Mary Karr: Dissing John Ashbery
In the NYT Sunday Book Review "By the Book," The writer Mary Karr tells all, when asked to identify the book she found most "Disappointing, overrated, just not good," or more directly:
What book do you feel you were supposed to like but didn't? Do you remember the last book you put down without finishing?Karr hesitated, but then spoke forthrightly, not about a book, but about a man, the poet John Ashbery:
I feel like a turd naming names, but the poet John Ashbery's reputation is inflated enough to take it. He's a smart guy with a genius ear for music. In my besotted youth, I wrote a 100-plus-page essay on "Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror," then later recanted. His poems are about (he admits this) zippo, and his seductive voice is the most poisonous influence in American poetry. You know those page-long pieces of his in The New Yorker you can't comprehend? Neither can anybody else. A brilliant, modest guy, immensely charming, but the most celebrated unclothed emperor in U.S. letters today - an invention of academic critics.That's no way to talk about friends! Ah, I see. Her "besotted" youth. She loved him. This sounds like unrequited love, the root of all evil!
Moreover, he looks a little taken aback in that photo . . .