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Re: [delany-list] Name Check

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  • Ralph Dumain
    Clarence Major goes back a long way. I discovered his existence almost 40 years ago, but I can t remember what I ever read by him. I m pretty sure I haven t
    Message 1 of 3 , Jul 12, 2008
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      Clarence Major goes back a long way. I discovered his existence
      almost 40 years ago, but I can't remember what I ever read by him.
      I'm pretty sure I haven't read any of his novels, but now I'm
      starting to feel the itch. Tell us more about this novel.

      At 02:44 AM 7/13/2008, d_cozy wrote:

      >Reading Clarence Major's novel, Bone Structure, I came across this:
      >
      >The next day they make a movie from his novel and Cora stars in it.
      >Dale has the male lead. Cora and Dale are dirt farmers in the South.
      >They do everything but fuck. They steal chickens and read
      >science-fiction novels by brilliant writers like Chop Belany. The
      >white folks get angry and threaten to burn their house down and run
      >them into the woods. But Dale and Cora hold their own. They have a
      >stack of rocks behind the front door; they will fight till the end.
      >
      >(And why did no one ever tell me about Clarence Major? If Bone
      >Structure is representative of his work, he's a writer to be reckoned
      >with.)
    • d_cozy
      The first thing to note is that, in my previous post, I unintentionally truncated the title of Clarence Major s novel. It s actually called Reflex & Bone
      Message 2 of 3 , Jul 13, 2008
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        The first thing to note is that, in my previous post, I
        unintentionally truncated the title of Clarence Major's novel. It's
        actually called Reflex & Bone Structure. I read it in a Mercury House
        edition. That outfit describe themselves as: "a nonprofit publishing
        company devoted to the free exchange of ideas and guided by a
        dedication to literary values." Before the novel was released by
        Mercury House, in 1996, it was published in 1975 by Fiction Collective.

        I go into that little bit of publishing history because I think you
        will understand, reading it, that the novel is formally adventurous
        and not the sort of sociological fiction that mainstream publishers
        seem to like best, especially when they're talking about fiction by
        black authors.

        Here, lifted from the back cover, is what Charles Johnson says about
        it: "In such original novels as Reflex & Bone Structure [Clarence
        Major] pursues an aesthetically necessary option for black writing.
        No writer, to my knowledge, has pushed [the] wing of modernism to the
        structural limits achieved by Major, and what most of us seek—a place
        in the literature of the age—Major earned a long time ago."

        It amused me that this book was nominated in France for the Prix
        Maurice Edgar Coindreau for literary crime fiction, because in fact it
        is not, in any simplistic sense, crime fiction at all. Rather it is a
        high modernist portrait of a woman / a high modernist portrait of a
        female figment of an author's imagination, and the mystery lies in the
        the tension between the descriptions on either side of that slash
        mark. It is elliptical, fragmented and dense, but in the end ties
        together, and is, as one turns the pages, engrossing.

        From an article I found at:

        http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2838/is_2-3_37/ai_110531704

        "In 1978, for example, Major takes special care to indicate exactly
        where in the innovative fiction movement he belongs, and why. 'Just as
        Ishmael Reed and George Schuyler have more in common with writers such
        as William Burroughs and Kurt Vonnegut than with realistic black
        writers such as Ernest J. Gaines and James Baldwin,' he tells Doug
        Boiling, 'my own efforts should be looked at alongside the works of
        George Chambers, Jonathan Baumbach, and Russell Banks. To further
        illustrate the point: some other writers who fit the category are
        Ronald Sukenick, Steve Katz, Charles Wright, and Walter Abish.' Note
        the precision of his choices: not Barth, Pynchon, Hawkes, or Gass,
        whom many critics still fail to distinguish from the Sukenick-Katz
        group, but rather Chambers and Abish, two writers yet to be noticed by
        all but the most discerning scholars."

        Major appears to be a prolific author, though as I said, Reflex & Bone
        Structure, which I read yesterday, was my introduction to him. What
        do you know about him, Ralph?

        And to bring this post back to the the primary subject of the list,
        Major seems to me an author with whom Delany have wanted to engage,
        but as far as I know he never has, or at least not in print. Am I
        wrong about that?

        Best,

        David

        --- In delany-list@yahoogroups.com, Ralph Dumain <rdumain@...> wrote:
        >
        > Clarence Major goes back a long way. I discovered his existence
        > almost 40 years ago, but I can't remember what I ever read by him.
        > I'm pretty sure I haven't read any of his novels, but now I'm
        > starting to feel the itch. Tell us more about this novel.
        >
        > At 02:44 AM 7/13/2008, d_cozy wrote:
        >
        > >Reading Clarence Major's novel, Bone Structure, I came across this:
        > >
        > >The next day they make a movie from his novel and Cora stars in it.
        > >Dale has the male lead. Cora and Dale are dirt farmers in the South.
        > >They do everything but fuck. They steal chickens and read
        > >science-fiction novels by brilliant writers like Chop Belany. The
        > >white folks get angry and threaten to burn their house down and run
        > >them into the woods. But Dale and Cora hold their own. They have a
        > >stack of rocks behind the front door; they will fight till the end.
        > >
        > >(And why did no one ever tell me about Clarence Major? If Bone
        > >Structure is representative of his work, he's a writer to be reckoned
        > >with.)
        >
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