Promise. This is not another blog about a poet or about poetry. It’s a blog about one thing leading to another.
I will admit, however, that it was indeed a poem – the stunning “When Grace at the Bliss Cafe Calls,” by Jane Vandenburgh – in the January 11 issue of the New Yorker magazine that prompted this latest wild Google chase.
A fifth generation Californian, Vandenburgh is in her late 60s and writes a column for the Huffington Post. She’s also written two novels, the nonfiction book, “Architecture of the Novel,” and two memoirs, including, “The Pocket History of Sex in the Twentieth Century.”
One reviewer compared the latter book to David Egger’s memoir, “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius,” which I want to read. (Both Eggers and Vandenburgh survived tumultuous childhoods.)
Her June, 2015, remembrance of the late novelist James Salter mentions Salter’s love for Isaac Babel and his “elision and economy, the comedic shock with which the mundane is ripped apart by violence.”
Isaac Babel? Huh? Born in Russia in 1894, he’s considered the “best prose writer of Russian Jewry.” In 1940 at age 46, he was shot to death for being a Trotskyist terrorist and foreign spy.
Now Babel and Eggers are on my list, along with the first collection of poetry Jane Vandenburgh ever publishes