists"... but let me pause before dealing with the matter of "stylist": The fact that McDonald appears aware of the impact if any of solely these two writers on the the so impervious United States, and leaves out Enzensberger, Peter Weiss, Boell, Frisch, Duerrenmatt, Uwe Johnson, Alexander Kluge, Thomas Bernhardt [though he mentions B. later on,] Heiner Mueller, Hochhut, and younger German, Austrian and Swiss who have become known... of course only in modest editions with small followings... well what can you ask for in a country inundated with junk... I recall traveling to Bulgaria, for the government, part of my mission being to help redress the difference of 7 Bulgarian writers and poets having been published in American between 1947 and 1980 whereas 4000 U.S. titles had appeared in translation in the then so despised [by the U.S media] Bulgaria, a country with "ten thousand years of Thracian" blood coursing through their veins, as they put it as their socialism was seeking out a differentiated one from their sterile socialism, that is a country with an age old poetic tradition. As to McDonald's even basic familiarity with the work of either Grass or Handke - as distinct from the undeniability that both are famous for being famous - but not a stylist, the meaning of the word "stylist" as that is used in a halfway accurate manner in literary discourse. Who might be described as a "stylist" in contemporary German literature? Botho Straus, perhaps. Most certainly the famous esthete Ernst Juenger. In American literature: Paul and Jane Bowles come to mind. There are a few off in the smaller magazines. Handke during his six phases cannot even be said to have developed what is generally called "a style" or a voice; however, his writing throughout features certain constants as he developed form being initially irritated to the point of being nauseated by the very materiality of words to someone who calls himself a "Wortklauber," an advance on "mot juste" since it means to love words as though they were the sparrows that feed from your hand; as he became, and perhaps is still becoming an ever ...a kind of to me painfully overly perfectionistic over-user of the conventions of German punctuation [but that is definitely very much the objection of someone who prefers to be nonchalant in this matter]... invariably accurate even when he needs to be as vague as possible, but even then: his vagueness is precise. Certainly M.Mcdonald tries to couch his sentences, thus his language is couché.There ought to be laws that condemn the failure to read; severe punishment for the crime of gross and intentional misrepresentation; punishment of the same severity as that which is visited on legal incompetence:disbarment ought to have as its equivalent in Shira law: King Abdul condemns McDonald to having both hands severed at the wrists; if he wishes to continue to write, let him do it with his toes, then we will have foutrés in each and every respect. As literary assassins go, McDonald is not up to the snuff of what Rupert Murdoch has in his down-under stable.Yes, where did you of a journal, with some legitimate pretensions of scholarship, find this primitivo, as I think of the antediluvian so prehistoric so crude antecedents of the so much refined feathered friends, the pelicanos who make life simple and just bomb themselves from a few feet into the river? His work is on the order of Der Stuermer. You know, Mr. Wilson, the story, the real story about that case of cases the often very great writer/ composer romantic most problematic character Peter Handke is so much more interesting than the platitude and cliches in which your crudité casts his bombs. If only you had a noggin with a tad of curiosity left in it! You don't know what you just missed! Sit down; have a shot of Jose Cuervo with that Cigar

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