[Jandek] Re: jandek Digest, Vol 54, Issue 173 (Niagra Blues)

Michael Mellor miquelotjr at yahoo.co.uk
Sat Sep 2 03:21:08 PDT 2006

Wow! Looking forward to reading this. I've been thinking about writing a (likewise) fictionalized account of "Corwood Industries" that would be a late night TV drama, sporadically watched by my own novel's protagonist, alongside the rest of the action. Something that would never appear in the listings, and few people would ever be able to tune in to...
  I guess the Corwood Rep's opus calls for a metanarrative doesn't it...? After all, whatever he may have intended in 1978, the albums have effectively become one man's dream journal for a quarter-century (and counting).
  Can't find Niagra Blues at Myspace just yet, but will check out Single Cell press.
  Good luck!

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Today's Topics:

1. Jandek Fictional Biography Forthcoming; Author to Read/Sign
in Toronto & Chicago (Danen D. Jobe)
From: "Danen D. Jobe" <djobe at uark.edu>
Subject: [Jandek] Jandek Fictional Biography Forthcoming;
Author to Read/Sign in Toronto & Chicago
Date: Fri, 01 Sep 2006 00:18:45 -0500
To: jandek at mylist.net


So I've sent out dozens of press releases and spent a solid year now working on this, and yet this is the email I've had the most difficulty composing. Really - started and stopped it six or seven times in the last three weeks. If you want the short of it, skip a paragraph or two. But for THIS list - people I genuinely care about and trust - I want to give an idea of what writing this has been like. So here goes:

As a few of you know, I've been working on a fictitious biography based on Jandek, written with Corwood's cooperation and approval. It uses the Jandek name, song titles, lyrics, album covers, music descriptions, etc though it in NO way is to be mistaken for the REAL story of Jandek. Rather, this is culled from - literally - HUNDREDS of hours of listening to the music, discussions with a few people involved with Corwood at one point or another, numerous back and forth letters to and from Houston, a chapbook publication that caused me to destroy (by fire, thank you) EVERYTHING and start over - this being exactly one week before my thesis reading at the University of Arkansas (which I've been writing this project for). Coming up with the RIGHT story, finally, for said reading and then spending the summer hammering out some 200 pages of sprawling story, followed by me asking Corwood if they thought it might be a good idea for me to read in Chicago and Toronto (they agreed), an
d me thinking, "you know, it might be nice to have something published," followed by the WONDERFUL folk at Single Cell Press (out of Glasgow - so fitting) agreeing to publish this first installment in what I see as a "Jandek trilogy," three weeks of editing, re-writing, re-thinking and ultimately agreeing on 63 pages of content, coming out this month on Single Cell Press, and which I will be reading from the day after the Toronto show and the day before the Chicago one. 

And now for more specific details: in Toronto I'll be at Circus Books and Music on Monday, September 18th at 6 PM. This is located at 253 Gerrard Street East (I'll give better directions and a phone number in a following email as I figure it out myself) and should be a blast. From there I get to make a maddash back over the border to read at Quimby's Books in Chicago (154 W Northern Street, Chicago - more info www.quimbys.com) at 7 PM Tuesday the 19TH at 7 PM. I can promise the best excerpts I can come up with from the book, which is closest to dark Southern Literature (it's what I write), tracing the future Corwood Rep's life from childhood to his garage band days, growing up in the Ozark Mountains admist much family turmoil (his mother and father leave him to care for his developmentally disabled brother at one point - his mother moving off to Kansas City and Dad going on a six-month bender). There are also other fictiionally recast real people here, most significantly one
Frank Stanford, whose poetry you can check at www.alsopreview.com. Stanford is the young narrator's shadow twin, so to speak, and also the person who gets said narrator to take his musical roots and do something with them. Frank happens to be married to Nancy, who ends up singing for the original garage band (and John, the drummer, lifts many of the instruments from "people who won't miss them). It includes sections of the narrator developing the guitar sound (which, by the way, I picked out myself on a 40's era black Gibson acoustic, picking at the strings over Charley Patton songs until it emulated what Jandek does on the early acoustic albums) and falling in love - not with Nancy, but with Frank's fiery sister Jessica. There's also "fictionalized' versions of Son House (he gets a great scene) and a poet/novelist named James Whitehead who's well worth checking out.

Okay, that's enough. If you want more I've got a few excerots up at the Myspace page I've created for this puppy: www.myspace.com/niagrablues. I'll keep updates going there. Also, please check my publisher's website at www.singlecellpress.co.uk, as this is where the book will be available (unless you buy it direct from me). While you're there, pick up a copy of Jackie Gilroy's slang-crazed "Thugs and Thieves." The writing style of our books couldn't be any more different and yet there's a communal spirit there. But seriously, Gilroy is the rightful heir to Bukowski, and I mean that lovingly. My book is probably closer to Carson McCullers' "Ballad of the Sad Cafe" or maybe a bit of Cormac McCarthy, but I've worked hard to have it be it's OWN thing first and foremost. Hope anyone who reads it feels the same.

Anyway, PLEASE contact me for more info. Now that I can relax (having finally written this) I can say that I hope at least some of you can attend these events - I intend for it to be a pretty wild tour: Jandek on Sunday, my reading on Monday, another reading on Tuesday, Jandek on Wednesday and then I sleep for a week. Somehow my employer at the University has decided this is a good "academic" thing and is supporting this, so I feel all "official." I don't know. Books will be dead cheap (I've got to move them - you knew that was coming, right?) but the readings are free. And hey, I intend to max out a credit card buying pitchers afterward. Seriously. Also, if anyone has floorspace in Toronto or Chicago let me know. This was going to be a family trip but looks like it's a solo thing now (a cost-efficient idea - got the wife and kids' support but this is gonna be a bit intense for young ones), so I find myself in need of floor space. I'll even bring my own pillow and free books
a'plenty. I also make a mean coffee.

Oh, and finally, there is a tour "pre-launch" radio show at 88.3 KXUA radio from the University of Arkansas next Wed night at 9 pm CST. Fear not, non Arkansans (which is what, all of you?) - it will be streamed on the net. I'll get details for that in the next few days, but PLEASE, if you happen to listen in, call and request. It's going to be a very loose show covering what I feel is his key moments mixed in with some of the Summersteps' tributes (including stuff off the new Corwood Variations handmade - I think the "Om" is a must) and a few "Corwood influences" like Blind Willie Johnson. This is going to be three hours long and something special indeed. I'll also read a few short passages from the book.

Whew! Okay, I've done it. Thanks for your patience (those who made it this far) and I hope a few of you can make the readings. I think you all know the great respect I have for this artist so please trust that I've put TREMENDOUS effort in making this as good a story as possible, staying true to the roots of Corwood Industries.I'm proud to say that I got the "thumbs up" from Corwood last week in a lovingly detailed letter that gave what may be the world's first lyric correction from the source: the opening passage from "Niagra Blues" should read: "Sometimes go to Niagra/sometimes go the grave/crazy 'bout your dreamer/crazy 'bout your dark night." And here, for thirteen years, I've thought the "uh" after dream was an inflection. Wow.

And again, any questions please send my way. As I said, more detailed maps and such as we get closer to reading dates. Books will be for sale until Single Cell Press is so tired of me they toss the rest in the ocean. Thanks again for listening, all!


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