Got a letter yesterday from Don Emblen. He offered to produce a chapbook for me on the letterpress in his garage so a few months back I sent him a manuscript. “Sorry about the delay in getting to your sampler. Don’t be dismayed, just be patient. At least that’s the advice I give myself … I’ve been working for a year now on a Collected Works volume, going through all extant poems I’ve written and am appalled by the masses of manuscripts going back to the early 1940’s.”
Don includes a copy of his The Reader’s Rejoinder a monthly response to books. How Dare I Read! Looks like it’s as much a response to correspondents, quoting from letters sent to him from Cotati, Carmel, Santa Rosa, and Eagle Creek in Oregon.
Don gives the thumbs down to The Last Days of Pompeii, a 19th Century novel by “Sir Edward George Earl Lytton Bulwer Lytton”. Don was “sufficiently seduced by [the] gorgeous reproductions of classic artwork to buy a used but still elegant edition … Just as the volcanic rain of fire and rock from Vesuvius destroyed Pompeii in 79 A.D., the egregious faults in Bulwer’s writing reduced his novel to a litter of worn, Byronic phrases.” Don says he’d heard it was bad. He can now pass on his agreement. Don was perplexed to read “an introductory essay by Edgar Johnson, a respected literary scholar,” in which Johnson acknowledges the novel’s many flaws but claims it “’triumphs over all its deficiencies.’” Deficiencies, yes; triumph, no.
Wasn’t a bad writing contest named after Bulwer Lytton?