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Beneath Cherry Blossoms - The Lilliput Review Blog

Saturday, 15 September 2007

James Fenimore Cooper and the Death of Susie Bowers


James Fenimore Cooper is remembered for quite a few things, not the least of which is his mind cramping, turgid prose that killed the joy of reading for many a high school student.  Fortunately, we have Mark Twain, whose brilliant response has perhaps saved a few of those students from a book-less future (in those little connections the mind makes, I thought of Bono's inspired battle-cry in a similar situation: "Charles Manson stole this song from the Beatles.  Now we're stealing it back."). 

In perverse celebration of JFC's birthday (as noted in this morning's Writer's Almanac), here is Mark Twain's Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses (which were not noted in Writer's Almanac).

In defense of Cooper, who has since high school actually given me some occasional moments of reading pleasure, here is the homepage of the James Fenimore Cooper Society, dedicated to the study of his life and works.

Today is also the birthday of the famed conductor, Bruno Walter.  Though his recording of Beethoven's symphonies have long since passed as the standard to measure others by, call me a romantic, they still remain my personal favorites.  Here is the Second movement of the 9th Symphony, conducted by Walter. 

Issue #120 of Lilliput Review is a broadside by Albert Huffstickler, entitled Dearly Departed.  This sequence of poems was written in memory of fellow poet/artist Susie Bowers, who had taken her own life very recently.  Susie and Huff were close and Huff had his own issues with self destruction and so this hit him as hard as it can.  As was usually the case, Huff talked himself through it in his poems and this was perhaps the best sequence he ever wrote, in my opinion.  The following are from that sequence.


People always want

to know why.

Why is just why.

It doesn't tell you




Suicide is a

great responsibility:

you take from others

so many things that

were never yours

to begin with.



I don't mind

my own solitude

but now you've

left me with yours.    



If you think life

holds a lot of surprises

wait till you see death.



I don't think I want

to understand why you did it.

I can't even deal with

not understanding.



And here we are

and here you go

leaving me

as you found me:

heart divided

words on paper.




       Susie by Huff                   Huff by Susie





Posted by donw714 at 11:50 EDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Sunday, 16 September 2007 06:50 EDT

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