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By Joshua Cohen

"Joshua Cohen has created a visionary novel that's terrifying and heartbreaking and humbling in its luminous brilliance. for my part, it firmly areas the writer at the related point as Kafka."—Michael Disend, writer of Stomping the Goyim

"The concept that there are a number of heavens, correct ones and mistaken ones, white ones and black ones, is driven to its fantastical limits via Brooklyn author Joshua Cohen in his dream-world novel of the afterlife. . . . Heaven is a demanding yet profitable learn on thematic and formal levels."—The Brooklyn Rail

"A breathless flight of managed delirium, an exquisitely blasphemous travel of an afterlife the place earth's dominion, in all its terror and glory, trumps the astonishing and overturns the area to come back. . . . It's a courageous booklet that are supposed to earn its younger writer the reader's profound and enduring admiration."—Steve Stern, writer of The Frozen Rabbi

When a ten-year-old Jewish boy is exploded on a Jerusalem road by means of a ten-year-old Palestinian boy, he wakes up in a heaven nobody in his culture ready him for, a heaven of others. Joshua Cohen's novel stands on the crossroads of a conflicted urban and wordplay that either celebrates and dismantles culture.

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And, as we will see, O’Hara’s stance is common and emblematic: whether fairly or not, friendship and fixity are consistently equated in the metaphorical vocabulary of many influential American poets and thinkers. Throughout Beautiful Enemies, I assert that this particular version of the urAmerican conflict between individual and community is deeply ingrained in American culture, literature, and philosophy—both woven into the fabric of its most distinctive philosophical and poetic texts and into the cultural discourses of the post-1945 period.

Self-consciously exclusive, marginal, and eccentric, they saw themselves as a “fraternity of despair” in “a defiled country” and envisioned poetry to be an emanation of a particular, insular constellation of individuals (40). A few years later, now ensconced in the different social nexus of Black Mountain poetry, Robert Duncan would describe his book Letters: Poems 1953–1956 as the outgrowth of a very specific, exalted community of friends, and even cast the book itself as a crystallization of fellowship: “A naming of my peers, and an exclamation of joy: Denise Levertov, Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, James Broughton, Mike McClure, Helen Adam—it is the presence of companions, named and unnamed, that inspires Letters.

Instead of idealizing the camaraderie and collaborative ethos of the avant-garde or ignoring poetic community altogether, I suggest that it is necessary, when considering postwar American poetry, to keep constantly in play both the individual and his or her complex negotiations with a larger cultural field of friends, enemies, and competitors, groups and movements. As we will see, poets like O’Hara, Ashbery, and Baraka constantly do precisely the same thing in their writings. This chapter will first examine the entrenched concept that the avant-garde is a communal enterprise and will draw attention to the enduring individualism that threatens to explode that notion.

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