Menu
9780811216678 198

The Way It Wasn't

From the Files of James Laughlin

Paperback

James Laughlin (Author), Barbara Epler (Editor), Daniel Javitch (Editor)

Our Retail Price:£18.99

Add to Basket

Description

Lavishly illustrated, The Way It Wasn't offers an intimate firsthand encounter with 20th-century Modernism, from the extraordinary man who defined it for America.

James Laughlin—poet, ladies' man, heir to a steel fortune, and the founder of New Directions—was still at work on his autobiography when he died at 83. He left behind personal files crammed with memories and memorabilia: in "M" he is taking Marianne Moore to Yankee games (outings captured here in charming snapshots) to discuss "arcane mammals," and in "N" nearly plunging off a mountain, hunting butterflies with Nabokov ("Volya was a doll in a very severe upper-crust Russian way").

With an accent on humor, The Way It Wasn't is a scrapbook loaded with ephemera—letters and memories, clippings and photographs. This richly illustrated album glitters like a magpie's nest, if a magpie could have known Tennessee Williams, W.C. Williams, Merton, Miller, Stein, and Pound. In "C": "I wish that nice Jean Cocteau were still around. He took me to lunch at the Grand Véfours in the Palais-Royal and explained all about flying saucers. He understood mechanical things. He would advise me." In "P": "There was not much 'gracious living' in Pittsburgh, where at one house, the butler passed chewing gum on a silver salver after coffee." And: "The world is full of a large number of irritating people." In "H" there's Lillian Hellman: "What a raspy character. When I knocked at her door to try to borrow one of her books (hoping to butter her up) she only opened her door four inches and said words to the effect: 'Fuck off, you rapist.'" Marketing in "M": "I think it's important to get the 'troubadours' into the title. That's a 'buy-me' word." In "G": "Olga asked Allen Ginsberg if he was also buying Pound Conference T-shirts for his grandchildren. She was most lovable throughout." In "L": "Wyndham Lewis wrote 'Why don't you stop New Directions, your books are crap.'" And we find love in "L": "Cicero noted that an old love pinches like a crab." But in The Way It Wasn't James Laughlin's love of the crazy world and his crazier authors does not pinch a bit: it glows with wit and enlarges our feeling for the late great twentieth century.

Reviews

“Laughlin was more than the greatest American publisher of the twentieth century: His press was the twentieth century.” — Eliot Weinberger, The Nation

“I urge you to read this unforgettable parade of portraits … which changed my life and those of my peers.” — Irving Malin, The Hollins Critic

“A selection of glittering fragments punctuated by superb illustrations.” — George Core, Sewanee Review

Also By: James Laughlin View all by author...

  • 9780393246209 72

    The Luck of Friendship: The Letters of Tennessee Williams and James Laughlin

    James Laughlin, Tennessee Williams, Peggy Fox, Thomas Keith

    Hardcover, 2018

    Four decades of correspondence of Tennessee Williams’s and James Laughlin’s unlikely yet enduring literary and personal relationship.
  • 9780811218764 72

    The Collected Poems of James Laughlin

    James Laughlin, Peter Glassgold

    Hardcover, 2014

    Finally collected are all the poems of James Laughlin — a classic poet of Catullan sensibility hiding in plain sight as an avant-garde publisher and the “Godfather of Modernism”

  • 9780811218085 72

    Christmas Poems

    Albert M. Hayes, James Laughlin

    Paperback, 2008

    Awake the voice! Awake the string!
    Dark and dull night fly hence away,
    And give the honor of this day
    That sees December turned to May.
    —William Herrick

  • 9780393059502 72

    Guy Davenport and James Laughlin: Selected Letters

    Guy Davenport, James Laughlin, W. C. Bamberger

    Hardcover, 2007

    An epistolary exchange that highlights two singular intellects, their disparate approaches to literature and their mutual admiration.
  • 9780393038644 72

    Henry Miller and James Laughlin: Selected Letters

    James Laughlin, Henry Miller, George Wickes, George Wickes

    Hardcover, 1996

    A sparkling, lively record of a remarkable author/publisher relationship.

Also By: Daniel Javitch View all by author...

  • 9780393976069 72

    The Book of the Courtier

    Baldesar Castiglione, Daniel Javitch, Charles S. Singleton

    First Edition, Paperback, 2002

    The Book of the Courtier (1528) is a series of fictional conversations by courtiers of the Duke of Urbino that takes place in 1507, while Castiglione was himself attaché to the Duke.