1.The American was the first Henry James novel I read, and it's a great one, about a nouveau riche American named Christopher Newman who, on his first visit to Europe, rather naively seeks respite from the vulgarities of his native country, only to learn of the great and gross things about Europe in the course of his search. One of the first writers to deal with the American experience in the Old World, and a relevant one it remains. And I love the slippery syntax of James' prose. American business , arrogant and smug in its focus on pragmatic efficiency, meets the Old World, which hangs on to tradition , custom and class in the face of rapidly encroaching Internationalist modernism.
2. I've been harsh on Ezra Pound's poetry since my first full exposure to his work in college; as a lyricist I thought he was grandiose without rhythm, diffuse without those pockets of lyric genius that make critical interpretation worth the effort, prolix without purpose. There was more poetry in his critical rants , really, and he was a good scout for poets far superior to himself. Lately, I had the idea that maybe I would revisit him by picking up the Selected Poems of Ezra Pound, the same text I used in college , and see if being forty years older has allowed me to catch up with this man's fabled genius. Two days later, the ground beneath Pound's reputation remains charred and lifeless. This crypto- fascist was as much as a poet as Trump is a brilliant business man. What those two share is one tangible skill, that of self promotion and making millions your greatness is genuine. And both, it seems, harbor an affection for political strong men.