May 10th, 2007

  • pgdf

Sixties Novels, Part 12

TRAVEL NOTES, Stanley Crawford, Simon & Schuster, 1967

Apparently still with us, Crawford

wrote several Sixties Novels before finding another outlet for his prose, which we'll investigate below.

His most famous, still in print, appears to be GASCOYNE:

But I'm not sure GASCOYNE could top TRAVEL NOTES, which I will definitely be reading some day, based on its jacket copy [eliipsis sic]:

"A white elephant called Unable, with untranslatable obscenities tattooed on its underbelly, tows a large golden coach from city to city; the toilet in the famous Lake Grand Hotel crumbles under a constipated traveler; a cabinet minister is assassinated by a cherry pie; huge hairy fruits fall like rain from a tropical TRAVEL NOTES the fantasies of an ordinary man play themselves out among the exotic cities of his private dreamland. Yet the traveler is always aware of the fragile structure of his fancy, and fears and disappointments shadow his dreams: his planes never leave the ground; the room he arrives at again and again is his own bedroom; and the Painted Woman who taunts and pursues him is the wife he loves yet longs to be rid of."

Sounds like a modern-day JURGEN to me.

One of the major trends of the Sixties was the "back to the land" movement:

Crawford seems to have exemplified this, staking out his own small territory in New Mexico and later writing popular non-fiction about it.

Looks like the Traveler finally settled down.
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Small Beer, Big Time

Rather than cross-post an entire press release, may I direct your attention to the wayward and winsome blog of Messr. John Crowley:

There you will learn of a free May 17th wingding at the Global HQ of Small Beer Press, honoring books by Crowley, Hand and others.

And you will also get a chance to read various Crowleyan musings.

Go! How can you lose?


                     After Ildiko
                     by Lucius Shepard

    Pederson, an idler, a self-deceiver, an American fool of no consequence, on vacation from a life of petty crime and monumental indecision, fell in with Ildiko on the Caribbean coast of Guatemala, and together they traveled by barge up the Rio Dulce toward the oil fields at Lake Izabal.  Ildiko was Swiss, a mousy woman in her early thirties, a few years older than Pederson, pale and slight, with boyishly cut brown hair and a thin face that generally displayed a withdrawn look, but on occasion embodied a surprising sweetness.  She had spent the previous fourteen months hiking through the jungles of Central America, accompanied only by Indian guides.  Prior to that, she told Pederson, she had worked for relief organizations in Central Africa.
    That was all he knew about her after a month of intimacy.  It was not even clear to him why they had hooked up.  There had been some talk, a hint of flirtation, but nothing conclusive, at least not to his mind, and she had slipped into his hotel room one night, offering herself with a casual, rather maternal tenderness, as if sex were no more significant an act than helping him on with his coat.  Her air of vulnerability, at such apparent odds with her history of self-reliance, intrigued him; yet he found her only marginally attractive.  Perhaps because he had been the pursued in this instance, he tended to think of her with proprietary disdain, viewing her as an interim solution to the problem of female companionship.  She was damaged goods, he thought.  Some old trouble lurked beneath her diffident exterior.  Yet despite all of this, their relationship had deepened in ways that left him uneasy and confused by unaccustomed bursts of affection and tenderness. 
    The captain of the barge, Joseph Rawley, was a gruff, stocky, sun-darkened man of sixty or thereabouts, with thinning iron-gray hair and a seamed face that might once have been handsome and a tattoo celebrating his naval service in the Gulf of Tonkin.  Under different circumstances Pederson might have enjoyed his company.  With his colorful stories of expatriate life, he was just the sort of character whom Pederson relied upon to lend his experiences a Heart-of-Darkness credential when telling his own stories back in New York City; but from the outset it was apparent that Rawley was taken with Ildiko and had no use whatsoever for him.  Pederson understood that by contrast to the flashier tourist women to be found along the coast, Ildiko would seem accessible to an older man and, in context of this, Rawley’s distaste for him was predictable.  Yet his contempt was so pointed, it caused Pederson to revert to a city paranoia, to think that his history of middleman drug scams and yuppie duplicity was an open book to Rawley, and that this horny old swabbie was gazing down at him from some moral Himalaya, taking note of his every perversity and failure.
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