My books—Monsieur Ambivalence (2013) and The Classical World (2018)—are high-rises, skyscrapers which contain upper floor office space, residential units, and ground floor retail. There’s no doorman or elevator. As buildings, they’re side by side, MA being slightly taller than TCW, and the initials of each title are emblazoned on the very top floor—MA and TCW—so they can be seen from miles away but if, and only if, someone is really looking. As each book is essentially a book of philosophy, a philosophical narration, there’s no Directory in the lobby as is customary in most high-rises: whoever enters the building is free to wander around as he or she pleases.
Those who do enter either one or both of the high-rises I’ve constructed say they’ve never seen another person inside, that they feel they have the place all to themselves. As a writer who doesn’t seek public attention I take this as a compliment.
Both MA and TCW are books meant to be read slowly, no more than five pages at a time and no less than two: this was the instruction ‘given’ to the writer as he was writing each book. Each book has black-and-white pictures meant to provide amplifying context to the text, but in artfully subtle manner so that no direct connection between word and picture can be detected: in other words, were you to only look at the pictures you would not fully understand the story as you would were you to only read the words.
Both books are the best I could make at the time and, when I enter each one of them now, I’m mostly pleased. Each has a strong conceptual foundation which should weather both the passages of time and of literary fashion, and upon re-reading each I have the confidence, perhaps misguided just enough to be delusional, that each book will be entered into by new readers interested in both the past and the future.
The book I’m writing now, my next book, which I’ve provisionally titled The Autobiography of Poetry, is a retro-skyscraper: that is, it is a much smaller structure, made of bricks and high-grade steel manufactured in the USA, but with all the philosophical dynamics of both MA and TCW.
The Autobiography of Poetry is intended to be a quicker, one might say more approachable, read than its predecessors, unpacking the sacred and often pretentious precincts of both The Poet and Poetry in a lighthearted, aphoristic frolic of pure words (no pictures). It’s conceivable that TAOP could be read in one sitting. At least this is the dream of its Author!