The copy of THE JOURNAL OF ALBION MOONLIGHT by Kenneth Patchen that I just finished reading was a used copy and was filled with notes in pen on what was going on. This was actually invaluable to me as this is not a regular book you can just read.
Like the last several chapters of ULYSSES thrown into a blender with pre-Kerouac beatisms and Donald Barthelme type surreal situations, this books doesn’t make any sort of sense as a narrative.
Rather, I read this is as prose poetry, an extended poetic narrative similar to AT GRAND CENTRAL STATION I SAT DOWN AND WEPT by Elizabeth Smart or some of the works of Richard Brautigan but even less structured than those especially the last hundred or so pages.
I guess interpretation is the question here. I think that this book is beyond interpretation and it would be frustrating and pointless to look for meaning. For example;
Once we passed a large group of people gathered in a field around a fire. They had an old fat woman strapped to a post and were slowly cooking her, amid shouts of merriment and good spirits. She seemed to be laughing with the others although the flesh on her thighs was already beginning to flake off. I was surprised to see very small children poking the meat off with her with long, pointed sticks
Rather I think this is man’s battle with poetry, with expression, with all the petty day to day concerns that keeps us distracted and those that aren’t so petty (like the outbreak of WWII during which this book is occurring)
Sex provides no respite and I imagine if this book had been written a couples decades later, a similar pronouncement would have been made on hallucinogenic drugs.
Rather a non-specified desire to produce from the heart words with feeling, unedited, not necessarily making that much sense put together.
I prefer Patchen’s poetry which I wrote about here http://rgdinmalaysia.blogspot.com/2009/06/some-thoughts-on-poetry-of-kenneth.html
I think he was and is one of America’s greatest poets but this is a challenging read and if you are satisfied as I am with couplets of surreal absurdity melded into a kind of loose fable then I recommend this.
It is certainly original in every way.