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The Orangery by Gilbert Sorrentino

Orange you glad there was a writer named Gilbert Sorrentino, and that he left us so many innovative novels and books of poetry too?

Sorry about that cheesy orange opening, but since every poem of the seventy-eight collected here in 1978 for the Texas Press Poetry Series and published as The Orangery, purposely (and cleverly) contains a variation or adjective on "orange" -- coronas, coronets, carillons, crèmes, burnt-orange, blossoms, bustiers, roses, glare, gold, fruit, flavor, flowers, tangelos, juice, ice, orangeades, sponges, sunsets, suns, light, love, stars, moon, Florida, slacks, conflagration, flames, gifts, gaudiness, wallpaper, glitter, groves, orchards, Orange Julius, disingenuousness, drinks, trees, glamour, togas, poppies, poseurs, hair, sombreros, guava, lava, Java, jelly, underbellies, duck's feet, sherbet, wax, marmalade, and perhaps a few other words I've neglected to itemize -- understand that my apology is truly insincere!

Gilbert Sorrentino obviously had a hankering for orange.  Had he gone mildly orange mad when he wrote The Orangery?  Orange sad maybe?  Obsessed, temporarily, with some orange fad, circa 1978, like the then en vogue burnt-orange of hip interior design?

"Poetry must not be poured into molds / the man said, fighting an old battle / filled with wild alarums. / No one eats oranges / in anyone's poems," Sorrentino observed in "Variations 1," making clear his intent of writing something different.  Poems whose points pivoted oddly, though not awkwardly, around orange.

Note that Gilbert Sorrentino, the author who ingeniously, metafictively, began his most famous book with its very (well, confabulated) rejection slips, all seventeen of them, for Mulligan Stew, wrote this book of poems, The Orangery, styled after sonnets (if not fourteen lines to a poem, then twenty-eight lines, or forty-two, sometimes fifty-six or seventy, but always multiples of fourteen) on "Orange," even though "nothing rhymes with orange" as he related (dismayed) in "Broadway! Broadway!" -- is a truly remarkable feat for such an innovative poet, at least in this enthusiast's estimation, of orange-ineering!

Knock knock.

Who's there?


Banana who?

Knock knock.

Who's there?


Banana who?

Knock knock.

Who's there?


Orange who?

Orange you glad I didn't say "Banana" again, er, that I found this rare, out of print, first printing of The Orangery at my local thrift store for a paltry sonnet's multiple of cents -- eighty-four of them in total, to be exact?

Me too!


EnriqueFreeque said…
Thanks Marie!

I should mention that the same store I got that All The King's Men first printing, I got this one. Oh, and I didn't mention in the post, though maybe I should have, or perhaps do so in another post, that same charmed thrift store had a first printing of Brief Interviews with Hideous Men in impeccable shape that I safely salvaged from their shelves for $1.29. I'm living the bibliophile's dream of late!
bookspersonally said…
What a riot, love learning about the poet (and revisiting an all time favorite knock knock joke) - found you through Marie the Boston Bibliophile's blog! look forward to reading more.
EnriqueFreeque said…
Thank you for stopping by, bookspersonally!

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