just a journal

May 3, 2005

My review copy for Kenneth’s book arrived this weekend. I had forgotten what violent book it is, how full it is of the baseness of humanity. And it reads somewhat like juvenilia, having been his first book.

I don’t think I have mentioned much about it here – it was originally published in 1969 by Grove Press, the same publishers that fought to publish Lady Chatterley’s Lover and Lolita here in the States. t was reprinted in 1972, and was scheduled for reprint by Foxrock Books (Barney Rosset’s post-Grove publishing house) in 2001, but was canned after they lost a key staff member. Early last year I asked Kenneth if he’d be willing to republish it with an on-demand printer – he said yes, and here we are. The review copy was the first time I’d had the chance to read Great Heads as a novel rather than a xerox copy or a digital file. Still, I’ve read it probably fifty times. You can tell he loved Joyce at the time – there’s even a character named Stephen Joyce in the novel.

When I was 17 and positive that writing was the career for me, I spent a lot of time writing short stories and poems that were published in various fly-by-night zines. I came across an excerpt of Kenneth’s novel Pignon and emailed him after I read it. We struck up a correspondence, and within a month he’d had a bookseller friend of his send me a xerox copy of Great Heads. A month or two later, and I were in downtown Long Beach when we met a bearded gentleman playing guitar in front of a Starbucks. We chatted for awhile, and somehow I mentioned Great Heads, which he had read. “That’s a terrible book,” he said. “You shouldn’t be reading books like that.”

Nearly ten years later, I am glad for the opportunity to make it available in print once again.

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