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(03/12/2015) The Disappearance Of The Outside by Andrei Codrescu. Reading. 1990. 216 pages. hardcover. 0201121948. Jacket design by Gary Koepke. keywords: Literature Romania Essays Literary Criticism America.

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

   When an excerpt from this book first appeared, The Nation called it ‘a remarkable essay the sort of social-cultural-political analysis the mind longs for when it’s been fed for months on Wonder Bread while roaring for raw meat.’ This analysis could only have come from Andrei Codrescu: born in Stalinist Romania, exploring the world during the turbulent 1960s, and now an American poet, essayist, and commentator. In the late twentieth century, he writes, people fear the Outside - that which holds everything beyond our control and current understanding. We yearn to escape into the familiar, not into the unknown. Minds are no longer open to mystery. The rulers of the Eastern bloc tried to close off the Outside with barbed wire and censorship, driving away creative minds. An exile himself, Codrescu looks at Czeslaw Milosz, whose literary Lithuania has become more famous than the region itself; Vàclav Havel, recently a prisoner of the Czechoslovak state and now its leader; Milan Kundera, who sought a free press and now refuses all interviews; and many other authors who fled and fought oppression. Now popular revolutions are bringing East and West together. Codrescu was once so unwelcome in Romania that his name could not appear in crossword puzzles; in December 1989, he relates, he returned and was invited to go on national television. Yet here in the West, Codrescu points out, the Outside is blocked by billboards, drowned out by commercials. There is free expression, but can we really think about what anybody says? What will flow eastward through the cracks in the Iron Curtain — freedom of thought or ‘freedom to shop’? Part memoir of crossing East and West, part critique of our current world literature, and part jeremiad against how we ignore imagination as a force in our lives, THE DISAPPEARANCE OF THE OUTSIDE is an extraordinary piece of writing that holds challenges for years ahead.

 

Codrescu Andrei  Andrei Codrescu is a Romanian-born American poet, novelist, essayist, screenwriter, and commentator for National Public Radio. He was Mac Curdy Distinguished Professor of English at Louisiana State University from 1984 until his retirement in 2009. Born as Andrei Perlmutter on December 20, 1946 in Sibiu, Romania, he published his first poems in Romanian under the pen name Andrei Steiu. In 1965 he left the country to escape from the communist regime. After some time in Italy, he emigrated to the United States in 1966, and settled in Detroit where he became a regular at John Sinclair’s Artists and Writers’ Workshop. A year later he moved to New York where he became part of the literary scene on the Lower East Side. There he met Allen Ginsberg, Ted Berrigan, and Anne Waldman, and published his first poems in English. In 1970, his poetry book, License to Carry a Gun, won the ‘Big Table Award’. He moved to San Francisco in 1970, and lived on the West Coast for seven years, four of those in Monte Rio, a Sonoma County town on the Russian River. He also lived in Baltimore (where he taught at Johns Hopkins University), New Orleans and Baton Rouge, publishing a book every year, and actively participating in literary life by writing poetry, stories, essays and reviews for many publications, including The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, Harper's, and the Paris Review. He had regular columns in The Baltimore Sun, the City Paper, Architecture, Funny Times, Gambit Weekly, and Neon. He has been a regular commentator on National Public Radio’s news program, All Things Considered, since 1983. He won the 1995 Peabody Award for the film Road Scholar, an American road saga that he wrote and starred in, and is a two-time winner of the Pushcart Prize. He has been called ‘one of our most magical writers’ by The New York Times. In 1989, Codrescu's coverage of the Romanian Revolution of 1989 for National Public Radio and ABC News’ Nightline, was critically acclaimed, and his renewed interest in Romanian language and literature led to new work written in Romanian, including ‘Miracle and Catastrophe’, a book-length interview conducted by the theologian Robert Lazu, and ‘The Forgiven Submarine’, an epic poem written in collaboration with poet Ruxandra Cesereanu, which won the 2008 Romania Radio Cultural award. His books were translated into Romanian by Ioana Avadani, Ioana Ieronim, Carmen Firan, Rodica Grigore, and Lacrimioara Stoie. In 2005 he was awarded the prestigious international Ovidius Prize (also known as the Ovid Prize), previous winners of which include Mario Vargas Llosa, Amos Oz, and Orhan Pamuk. In 1981, Codrescu became a naturalized citizen of the United States. He is the editor and founder of the online journal Exquisite Corpse, a journal of ‘books and ideas’. He reigned as King of the Krewe du Vieux for the 2002 New Orleans Mardi Gras season. He has two children, Lucian and Tristan, from his marriage to Alice Henderson, and is currently married to Laura Cole.

 

 

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