Saturday, July 05, 2008

Tom Piccirlli - John Keats

Eddie Muller praises Tom Piccirilli's latest novel (and a few more besides). San Francisco Chronicle on Friday.

"You can tell that Tom Piccirilli cut his teeth writing horror fiction. He loves sensation and never shies away from it. His prose has the visceral punch of the best pulp writers of the past century. His move into crime fiction is welcome: The Cold Spot (Bantam; 320 pages; $6.99 paperback) is both funny and ferocious as it describes a young car jockey's desperate attempts to escape the brutal legacy of his criminal father. Piccirilli bangs it out like an old-school penny-a-worder, but his stories are worth their weight in gold. Also out now is the more somber but equally good The Fever Kill (Creeping Hemlock Press; 224 pages; $16.95 paperback). Later this month comes The Choir of Ill Children (Night Shade Books; 240 pages; $25), a gothic noir that mates Flannery O'Connor with Stephen King, an unnerving prospect indeed."


Excerpts from a fascinating article in the current New Yorker on the immortal Romantic poet John Keats

"Of all the piteous elements in Keats’s story, none is more distressing than the idea that he went to his grave convinced of his failure… by Adam Kirsch

"In July, 1820, John Keats published his third and final book, “Lamia, Isabella, The Eve of St. Agnes and Other Poems.” He had no reason to expect that it would be a success, with either the public or the critics: in his short career, the twenty-four-year-old poet had known nothing but rejection on both fronts. After his first book, “Poems,” appeared, in 1817, his publishers, the brothers Charles and James Ollier, refused to have anything more to do with him. In a letter to the poet’s brother George, they wrote, “We regret that your brother ever requested us to publish his book, or that our opinion of its talent should have led us to acquiesce in undertaking it.” They went on, “By far the greater number of persons who have purchased it from us have found fault with it in such plain terms, that we have in many cases offered to take the book back rather than be annoyed with the ridicule which has, time after time, been showered upon it.”


..."When Keats’s long poem “Endymion” came out, the following year, from a different firm, the ridicule was even worse, and far more public. The leading Tory magazines of the day published savagely satirical reviews, linking the poem’s undisciplined exuberance with its author’s working-class origins. Keats was the son of a stable-keeper, and he had trained as an apothecary: no wonder, the critics smirked, that he had fallen in with the sentimental “Cockney School” of poets, led by the radical journalist Leigh Hunt. Keats’s class and his liberal politics were enough to damn him sight unseen.."


"... by the summer of 1820 he knew that he would not live to publish another book. Tuberculosis was slowly choking him to death, leaving him without the will or the energy to work: he had written almost no poetry since late the preceding year, and would write no more before he died, in Rome, in February, 1821.. Keats continued to believe that, with time and study, he would have become a great poet, but he was starting to agree with the critics that nothing he had written could prove it. A year before his death, he wrote that he was reconciled to failure: “ ‘If I should die,’ said I to myself, ‘I have left no immortal work behind me—nothing to make my friends proud of my memory—but I have lov’d the principle of beauty in all things, and if I had had time I would have made myself remember’d.’ ”

He died at age 24.


pattinase (abbott) said...

A horrible disease, wasn't it? It made no distinctions for age.

Anonymous said...

I read Tom's The Choir of Ill Children and liked the Southern Gothic vibe, though he later emailed me that he isn't a Southerner. Great stuff from Tom.

Ed Lynskey