Henry Miller wasn’t fond of memorials, and it’s hard to say what he would have thought about our sleepy lil’ bookshop in the redwoods.
But just because he was anti-memorials doesn’t mean this blog should, like, y’know, talk about his actual books every now and then. (Furthermore, knowing Henry as I do, I probably would have blogged furiously; the trick is to think of him less as a “writer” in the Dickensian sense, and more of a rambling, mildly-irritating-yet-frequently-profound gadfly glued to some bar stool in a Polish bar in Williamsburg.)
Take Tropic of Capricorn, for example. Not nearly as well-known as “Cancer,” but interesting in it’s own right if no other reason than Miller – more than anyone else I’ve read – acerbicly (?) articulates how working in an office for a corporation can be a total drag.
Remember: the New York Miller was talking of was pre-WWII, pre-1950s conformity – decades before it became fashionable, all Beat-style, to rail against the squares. That said, I admit, Miller didn’t invent the “complaining about your work” genre, but his hatred of, again, that arch-typical Grey Flannel Suit starchiness, was, IMO, kinda prescient. (Ditto regarding his “Air Conditioned Nightmare.”)
And Henry was cool cuz rather than stare sullenly into his margarita during Friday night happy hour at Applebee’s after work let out, trying to drown out his career-colored existential angst, he straight-up quit, moved to Paris, and walked the starving-and-horny-writer walk. Bad-ass.
Does that mean “Capricorn” is an easy book to read? No. Does that mean I actually read the whole thing from cover to cover? Hmmm….wellll… Does that mean we hate corporations and that they’re all inherently evil? No and of course not, don’t be so hyperbolic!
(Besides, as others have noted, corporations are only bad when they askew beauty. Apple – also a corporation, and an arguably amoral one at that – can be just as nasty, but their products are so darn beautiful, so they get a pass. I mean, how does the ipod, when on shuffle, know to play the Byrds and Mamas and Papas whenever I drive down the 1?)