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Joe Brainard: I Remember Paperback – February 15, 2001
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From Publishers Weekly
Out of print for a decade, these memoirs of the artist and writer who died of AIDS last year include a new afterword by Ron Padgett.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
A completely original book. -- Edmund White
Each detail seduces and reveals while remaining entirely true to the unsentimental demands of the form itself. -- San Francisco Bay Guardian, January 31, 2001 Noel Black
a masterpiece Joe Brainards modest little gem will endure. both uproariously funny and deeply moving. -- Paul Auster, 1995
he had happenend onto something wonderful Joes originality came from the fresh way he looked at things. -- Ron Padgett
universal appeal. He catalogues fashion and fads, public events and private fantasies, with such honesty and accuracy and in such abundance -- The Voice Literary Supplement, --Michael Lally
Top customer reviews
Most of the memories are only 10-20 words, but the longest reach a page (there are only two or three that long, I think.) Reading this is fun. They almost serve as writing prompts, or at least memory prompts, which get you thinking about what you remember too. It's also fun to track Brainard's stream-of-consciousness way of writing. Sometimes you can see how one memory relates to the next, and sometimes it requires quite a leap in logic to get there.
Brainard's images are crisp and clear and he often paints these pictures with very few words. And he hits so many notes. You laugh, you cry! By using "I remember..." before each one, Brainard inspires the reader to response. "Hey, I remember that too!" or "That reminds me of..." It makes reading this book an interactive experience.
This book, though not widely known, has been used repeatedly in schools and even in psychological lessons for students and clients alike to reach back into their memories and remember not only the simple things, but the complex as well. It ranges from what fresh cut grass smells like on a Sunday morning to personal experiences that Joe, as a young gay man, experienced finding himself in a world unkind to such life choices.
The book is powerful, moving, easy to read, has a sense of familiarity, and can speak across the generations.
I remember paper chains.
I remember Hunt the Thimble.
I remember watching TV (The Grove Family Christmas special?) through a shopfront window.
I remember carol singers being sent packing and told to come back nearer Christmas Eve. Of course they never did.
I remember, as an only child, being allowed to pull all the crackers.
I remember McDonald Hobley's face twitching lasciviously as he sang a duet with Sylvia Peters. Or can he have been acting?
I remember the Christmas editions of the comics (tnere must have been a dozen to choose from if you hunted around) and what an exquisite sense of anticipation they radiated, for pennies. Not that pennies abounded.
Joe died, I remember
It's a game anyone can play, but it's Joe's game (though I'll allow his acolyte Georges Perec a little of the limelight) and it's Joe being Joe that makes it, but it does not represent all of him by any means any more than the limp Not Waving but Drowning sums up the sheer feistiness of Stevie Smith - and I'm not sure what Paul Auster brings to the mix; his qualified pronouncement that I Remember is one of the twenty best something-or-others is frankly risible unless he names the other nineteen - of which I'm sure one at least would be by him! Joe's *unique*, Paul, a one-off - think William Blake rather than a jobbing writer. This would make a nonpareil stocking filler, but your more discerning friends deserve Bean Spasms, newly reissued in facsimile, without the egregious, and superfluous, Auster. Twenty best?? Such magisterial vagueness, such dizzying condescension