Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sunday's Book Art: A Walk On The Wild Side and Tropic of Cancer


The poster announces the upcoming reading by authors Peter Joseph and Rick Wallach.  They are reading Ginzberg's "Howl" too, but they might be reading a number of things.  An event not without humor, I suspect.

Rick Wallach, author and editor of a large number of books and articles, is a longtime leading Cormac McCarthy scholar and formerly an associate of the famous mythologists Joseph Campbell and Marcia Eliade.

Henry Miller wrote of the working man, as did Nelson Algren.  Not many authors do that these days.  I believe in the ideas set forth in Dan Bern's song, "Marilyn Monroe Should Have Married Henry Miller."

Making the rounds on the internet this Bloomsday was Eve Arnold's 1954 picture of Marilyn Monroe reading James Joyce's Ulysses:

This week, when discussing the use of the cat as a symbol of the mankind's animal nature, I recalled the opening of the film version of Nelson Algren's A Walk On The Wild Side.  You can see it on youtube at this link.  

You can also find the ending segment there, which has Brook Benton singing the jazz lyrics to the Elmer Bernstein's majestic theme.  One night of praying, six nights of fun.  The odds against going to heaven, six to one.

That doesn't sound like Algren's novel, but it does sound like the movie, which is something else again.  The book differs and is much better, but even the novel was altered from Algren's original vision before publication.  One deleted segment was later published as a short story in the Nelson Algren edited anthology, Nelson Algren's Lonesome Monsters.    

I like the book cover with the two brick walls, the human figure clausterphobic and perhaps fearful, facing his own monster shadow in the alley.  The first hardcover edition of Lonesome Monsters had a vortex or spiral as in the logo for the Hitchcock movie, Vertigo.

The cat sequence is the most memorable thing about the movie of A Walk on the Wild Side.  Barbara Stynwyck and Anne Baxter seem to suffer through their roles.  A fresh-faced Jane Fonda makes her appearence as the new girl at the brothel.  When asked what she is doing there, she replies, "I run the candy concession."

Here are some more cat images for A Walk on the Wild Side, including the foreign film poster on which the movie was retitled, The Black Cat.


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