By Mark Baumer
“One way to introduce this posthumously released book by the beautiful enigma of Mark Baumer is to say something about how, as he lived, Mark was the writer most possessed of freedom—pure, uncompromised creative freedom—that I’ve probably ever read. By this I mean that the body of work he was able to produce in his heartbreakingly short time on our planet operated rigorously and overflowingly in a matter of vision unbound by convention, expectation, structure, theme, much less awards, credits, recognition; I mean how in everything he ever wrote, whether about vegetables or capitalism, office work or walking barefoot across America, from one word to another absolutely anything might happen, any inanimate entity might find a voice, through any word; to the extent that, from the outside, it seems the work of a child genius, where by child I mean the kind so unaffected by the arbitrary canonical rules that, like Barthelme or Kharms, it seems to describe a version of the world so innately absurd, so blissfully unbound, that many more restricted readers might receive it, one might say, only as might someone looking out through the security grid of our luxury panopticon at a far off and spectacular horizon slowly receding across the wide and darkened land, hearing an old friend’s voice somewhere way out there in the receding gradient, saying it’s okay, you will wake up soon, I am here
—from the Introduction by Blake Butler
“You find Baumer’s impossible utterances stuck to your mind the way sometimes you’re walking funny and look down and discover a gum wrapper stuck to your shoe, and then you read the fine print and discover it’s a wrapper from the gum that holds the universe together and then you fall down on the sidewalk and begin searching for the gum to chew it all over again.”
Writer, poet, and activist Mark Baumer was the author of MEOW (Burnside Review Press, 2019). In 2017, he was struck and killed by an SUV in rural Florida while walking barefoot cross-country to raise awareness of climate change. He once wrote 50 books in a single year. Read more about Mark in The New Yorker and The New York Times.
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