Synopses & Reviews
An artist associated with the New York School of poets, Joe Brainard (1942-1994) was a wonderful writer whose one-of-a-kind autobiographical work I Remember ("a completely original book" -Edmund White) has had a wide and growing influence. It is joined in this major new retrospective with many other pieces that for the first time present the full range of Brainard's writing in all its deadpan wit, madcap inventiveness, self-revealing frankness, and generosity of spirit. The Collected Writings of Joe Brainard gathers intimate journals, jottings, stories, one-liners, comic strips, mini-essays, and short plays, many of them available until now only as expensive rarities, if at all. "Brainard disarms us with the seemingly tossed- off, spontaneous nature of his writing and his stubborn refusal to accede to the pieties of self-importance," writes Paul Auster in the introduction to this collection. "These little works . . . are not really about anything so much as what it means to be young, that hopeful, anarchic time when all horizons are open to us and the future appears to be without limits." Assembled by the author's longtime friend and biographer Ron Padgett and including fourteen previously unpublished works, here is a fresh and affordable way to rediscover a unique American artist.
"Uncommonly versatile and uncommonly funny, Brainard (1942 1994) might be best-known for I Remember (1968 1975), a disarming, beautiful, experimental memoir made from hundreds of largely unconnected sentences, each one beginning the same way: 'I remember the sound of the ice cream man coming./ I remember once losing my nickel in the grass before he made it to my house./ I remember that life was just as serious then as it is now.' Brainard was more prolific, and at least as influential, in visual art, which he usually saw as his primary work, including book covers, oil paintings, postmodern cartoons and comic strips, and collaborations on artists' books. Along with the last, longest version of I Remember, this volume gathers ample diaries from the 1960s and 1970s, composed in New York City, Vermont, and Bolinas, Calif.; two interviews; selected sketches, cartoons and hand-written pieces; and short aphoristic, or mock-aphoristic, verse and prose. Brainard is usually grouped with the second generation of New York School writers: some readers will seek, and find, gossip about them here, while others will take to the quirky and moving one-liners: 'I don't have an inferiority complex or anything like that, but for some reason I'm always trying to prove myself'; 'The only thing that ever bothered me about being queer was that I thought maybe people wouldn't like me if I knew.'" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“ Beautifully designed, Collected Writings
reproduces the improvised, homemade feel of Brainards 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
About the Author
RON PADGETT, editor, is the author of many books of poetry including How To Be Perfect, You Never Know, The Big Something, and Great Balls of Fire, as well as Joe: A Memoir of Joe Brainard.