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By Jerome Charyn

Longtemps je n’ai pas pu retourner dans le Bronx. C’était dans mon crâne comme un cri strident, ou une blessure que m’aurait recousue quelque chirurgien fou et dont je n’osais pas retirer un seul aspect. C’était un will pay dépourvu de tout, un monde sans livres, sans librairies, sans musées, où les pères rentraient à pas pesants de l. a. crèmerie ou de l’usine à chaussures qui les employaient, les épaules ployant sous une monumentale tristesse, où les mères comptaient le moindre sou chez le boucher... alors que leurs enfants, tous tools du désordre, garçons comme filles, volaient, mordaient, brimaient à tort et à travers…

Et voilà qu'aujourd’hui, au fil de treize nouvelles, Jerome Charyn revient dans ce "Bronx amer" où il est né et où il dit avoir tout appris à l. a. dure école de l. a. rue. Très jeune, il y a connu les guerres de gangs, mafiosi, albanais ou cubains et fréquenté des escrocs et des voyous qu'un gamin pouvait trouver magnifiques, des femmes faciles mais si séduisantes, des truands sympathiques – bref les personnages qui hantent tous ses romans.

Mais désormais, le ton s’est durci, los angeles tonalité est plus sombre, 'j’entends des cris de guerre au loin', nous dit-il. Ce qui par contre n’a pas changé, c’est ce kind inimitable, syncopé, "jazzy" – bref l. a. merveilleuse musique de Jerome Charyn.

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Bronx amer. Treize nouvelles

Longtemps je n’ai pas pu retourner dans le Bronx. C’était dans mon crâne comme un cri strident, ou une blessure que m’aurait recousue quelque chirurgien fou et dont je n’osais pas retirer un seul element. C’était un can pay dépourvu de tout, un monde sans livres, sans librairies, sans musées, où les pères rentraient à pas pesants de los angeles crèmerie ou de l’usine à chaussures qui les employaient, les épaules ployant sous une monumentale tristesse, où les mères comptaient le moindre sou chez le boucher.

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Many literary authors, from ages past and in the present, might protest that both groups – one dismissing literature, and the other one “defending” it – have shrunken literature’s value. By contrast, over the past century a diverse array of progressive intellectuals and scholars – outside as well as inside literary studies – have made a case for literature’s cognitive value and critical utility. When Van Wyck Brooks coined the term “usable past” in 1918, he argued that American literature – not history, as it was then written – provided a “usable past” for those interested in rethinking what America was, is, and could be.

New York: Oxford University Press, 1982. Freneau, Philip. The Last Poems of Philip Freneau. Ed. Lewis Leary. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1945. Freneau, Philip. The Poems of Philip Freneau, Poet of the Revolution. 3 vols. Ed. Fred Lewis Pattee. Princeton, NJ: The University Library, 1902. Freneau, Philip. Poems Written and Published during the American Revolutionary War, and Now Published from the Original Manuscripts; Interspersed with Translations from the Ancients, and Other Pieces Not Heretofore in Print.

The political conflicts that Freneau routed through the now seemingly archaic oppositions between prose and poetry remain very much a pressing concern for American literary and cultural study in the twenty-first century. The politics of form attains renewed significance as American literary scholarship explores new forms, and nowhere today is such a development more evident than in graphic novels that are popping up in more and more classrooms. Whether it is the 2006 achievement of Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese (nominated for the National Book Award for excellence in Young People’s Literature) or Toufic El Rassi’s Arab in America (2007), the graphic novel reanimates Freneau’s concerns about spreading and propagating minority viewpoints.

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