Friends in the World: The Education of a Writer

Aram Saroyan, Author Coffee House Press $11.95 (148p) ISBN 978-0-918273-97-0
This brief, affectionate memoir by the son of William Saroyan reads less like a narrative than a collection of essays. The author focuses on the 1960s, which for him was a decade of artistic and personal development rather than political passion. Estranged from his famous father, the teenage Saroyan drank in Manhattan and entered ? entered just seems too formal/stalwart seems too strong/steted entered/pk the city's poetry scene. At 21, he founded a literary magazine and met personages like the poet Ted Berrigan, whose romantic lifestyle encouraged his young friend. The book meanders through Saroyan's marriage and his moves to Woodstock, Massachusetts and California, then flashes back to describe people such as the poet Andrew Wylie, who founded Telegraph Books and agented Last Rites , Saroyan's memoir of his father. Though Saroyan can turn a phrase, the story becomes diffuse, especially when he habitually notes every place he and his wife found lodginglodging' in previous review .``ever stayed in'' is particularly inelegant/i've steted/pk However, Saroyan includes some effective digressions: musings on giving up marijuana; a spirited defense of his one-word poem, sp ok/pk ``lighght,'' which became a key exhibit since conservatives tried to use poem as a weapon against him, which is unclear as is in the conservative assault on government arts funding; and reflections on writing Last Rites , when his life and journal ``brought me to an entirely unexpected moment of healing with my father.'' Photos. (May)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1992
Release date: 01/01/1992
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