Can you imagine why a pornographer would be shy? Are you satisfied with the state of (a) World Society (b) your soul (c) American writing? Are you in the habit of reading books that could have been written by anybody? Do you really want the truth? Do you know how angels learn to fly? What would you feed a green deer? Do you think a profound social message can be conveyed by a book that is comic in character? When Kenneth Patchen’s comic masterpiece, The Memoirs of a Shy Pornographer first appeared in 1945, these questions were asked on the dust jacket. They have never seemed more relevant. The hilarious saga of Alfred Budd of Bivalve, New Jersey-a Candide-like innocent and part-time pornographer, written with what Diane DiPrima called Patchen’s “tender silliness,” should inspire a new generation of readers
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