Jules Feiffer's Unlearning

We are looking forward with pleasure to taking more than a moment's time with Backing into Forward, the memoir from longtime Village Voice cartoonist Jules Feiffer, which publishes officially next month.  A passage chosen not quite at random:

Lincoln Steffens, the great muckraker, had taught me an unforgettable insight when I read his autobiography in my early twenties.  Steffens's first job in journalism was as a cub reporter on a New York daily.  He was just back from a classical European education, thought he knew everything, and after a month on the job discovered that everything he thought he knew, everything he'd been taught, was wrong.  The assignment he took upon himself was to "unlearn."

Unlearn.  That became my watchword.  My job was to unlearn for myself and pass it on to my readers.  Cut through the crap, theirs and ours, the powers that be and the powerless.

I started hearing from my readers.  And this is what I didn't hear: I didn't hear "God, you're brilliant.  God, you're funny.  God, how do you come up with those weird ideas?"  No, what I heard was, "How did you get that into print?  How did they let you get away with saying that?"

 

-From Backing into Forward

April 17: "In less than three years, both GM and Chrysler would be bankrupt, and a resurgent Ford would wow Wall Street..."

advertisement
Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

And women too.  Luminaries from Colin Firth to Nick Cave and Jonathan Franzen chose the poems that bring them to tears, and the result is a stunning collection of poignant verse from writers like Auden, Whitman, Bishop, Larkin, Neruda and many others.  Warning: choking-up hazard.

The King of Pain

Trapped beneath his entertainment system, reality TV mastermind Rick Salter reflects on his life and tries to piece together the events of the previous evening. Seth Kaufman’s romp is an outrageous meditation on pain and entertainment in a deranged world in which the two are often interchangeable.

The Good Inn

Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, has written a transgressive historical fiction with shades of Thomas Pynchon (focused as it is on the history of explosives and cinematic pornography), all set in a hallucinatory Edwardian Europe.