It is certainly no secret that I am a frequent correspondent with and major journalistic supporter of veteran screenwriter and novelist Rudy Wurlitzer, as any close reader of my Deconstruction Zone column for PopMatters will note.
My friendship with Rudy grew out of a months-long e-mail correspondence that began in late 2008 as an informal interview; that correspondence (as well as subsequent telephone conversations) formed the basis of my 6 February 2009 column, “Conversing with Rudy Wurlitzer: ‘A Beaten-Up Old Scribbler'”.
In a 30 July 2009 column, “Rudy Wurlitzer, Bob Dylan, Bloody Sam, and the Jornado del Muerto”, I explored Wurlitzer’s debut novel, Nog (1969, re-released this year by Two Dollar Radio), and wound up creating a meditative essay on Sam Peckinpah, the death of the American frontier, Bob Dylan, and the stormy production of Peckinpah’s 1973 masterpiece Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (from a screenplay by Rudy Wurlitzer). It’s easy to veer off in different directions from the path originally intended when writing about Wurlitzer and his remarkable body of work because his themes and preoccupations invite a sort of Beckett-esque circular exploration.
Wurlitzer, in my opinion, is one of the finest American writers produced by the tempestuous and troubling counterculture of the late 1960s and early 1970s, certainly ranking up there with his celebrated colleagues Joan Didion and Robert Stone. I intend to write about Wurlitzer again in my December column because, frankly, my exploration of the somewhat reclusive author and his literary canon is not yet complete.
With that much said, imagine my surprise this morning when I awoke to find e-mails from two colleagues pointing me to an article in the online edition of the Los Angeles Times written by Sam Adams and titled The Resurgence of Rudy Wurlitzer. From the LAT article:
These days, however, there’s something of a Wurlitzer resurgence in the works. His films have found new life on DVD, and the independent press Two Dollar Radio has begun to bring his writing back. In 2008, the publisher released “The Drop Edge of Yonder,” his first new novel in nearly a quarter of a century; earlier this year, it reissued “Nog.” Now come “Flats” and “Quake,” collected together in one double-sided volume (244 pp., $17 paper). For the first time in more than three decades, it’s possible to investigate the interplay between Wurlitzer’s novels and his screenplays, the way his radical experiments in one informed his canny deconstruction of the other.
Now, compare and contrast the above with my own text from Conversing with Rudy Wurlitzer, written for The Deconstruction Zone at PopMatters a full nine months earlier:
Indeed, there is something of a Rudy Wurlitzer renaissance going down in the pop culture zeitgeist; not only through the Criterion releases but also through a well-deserved re-examination of Wurlitzer’s long-forgotten work as a masterful novelist, with independent publisher Two Dollar Radio preparing to re-release the out-of-print novels Nog (1969) and Quake (1974) in late 2009. Two Dollar also plans to release Wurlitzer’s Flats (1971) and Quake in a single “69 turnover” edition (two books in one binding) which pleases Wurlitzer immensely because both novels, the author says, “seem related as they were written back-to-back expressing a sort of post-apocalyptic vision that I was consumed with in those days.”
You gotta love Adams’ canny use of the noun ‘deconstruction’ in his last sentence. A subconscious slip? The hell if I know, but I did take great comfort in what a colleague wrote to me after analyzing both articles:
“One thing I learned in marketing: if you are the person who brings ideas to the table, it doesn’t matter what falls off; the table is always yours, and the thieves need you. Keep plowing the high ground.”