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This review is taken from PN Review 206, Volume 38 Number 6, July - August 2012.

Whimsically and Deeply joe brainard, ron padgett, and paul auster, The Collected Writings of Joe Brainard (Library of America) $35

Joe Brainard (1941-94), originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma, moved to New York when he was 19. He soon joined a charmed circle of poets and artists known collectively as the New York School. Brainard's work as an artist - which ranged from oil painting to collage to watercolour to pornographic cartoons - made him pretty famous in the 1960s and 70s New York art world. Brainard collaborated with poets including Frank O'Hara and John Ashbery, showed his art in major galleries in New York City and Paris, drew covers for his friends' poetry books, created set designs for poets' plays, and more.The Collected Writings of Joe Brainard, then, offers readers an overview of just one Brainard - Brainard the writer - but what a great Brainard the writing Brainard was.

The Collected Writings is edited by the poet (and Brainard's childhood friend) Ron Padgett. In his introduction, Paul Auster provides us with an overview of Brainard's life in art and writing. Auster's incredibly meticulous and insightful reading of I Remember (Brainard's most renowned work) is one of the great gifts of this collection.

The first part of Collected Writings reproduces the definitive version of I Remember in its entirety. The second part of the volume is organised chronologically under the heading 'Self Portrait'. As Auster explains, 'Spanning three decades (from the early sixties to the early nineties), ['Self Portrait'] falls more or less equally into two general categories: short texts (fiction, non-fiction, poems) and diaries or ...


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