Let's Read: Delmore Schwartz


Delmore Schwartz is now better known as having been an influence to great work than for the work he himself created. Lou Reed, who studied with Schwartz as an undergraduate, frequently references his teacher's influence on his approach to art and songwriting; Saul Bellow fashioned the teacher in Humboldt's Gift after Schwartz, who died an alcoholic recluse at age 52. 

Achieving success so young seems designed to mess you up. At age 21, Schwartz wrote "In Dreams Begin Responsibilities," which you could call his greatest story, but is more accurately described as a great story. By 30, unable to replicate that success, he considered himself a failure. 

To the root and not the leaf:  read In Dreams

Also, a New York story, a brick-building story, a blistering hot summer afternoon story: playing a boxed set of Velvet Underground in a ground-level apartment with dark green carpet, eating a popsicle, maybe playing "European Son" (given the number of songs in the boxed set, there's a 1/64 chance). A hand came up from sidewalk level, reached inside my apartment window, unpeeled the yellow banana sticker that came adhered to the five disc set and that I'd stuck on the window, and disappeared.