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Digressions on Some Poems by Frank O'Hara: A Memoir Paperback – April 21, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
LeSueur shared four New York apartments (and dozens of famous friends) with the poet Frank O'Hara during the last 10 years of the poet's life. Because O'Hara moved in the now-legendary New York art world of the 1950s, and because his poems constantly bring up friends, acquaintances, lovers and social events, O'Hara's readers usually welcome knowledge of his life and times. Admirers, disciples and critics of the charismatic and increasingly influential O'Hara (1925-1965) will thus line up to read this informative and surprisingly readable memoir from the screenwriter and editor LeSueur, who completed the volume just before his own death in 2001. LeSueur's memoir offers plenty of firsthand knowledge-both facts and anecdotes-nobody else has put in print; it does so, moreover, in an entertaining format, organized (after an autobiographical preface) in 40 short (three to 10 pages) bursts of storytelling, each pegged to a particular O'Hara poem or part thereof. This unusual format arranges LeSueur's copious anecdotes into assimilable chunks, and links facts about the life to the poems they best explain. Readers can learn, among many other tidbits, when (and why) O'Hara stopped "making out with strangers," how he came to write his famed Billie Holiday elegy and how he rescued a drowning boy off Fire Island. LeSueur tells memorable stories not just about O'Hara, but about almost all the eminent poets, composers and painters of '50s New York-Ashbery, Auden, Koch, Schuyler; Rauschenberg, Johns, Kline; Morton Feldman ("Morty") and Gian Carlo Menotti-whose lives intersected with his own. Sometimes chatty, sometimes incisive and sometimes not so sweet, this book should supplant Brad Gooch's O'Hara bio City Poet (widely seen as a clip job) as info-hungry readers' first stop.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
The life and mostly wild times of a great American poet, from the man who lived with him from 1955 to 1965.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
DIGRESSIONS is actually helpful, too. Because O'Hara often adopted a casual, off-hand, personal approach when writing his poems, it is great to have someone who was intimate with the poet to explain "who's who" and "what's what." LeSueur, however, is equally comfortable admitting when he's baffled by an O'Hara reference, and explanations (and reminiscences) are never forced.
One other thing--DIGRESSIONS is an enlightening portrait of gay life in New York prior to the Stonewall riots. O'Hara and LeSueur were both openly gay, though they had quite different approaches to meeting their sexual needs. O'Hara seems to have had fewer partners, usually choosing them from his circle of friends and aquaintances. LeSueur seemed to favor one-night stands and casual sex. Perhaps this difference is one reason their friendship continued long after their sexual intimacy ended. If only LeSueur had lived long enough to write DIGRESSIONS ON GAY LIFE BEFORE STONEWALL.