Tuesday April 28th, 2009

The Manner Music by Charles Reznikoff

creznikoffRecommended by Joshua in Brooklyn, New York.
Here is a novel that shuttles between New York City and Los Angeles in the 1930s — some couldn’t ask for anything more — about a recovered and then lost again friendship between two men, one a traveling clothes salesman (the narrator, who gave up writing verse long ago) and the other an editorial assistant to a Hollywood producer (and later unemployed musician whose compositions baffle and worry his only listener, the narrator).  Reznikoff (1894-1976) is better known for his poetry — his collected poems, utterly direct and arresting as a rain drop to the scalp, were recently reissued — and those who are familiar with the poems will be enthralled by this record of urban Jewish life, sometimes tough, sometimes sublime, and delivered all the way through in a uniquely decisive though walkabout rhythm. For those who are new to Reznikoff, The Manner Music is as good a place to start as any.