Friday, August 26, 2005

The Booster - September 1937

Artwork by (left to right) Reichel, Brassai, Benno

Alfred Perles, Henry Miller, and Lawrence Durrell put together a collection of written pieces--old and new--and released their first issue (actually The Booster, volume 2, issue 7) in September 1937. [Here is a picture of the cover].

(I don't have a copy of this myself, so I must rely on internet sources and published Miller biographies to piece this issue together.)

Page 5 - Editorial by Miller, Durrell, and Nin. Lifetime subscriptions are solicited for 500 francs each. They declare their intention to "boost, baste and lambaste when and wherever possible. Mostly we shall boost."

Page 6 - "Sportlight" by Charles Norden (a pseudonym for Durrell). This appears to be a regular feature, because something called "Sportlight" also appears in the next issue. [to p. 11]

Page 12 - "A Boost For Hans Reichel" by Henry Miller. This may or may not be identical to an essay Miller wote on Reichel in 1936, called The Cosmological Eye (which is available in re-print in the book of the same name). Reichel was a painter acquaintance of Henry's, who lived around the way from 18 Villa Seurat. [to p. 13].

Page 17 - "Je suis le plus malade des surrealistes" by Le Merle Blanc ("The White Blackbird," an alias for Anais Nin), which was apparently inspired by Antonin Artaud. This was re-printed in Under A Glass Bell (1944). Selected quotes from this piece can be found here. [to p. 18]

Page 21 - "L'Oeil de Paris" (Eye Of Paris) by Valentin Nieting (pseudonym for Miller - actually his maternal grandfather's name. He'd used it before, as far back as 1924). This is a profile of photographer Brassai, with whom Miller was close. He'd actually written this essay in 1934 (creating the Eye Of Paris tag that would stay with Brassai into posterity). This essay was later reprinted in Miller's Wisdom Of The Heart. [to p. 25]

Page 26 - "Benno, The Wild Man From Borneo" by Henry Miller. Miller's profile of artist Benjamin Benno, whom Henry appears to have known personally. Benno did in fact live in Paris from 1926-1939. This portrait was re-printed in Wisdom Of The Heart, as well as in Benjamin Benno: A Retrospective Exhibit (Donna Gustafson, 1988). [to p. 29]

Page 37 - "A Lyric For Nikh" by Lawrence Durrell. A poem, I think.

Page ?? - "Le Quatuor en Re-Majeur" (excerpt) by Alfred Perles (his 2nd novel).

Page ?? - An excerpt from Anais Nin's diaries.

Insert - "Letter To The Park Commissioner" by Phineas Flapdoodle (another Miller alias). This was seperately printed and included as a 4-page insert inside the magazine. According to Shifreen & Jackson A14a, the title page contains a line that reads: "Please read very extra careful!" As well, the title includes an asterix, which leads to a note: "This is an authentic letter which reached the office of the Park Commissioner New York, in 1925, and was rescued from the wastepaper basket by Henry Miller." Miller worked for the Queens Parks Commissoner in 1927 (not 1925, as his fictionalized letter suggests).
According to Dearborn's Happiest Man Alive, Henry saved this from his NYC Parks job in 1927. However, the Bibliography of Primary Sources states that this is fiction written by Miller. It was also apparently published on it's own in 1950, and re-printed along with other Booster material in 1968 [Shifreen & Jackson B190]. The "letter" is also referenced and quoted in Nexus, page 167.

Incidentally, 'Phineas' is an old biblical name meaning "oracle" or "serpent's mouth," and 'flapdoodle' means nonsense or foolish talk.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Before 1934 each of the five boroughs of New York City, such as Queens, operated independent parks departments. Mayor LaGuardia abolished these departments and created one unified New York City Parks Department. This puts Henry's experience in the then independently run Queens Parks Department in an understandable light, for typically the more fragmented a bureaucracy is the more it is open to hiring workers like.....Henry Miller. But then how did he become employment manager of Western Union for New York City?

10:55 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have an old copy (the insert, that is) of the 'Letter to the Parks Commissioner" signed by Henry and given to my stepgrandfather, James Pasta, about 30 years ago (approximately). James and Henry were boyhood friends and also, James worked at the NYC Parks Office when the letter (original) was tossed in the wastebasket. I don't think it was my grandfather who retrieved it, although my mother may know more of the story's details.


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