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I Rememberby Joe Brainard
Both this book and I Remember by Shane Allison use the deceptively simple "I remember" repetition to build the details of these authors' lives — Brainard, a gay man growing up in Oklahoma in the '50s, and Allison, a gay black man growing up in Florida in the '80s. There are so many moments that will be familiar to a reader's own memory and so many that will be revelations. Both books are sweet, funny, deeply human, and sometimes shocking inspirations.
I remember the first time I read this funny, amazing book. I remember thinking: What is this? Is it poetry? Is it prose? Is there going to be a plot? Is the entire book going to be statements that begin with the same two words? I remember, a couple of pages later, not caring about my questions anymore. I remember turning the final page, and then immediately starting over because I couldn't bear for it to end. I remember buying every copy I came across, so I could hand it out to friends and still make sure I had one left for me.
Synopses & Reviews
Joe Brainard's I Remember is a literary and artistic cult classic, praised and admired by writers from Paul Auster to John Ashery and Edmund White. As autobiography, Brainard's method was brilliantly simple: to set down specific memories as they rose to the surface of his consciousness, each prefaced by the refrain I remember: I remember when I thought that if you did anything bad, policemen would put you in jail. Brainard's enduring gem of a book has been issued in various forms over the past thirty years. In 1970, Angel Hair books published the first edition of I Remember, which quickly sold out; he wrote two subsequent volumes for Angel Hair, More I Remember (1972) and More I Remember More (1973), both of which proved as popular as the original. In 1973, the Museum of Modern Art in New York published Brainard's I Remember Christmas, a new text for which he also contributed a cover design and four drawings. Excerpts from the Angel Hair editions appeared in Interview, Gay Sunshine, The World and the New York Herald. Then in 1975, Full Court Press issued a revised version collecting all three of the Angel Hair volumes and added new material, using the original title I Remember. This complete edition is prefaced by poet and translator Ron Padgett.
"I Remember is both uproariously funny and deeply moving. It is also one of the few totally original books I have ever read" Paul Auster
"Joe Brainard's memories of growing up in the '40s and '50s have universal appeal. He catalogues his past in terms of fashions and fads, public events and private fantasies, with such honesty and accuracy and in such abundance that, sooner or later, his history coincides with ours and we are hooked." The Village Voice
Artwork by Joe Brainard. Edited by Ron Padgett.
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