The Harry Variations

The Harry Variations

by Hav Gefter
     
 
Hav Gefter (1931—2006) was an American original, a prolific writer in love with the English language, who put millions of deliberately chosen words on paper, who wrote a succession of fascinating literary works, and who was only published in the very last two years of his life. His works are noted for their honest and graphic descriptions of sex and human

Overview

Hav Gefter (1931—2006) was an American original, a prolific writer in love with the English language, who put millions of deliberately chosen words on paper, who wrote a succession of fascinating literary works, and who was only published in the very last two years of his life. His works are noted for their honest and graphic descriptions of sex and human behavior, and for their invention and use of language.

In late 1973, Hav Gefter received a phone call from his younger sister Joan, known from childhood as “Babe.” The news was grim; their father, Harry, was in a Los Angeles hospital, suffering the advanced stages of colon cancer, and was not expected to live much longer. If he wanted to see his father alive he should fly down to LA right away.

Harvey and his father were always in conflict. In most ways, Harry never understood his son. Harry was a tireless worker, a man who put in twelve hour days at his market, often working seven days a week. He saw no reason for living except to work, and work, as defined by Harry, meant endless toil and labor. When he looked at his son, Harvey, he could not understand what he saw, a boy who listened to classical records and not popular music, who read not pulp thrillers and comic books, but impossibly dense books by Tolstoy and other unrecognizable authors. Art and music enchanted Harvey Gefter and he wanted nothing so much as to spend his life both creating and enjoying art. Harry saw Harvey as a lazy bum and Harvey saw his father as a ruthless tyrant.

By the time Babe called Harvey with news of their fathers approaching death, the two had stopped speaking, and with four hundred miles between them, it seemed nothing was going to change that. But Harvey immediately got on a plane and flew down to Los Angeles. He not only wanted to see his father before he died, but the writer in him could not be denied the drama. Even while his father lay dying, he began the work that he would title, “The Harry Variations.”

“The Harry Variations” is one of Hav Gefter’s most accessible books. His disdain for story or structure was defeated by the timeline of his father’s approaching death, and he followed it hypnotically. It is a moving and touching work. There have been many works on the subject of a child confronting a parent’s death. “The Harry Variations” is one of the most unique.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
2940016796772
Publisher:
Three Stars Press
Publication date:
06/13/2013
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
959 KB

Meet the Author

Hav Gefter (1931—2006) was an American writer, a prolific craftsman in love with the English language, who put millions of deliberately chosen words on paper, who wrote a succession of fascinating literary works, and who was only published in the very last two years of his life. His books are noted for their honest and graphic descriptions of sex and human behavior, but more for their invention and use of language.

When Hav Gefter died in February of 2006, he left behind a massive legacy. A half century of writing filling thousands of pages, binder upon binder, box upon box. Much of this is in the form of letters and journals, but an appreciable part of it makes up the series of unique and compelling books he wrote, beginning in the late 1960s, with the two volume “Pisse not on Their Ashes.” This milestone work was followed, in the 1970s, by a series of books, each of them a stunning achievement of style and power.

Hav Gefter has been called a “sober Bukowski” and indeed that might be a fitting description of the writer to whom daily life, sex, warts and all, was his subject. It was not easy for him; even his closest friends found his writing uncomfortably naked and raw; it seemed to trespass all normal boundaries of decency. But it was not Hav Gefter’s intention to titillate or arouse. He was not writing pornography. He only wanted to capture every aspect of a life lived, and a huge part of life is sex. And he wasn’t going to exclude it.

He also had no regard for any story telling convention. He cared not for plots, chapters, devices, gimmicks, or anything that might guide a reader’s attention. Like a mad painter attacking his canvas he just sat and wrote. He did go through multiple drafts and spent much time rewriting, but of the bigger picture, the shaping of a story, he had a blind spot.

The result was often a manuscript that started abruptly, went full steam and then stopped. He cared not for a beginning or an ending. There were rarely chapters or any kind of organization. There was little a reader would recognize as a standard literary form. It did not bode well when offering these works to agents and publishers. And yet what power there is in his work!

Hav Gefter is not for everyone. You either hate him or you love him. But if you are a true connoisseur of the English language, you may well become one of the latter.

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