That I love William Carlos Williams? I realized today that I hadn't ACTUALLY read any poems by him (though I thought I had...WRONG. Just Wheelbarrow. Can you believe that?!?!?). Anyway, because of time and whatnot, i'm only reading the small lil book edited by Pinsky. And I'm only up to some of the poems roughly around 1918, but i'm sold. Sign me up. Get me a t-shirt. Got the collected poems coming in the mail for some magical time when I have time to read more (along with Hughes, who I also feel deserves so much more time than I gave him). Honestly, I thought Wallace Stevens was a bit of a drag, so I was prepared for WCW to be draggish as well (guilty by national association). Well, that was wrong. Reading his poems makes me want to throw myself on a lawn and roll around in some daisies. And then get in a car and drive past people and make wonderful observations.
Also, read "The Man Who Lived Underground"--a short story by Richard Wright that in many ways functions as a kind of Ur-Text for Invisible Man. It's Great!!! Greg, you might be interested. It's only 60 pages or so and its trippy and out of this world and good, if you're still on the short fiction tip. It's in a book called "Eight Men".
And, finally, to wrap up this whirlwind, just finished The Color Purple. Which I always forget that i like a lot. I remember being really biased when I read it the first time as an undergraduate in a women's southern fiction class. (Where we also read Gone With the Wind and a bunch of O'Connor and Katherine Anne Porter (who by the way, needs to make her way back into the cannon). Anyway, I was prepared to write it off as sentimental, too full of feeling and womany stuff. WRONG. Perhaps its a woman in English dept. thing, but as an undergrad, i felt tremendous pressure that if I wanted to be a serious academic I had to be in the Harold Bloom camp of closed-mindedness. Alice Walker helped snap me out of that. Could Color Purple be...gasp...better than Beloved? It just might. In that way that Vonnegut just might be better than Faulkner sometimes. Who knows.
anyways, the color purple is grabbing every time. The way it is intentionally re-writing so many parts of canonical fiction. I also read Slaughterhouse Five recently and am finding all kinds of strange connections. Both Walker and Vonnegut in these books have interesting ideas on how shame and ethics work together. It's all tied up with personal responsibility, what it means to be a 'good person' in a fucked up world, how there can be room for aesthetics even if we are in an anti-aesthetic moment/era. And both need a touch (or more) of humor to make this all work out right.
Jumbled post, I know. Jumbled brain.