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The Collected Writings of Joe Brainard Hardcover – March 29, 2012

4 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Bookforum

The Collected Writings makes its case—Brainard surely belongs in this canonical series, in no small part because he represents that peculiarly American aspiration to self-mythologize in the face of an otherwise relentlessly quotidian world. But this is done gently, with affection and a profound sense of commonality with his readers. Sounding playful, sometimes naive notes, Brainard nevertheless advances a serious cause. —Albert Mobilio

Review

“ Beautifully designed, Collected Writings reproduces the improvised, homemade feel of Brainard’s journal writings by including drawings and handwritten notes and memos and cartoons and flyers.”
—Mark Ford, The New York Review of Books
 
“ This is a really fun book, one that will win over old friends and new fans alike.”
—Patrick James Dunagan, Rain Taxi --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Library of America; First Printing edition (March 29, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1598531492
  • ISBN-13: 978-1598531497
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1.4 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,147,881 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
You get a generosity of content when you buy this edition of Joe Brainard's Collected Writings. It contains a three-page preface by the book's editor Ron Padgett and a ten-page Introduction by novelist Paul Auster. This is followed by over 500 pages of writings interspersed with the author's own drawings and cartoons. Rounding out the book are pages of helpful editorial content: a Chronology; a Note on the Texts; and a Glossary of Names. The names belong to fellow artists, writers, dancers, musicians, associates and collaborators mentioned by the shy-but-gregarious, serious-but-gossipy, solemn and humorous Joe Brainard.

The volume leads off with "I Remember," the autobiographical book Edmund White once labelled "a completely original book" and Paul Auster calls "a modest little gem." There is an undeniable charm and relentless spell to it. Baby Boomer readers especially will be nodding their heads non-stop in recognition:

"I remember putting on sun tan oil and having the sun go away."
"I remember red rubber coin purses that opened like a pair of lips, with a squeeze."
"I remember Christmas cards coming from people my parents forgot to send Christmas cards to."
"I remember wax paper."

I REMEMBER is in print as a pocket-size paperback: Joe Brainard: I Remember. Over the years its simple template has influenced thousands of American students in creative writing classes, jump-starting their imagination. Foreign writers too have followed its trail. One is Édouard Levé, whose
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The poetry of Joe Brainard changed my life. I became aware of his writing in other collections that included the other New York Poets. Joe Brainard approached the world with the wide open eyes of a child. He also saw how really funny, even silly, the world could seem to be sometimes especially when you attended to certain details in the right order of unimportance or insignificance. Having, at last, this collection of his work in one place pleases me beyond measure ! For those of you who enjoy the craft of those special poets who become expert in a loving irreverence for the world, this is writing you will cherish.
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Format: Hardcover
So I Remember is fated to be Joe's Not Waving But Drowning? It isn't all there is to Joe by a long chalk, and don't let nobody tell you different. It came out serially, unobtrusively, as just one strand in his quietly effervescent oeuvre, picture and text melded as never since Blake, but since the originals are no longer to be had you'll just have to settle for this. Warhol? Brainard? It's like Mae West versus - whoever you love

I could have done without Paul Auster, whose presence (eight 'I's in the first eight lines!) has prevented me buying this thus far. Brainard and Padgett are the real stars. What makes Brainard's brand of self-regard so different from Auster's? Could it be modesty?
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I feel as though I had a small important love affair with this book. For weeks I carried it with me everywhere, clutching it, telling everyone about it, reading aloud from it as if from a scripture. I imitated it, I copied down its moves, I argued with it. More than once I got annoyed. Sometimes, particularly toward the end, I wish it tried a little harder. I admit I feel a little like I had an affair with Joe Brainard himself -- a liberty for which I hope he would forgive me. I think he would. I loved this book. I wanted it to go on forever.

The first portion of the book, “I Remember”, has long been renowned. Brainard discovered that the phrase “I remember” was a magic key and since then memoirs (and creative writing classes) have never been the same. The other sections, gathered from Brainard’s notebooks, literary magazines and small press books are presented in such a way that it feels you are flipping through his notebooks -- a choice which seems to me correctly intimate, casual and inviting. (Really, it’s no wonder that I felt like I was having an affair. It’s designed that way, I swear.)

More often than not, Brainard writes from the present moment and he seeks to do so in as simple and open a way as possible. Reading this book, I asked myself repeatedly if such writing could ever be done now, if it could ever be recognized and embraced -- or if we are too stuck in the pride of fancying ourselves incomprehensible, complicated, difficult. Could writing like this ever find readers now? Would the self-proclaimed avant-garde stick ever up for it? (If so, I admit I have a stack of pages I’d like to show. . .
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Format: Hardcover
Joe Brainard (1942-1994) was born in Salem, Arkansas and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma. An artist, poet, and theater set designer he moved to New York City at age 19. There, he joined the community of New York School poets and painters who would later become his artistic collaborators, including Frank O'Hara, Ted Berrigan, John Ashbery, and Ron Padgett. One of Brainard's most frequent collaborators was his longtime partner, the writer Kenward Elmslie.

Brainard s honored here by the esteemed writer Paul Auster and his works form his life are arranged by his fellow poet Ron Padgett. This huge volume has nearly everything Brainard created - except for that ineffable joie de vivre that surrounded him. This book is important in that it does give us so much more than the two works for which he is most remembered - `I Remember' from 1975 and The Nancy Book 2008. Much of what fills the pages of this tome will not register with everyone - it takes a certain state of mind to be able to appreciate just how silly and simple he saw the world and share in some of those tongue in cheek moments never meant to be great art. But it is fun to pick and choose some of his `remembrances' such as the following:

I remember my first erections. I thought I had some terrible disease or something.
I remember the only time I ever saw my mother cry. I was eating apricot pie.
I remember when my father would say "Keep your hands out from under the covers" as he said goodnight. But he said it in a nice way.
I remember when I thought that if you did anything bad, policemen would put you in jail.
I remember when polio was the worst thing in the world.
I remember the first time I met Frank O'Hara. He was walking down Second Avenue.
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