Andrei Codrescu and the Myth of America


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About the Book

“This is one of those times, a time choked in the weeds of academic and civilian formalism. To put it mildly, most of what we see in print in North America is unbearably trivial and singularly devoid of courage.”—Andrei Codrescu, The Disappearance of the Outside.

Known to the general public as a radio commentator on National Public Radio, Romanian-born essayist and poet Andrei Codrescu has developed a variety of voices throughout his career: Transylvanian humorist on NPR, surrealist poet in his many volumes of poetry, academic essayist in his philosophical writings and historical novelist. Taking seemingly everyday events in seemingly mundane places, Codrescu is able to link the random details into a larger whole, leading his readers and listeners to conclusions very different from those they first imagined. This work explores Codrescu’s writings and how they are a part of the surrealist tradition. It examines the ways in which his poetry, essays and novels are influenced by his upbringing in Communist Romania and the liberal attitudes he encountered upon moving to the United States, and draws comparisons between Codrescu and other surrealists. An interview with the author is also included.

About the Author(s)

Kirby Olson is associate professor of humanities at the State University of New York in Delhi. He is the editor of To Wit: Official Newsletter of the American Humor Studies Association.

Bibliographic Details

Kirby Olson
Foreword by Andrei Codrescu
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 216
Bibliographic Info: appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2005
pISBN: 978-0-7864-2137-4
eISBN: 978-0-7864-9143-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      v
Mirror, Mirror: A Foreword by Andrei Codrescu      1
Preface      3
Introduction: Codrescu/Benjamin: Surreal Urbanism      7

1. Communes/Suburbs: The ’60s      23
2. Postmodernism/The State: Nietzsche      26
3. Poetry/Politics: Codrescu as Surrealist Citizen?      35
4. Paradoxes/Linearity: Codrescu’s Ars Vita      44
5. Fun/Work: Fourier’s City      51
6. Variety/Uniformity: Detroit’s Demise      56
7. Paris/Las Vegas: Road Scholar      64
8. Joy/Philosophy: Nietzsche in Detroit      78
9. Outside/Inside: Polis/Police      90
10. Poetry/Oedipus: The Investigative Poets      100
11. Edward Sanders/Charles Manson: The Family      121
12. Good/Evil: Ceausescu      125
13. Surrealism/Protestantism: The Blood Countess      139
14. Messiah/Messiah: The Return of Paganism      145
15. Codrescu/Codrescu: Conclusion      152

Appendix A: Andrei Codrescu from a Romanian: Viewpoint, by Roxana Maria Crisan      159
Appendix B: Five Interviews with Codrescu      170
Appendix C: Works by Codrescu      189
General Bibliography      195
Index      203

Book Reviews & Awards

“Dense, detailed…first-rate”—American Book Review