THE DEATH OF PICASSO: New & Selected Writing

Guy Davenport, Author . Shoemaker & Hoard $26 (400p) ISBN 978-1-59376-002-1

Davenport (Da Vinci's Bicycle), author, poet, critic and artist, has gathered 27 essays and stories (some never before published in book form) that span his career, and this collection shows him to be, above all, a masterful stylist. Like Ezra Pound and the Imagists, he uses precise, rhythmic and visual language. His writing is akin to a drawing or haiku, carefully composed and firmly structured, but the language is steeped in intertextuality. Historical, literary and classical allusions abound; in a single paragraph of the title piece, Davenport refers to Goya, Freud, Marcel Jousse, Daumier, van Gogh, Molière, Alfred Jarry, Ionesco, Klee and Mozart, among others. His essays range from the history of birds in English and American literature ("Every Force Evolves a Form") to an anthropology of table manners, while his short stories tend to focus on historical figures, usually artists or philosophers, often with homoerotic or otherwise sexually charged undertones. Nearly all of his short stories and essays employ discrete paragraphs, either titled or numbered, forcing the reader to slow down and examine each sentence as if it were a poem unto itself. Davenport might fairly be compared to Donald Barthelme, another American author who fuses the high modernist tradition with postmodern collage. The author's fragmented, prismatic, allusive style and overpowering erudition shine through in this collection and that ought to please his fans, but the average reader is well advised to keep a set of encyclopedias on hand in order to digest this volume. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 06/16/2003
Release date: 08/01/2003
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 375 pages - 978-1-5040-1961-3
Paperback - 384 pages - 978-1-59376-056-4
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