Oral Pleasure: Kosinski as Storyteller


Oral Pleasure: Kosinski as Storyteller is a collection of interviews, lectures, and transcriptions of media appearances from the legendary literary figure, Jerzy Kosinski. Compiled by his late widow, Kiki, most of the pieces here are published for the first time.

These texts bring sharper focus to the themes in his works, making this strikingly erratic individual more accessible. They provide an uncensored portrait of the writer plagued by scandal, whose authenticity was ...

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Oral Pleasure: Kosinski as Storyteller

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Oral Pleasure: Kosinski as Storyteller is a collection of interviews, lectures, and transcriptions of media appearances from the legendary literary figure, Jerzy Kosinski. Compiled by his late widow, Kiki, most of the pieces here are published for the first time.

These texts bring sharper focus to the themes in his works, making this strikingly erratic individual more accessible. They provide an uncensored portrait of the writer plagued by scandal, whose authenticity was challenged by fierce accusations of plagiarism regarding his seminal novel, The Painted Bird—suspicion that shadowed his career. Oral Pleasure reveals Kosinski as a truly genuine, gifted man of letters.

The material covers different aspects of Kosinski’s eventful life, from his thoughts on Poland and the Holocaust to his experiences with acting and television. He expounds on the difficulties of writing under a totalitarian government and the importance of freedom of speech. He discusses the fine line between fiction and autobiography, the prominent role sex played in his writing and life, the philosophical importance of violence in his novels, and his controversial statements on Jewish identity.

This collection offers new insight into Kosinski’s renowned work, portraying a brilliant storyteller behind the public figure.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Containing more than 60 documents from Kosinski’s career, the book flows like a conversation . . . thanks to the strength of Kosinski’s voice, [it is] coherent and recognizably whole. . . . even without prior knowledge of his work, Kosinski rewards those willing to engage with his stories." —Publishers Weekly

"[This] new collection of Jerzy Kosinski’s interviews and speeches reveals an Everyman who worked on his own terms . . . a most welcome body of texts that elucidates a rather mysterious persona." —Tablet

Kirkus Reviews
A collection of interviews, speeches and essays by the late author, whose literary reputation plummeted after a 1982 article in the Village Voice accused him of plagiarism and employing ghostwriters. Kosinski (1933–1991) won the National Book Award for his 1968 novel Steps, and before his 1982 plummet, he seemed to be everywhere, especially in magazines and on TV (numerous appearances with Johnny Carson). His widow (now also deceased) assembled these pieces, often transcribing recordings she'd made of his appearances. Neither Kosinski nor his editors (including Lupack) makes much of a defense for him; his editor relies on the frail argument that "the underlying truth" of his stories trumps factual accuracy. "Most of the charges were unproven," says the editor, neglecting to mention which ones were. The editor has arranged the pieces in large categories ("The Practice of Fiction," "On the Holocaust" and so on) and generally adheres to chronology within categories. So we hear Kosinski in a 1982 radio interview describing his boyhood in Poland, a boyhood that sounds a lot like the boy's in The Painted Bird. Kosinski had the capacity to say arresting things. In a 1973 letter to his publisher, he mentions how "the imagination creates molds into which experience can fit." He also wrote that a writer's function is to be a "detonator" and that language is "the translation of man's original weapons." Unsurprisingly, there is some repetition. Twice he mentions that the writer's task is to pause and reflect, and he repeatedly blasts TV for its numbing effects on the American mind. He also wishes that Jews would think more of the future, less of the Holocaust. Pieces that reveal a fine mind, a creative imagination and, sometimes, an idiosyncratic notion of fact.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802120335
  • Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 12/4/2012
  • Pages: 432
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.60 (d)

Meet the Author

JERZY KOSINSKI (1933–1991) won the Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature (1970), National Book Award for Steps(1969), best Screenplay of the Year Award for "Being There" from the Writers Guild of America (1980) as well as the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA; 1981). In 1967, he was a Guggenheim fellow. This just names a few of his many achievements.

BARBARA TEPA LUPACK has written many historical works as well as scholarly pieces on Jerzy Kosinski such as Critical Essays on Jerzy Kosinski and Plays of Passion, Games of Chance: Jerzy Kosinski and His Fiction.

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Table of Contents

Foreword Kiki Kosinski xi

Introduction Barbara Tepa Lupack xiii

On Autobiography as Fiction / Fiction as Autobiography

The Practice of Fiction (1982) 3

Literature as Identity (1985) 37

Autobiographical Aspects of The Devil Tree (1973) 44

"Being There" in Toronto (1987) 48

Synthesizing History (1989) 59

On Writing

Conversation with Geoffrey Movius (1975) 67

Parliament of Souls (1973) 78

On Fiction (1973) 81

The Bilingual Vision of Reality (ca. 1965) 88

Confronting the Self (1982) 93

Literary Invention (1990) 96

On Storytelling

Language as a Filter (1988) 103

Fiction as Communication (1988) 105

The Art of Storytelling (ca. 1977) 112

On Censorship

The Writer's Focus (1976) 121

Defending Chance (1989) 129

New York Film Critics Award (1982) 139

Centurions and Free Expression (1990) 141

On Autofiction

My Private Fantasy (1988) 151

The Making of a Novel (1988) 161

Fusing Forms (1988) 164

Society and Disorder (1989) 166

On Poland

Being Here (1988) 173

Euphoria (1989) 175

Supporting Reform (1989) 178

The Impact of War (1988) 181

On the Holocaust

A Monument to History (1990) 189

Mind Polish (ca. 1990) 195

Defining Myself (1988) 201

On the Film Shoah (1988) 204

On Jewish Identity

Obsession (1988) 209

Being There as a Polish Jew (1988) 212

Writers and Artists for Peace in the Middle East (1988) 223

Seizing Each Moment (1990) 226

Celebrating Jewish Life (1987) 230

On World Affairs

On a United Germany (1990) 239

A New Optic (1989) 244

Banking on History (1990) 252

Totalitarian Polemics (1983) 258

On Sex

Club Sex (ca. 1990) 269

Packaged Passion (1973) 272

Keeping a Man (1988) 288

Pro-Creation (1982) 291

On Television

Comment (1971) 295

Against Collectivization (1987) 298

Television as Propagandist (1977) 301

Vietnam in the New Visual Era (1971) 306

On Acting

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (1982) 311

Acting vs. Writings (1982) 312

Becoming Zinoviev (1982) 315

About Beatty and Reds (1982) 317

On Popular Culture

Blowing Your Cover (1982) 321

Surviving (1982) 325

Floating Lotus (1986) 329

On Being There

Casting Peter Sellers (1988) 345

Chance Encounters (ca. 1979) 347

The Impact of Being There (1985) 357

On Violence

Mrs. Rosenberg and The Painted Bird (1982) 361

The Essence of Violence (1977) 365

Life as Blind Date (1978) 369

Signature Events (1982) 377

On the American Dream

Port of Entry (1990) 385

The Lone Wolf (1972) 387

Experiencing America (1989) 397

Acknowledgments 399

Notes 401

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