Thursday, August 26, 2010

First Lines Second Thoughts — Imaginative Qualities of Actual Things


First Lines Second Thoughts is a look at the first lines of well known literary works. On second thought, do these opening sentences stand alone as poetry? Today we look at Imaginative Qualities of Actual Things by Gilbert Sorrentino. Published in 1971.

What if this young woman,
who writes such bad poems,
in competition with her husband,
whose poems are equally bad,
should stretch her remarkably long
and well-made legs out before you,
so that her skirt slips up
to the tops of her stockings?


— Gilbert Sorrentino


Satirizing the mid 20th century avant-garde art scene in New York City, Gilbert Sorrentino's (1929–2006) Imaginative Qualities of Actual Things unfolds in chapters that focus and explore each of the eight main characters in this unconventional fiction. Sorrentino — who published two volumes of poetry before writing his first novel — wrote eight volumes of poetry. His poetry much like Imaginative Qualities of Actual Things had a focus on New York and it's people.