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I Am Not Jackson Pollock: Stories.

John Haskell

256 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 184195697X / ISBN 13: 9781841956978
Published by Canongate.
Used Condition: Used - Like New Soft cover
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Fine. Paperback. 2003. This is an imported edition. Bookseller Inventory # W75917

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Bibliographic Details

Title: I Am Not Jackson Pollock: Stories.

Publisher: Canongate.

Binding: Soft cover

Book Condition:Used - Like New

About this title

Synopsis:

A bewitching collection of short fiction—haunting and hypnotic meditations on art, movies, literature, and life

A circus elephant named Topsy was executed at Coney Island in the year 1900 for killing a man. That’s true. So is the life of Saartjie (Sar-key) Baartman, the Hottentot Venus, who was herself a circus act in the first half of the nineteenth century. What is myth is the Indian god Ganesha, whose head was lopped off by his father, Shiva, and replaced—with an elephant’s head—by his disconsolate mother, Parvati. In John Haskell’s expert hands, these three curious strands are ingeniously woven together in one story called “Elephant Feelings.”

And so it goes with the rest of these dreamy meditations on the lives of artists, actors, writers, and musicians who are at once painfully human and larger than life. In “Dream of a Clean Slate,” Jackson Pollock the man struggles with the separation he feels from Jackson Pollock the artist; in “The Judgment of Psycho,” Haskell probes the sexual dynamic of Janet Leigh and Anthony Perkins in Psycho, and then delves into a different relationship, the one between Hector and Paris in the Iliad; Orson Welles presides over the long story “Crimes at Midnight,” a tense evocation of desire and its consequences. Haskell has written a series of myths for modern times, stories about the ways in which we are distant from ourselves and about the way art can sometimes help us imagine other worlds and other possibilities. It is an astonishing debut.
John Haskell was born and raised in California. He cofounded the Huron Theatre in Chicago, where he began performing his own writing. He received an M.F.A. from Columbia University, and is the recipient of a 2002 New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship. He lives in Brooklyn.
A circus elephant named Topsy was executed at Coney Island in the year 1903 for killing a man. That's part of history. The Hottentot Venus was exhibited in Paris in the first half of the nineteenth century because she was considered an oddity. That's also history. According to myth, the Indian god Ganesha had his head lopped off and replaced with the head of an elephant. In John Haskell's expert hands, these three curious strands are ingeniously woven together m one story called "Elephant Feelings."

And so it is with all these provocative short stories about artists, actors, writers, and musicians—from Glenn Gould to Joan of Arc—who are at once painfully human and larger than life. In his bewitching collection, Haskell expands small psychological moments within larger, famous lives to explore the nature of habit and desire.

In. "Dream of a Clean Slate," Jackson Pollock struggles with the gulf between Pollock the man and Pollock the artist; in "The Judgment of Psycho," Haskell probes the sexual dynamics between Janet Leigh and Anthony Perkins in Psycho; Orson Welles presides over the long story "Crimes at Midnight," a tense exploration of power and the consequences of using it. Haskell has written a series of myths for modern times, hypnotic meditations on the ways in which we are distant from ourselves and about the way art can sometimes help us imagine other worlds and begin to reimagine this world.
"In these wholly unique meditations on what it is to be human, John Haskell inhabits the famous and infamous, crawling inside outsiders ranging from painter Jackson Pollock, side-show act Topsy the elephant, the Psycho pathology of Anthony Perkins and Janet Leigh, and onto Capucine, Glenn Gould and more. Haskell makes the familiar his own—playing with language and history, turning time inside out, he delivers our culture back to us—made entirely new."—A.M. Homes

"John Haskell's I Am Not Jackson Pollack is a wonderfully intelligent, audacious and perverse collection of . . . what exactly? Fiction? Gossip? Film studies? Iconography? Liberty taking? Here's a book that defies the usual categories—but one thing's for sure, I savored every mythic, mesmerizing word of it."—Jim Crace

"John Haskell turns works of art into stories and stories into a weird blend of magically unrealist commentary. His investigations into the dream-life of movies and the way they have insinuated themselves into our unconscious are, in turn, works of art. Flickering constantly between creative and critical writing, marrying both without ever quite settling on either, he uses an ensemble cast of genius (Pollock, Hitchcock, and Gould et al) as Roberto Calasso did the myths of classic antiquity—and has come up with something unsettling, unexpected and original."—Geoff Dyer

"Nine intriguing debut pieces explore the point where art and life intersect—or collide—in the lives of artists, performers and movie characters . . . Intellectually dazzling, emotionally chilly, and bound to provoke."—Kirkus Reviews

"Haskell evades definition in his audacious debut collection, creating an innovative blend of fact and fiction and deliberately eliding the difference between them. Most of the nine stories are imaginative extrapolations of the lives of real people (or, in some cases, real animals), such as the eponymous painter and his wife, Lee Krasner; Psycho stars Janet Leigh and Anthony Perkins . . . Haskell mixes anecdotes from the lives of these artists and celebrities with fictitious events to compose deceptively simple vignettes in which he distills and clarifies moments of intense psychological struggle . . . Haskell subtly explores questions of exploitation and agency through the eyes of his celebrity characters, winking all the while at his own attempts to get into their heads. His hypnotic writing creates its own genre, unsettling and quietly bizarre."—Publishers Weekly

About the Author:

John Haskell is a former actor, playwright, and performance artist who has worked in New York and Chicago. He studied playwriting at UCLA, and is a graduate of the M.F.A. program at Columbia University.

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