Glenn Gould contemplates Robert Zend on the back sleeve blurb of the jacket wrapped around From Zero to One. Zend: I do not believe in biographical notes: the poems should speak for themselves. All the rest is gossip.
Zend, born like George Szirtes, in that Hungarian hotbed of bards that is Budapest left Hungary in 1956 to live in Toronto, Canada. I lost everything except my accent, he says.
From Zero to One is a tribute to the great Hungarian writer, humorist and philosopher, and Zend's spiritual father, Frederic Karinthy. The collection was written in Hungarian and translated into English by the author and his good friend John Robert Colombo.
And so here is the back sleeve blurb from Gould:
If I were a gallery curator, Robert Zend would pose a problem.
"Where do you want the stuff to hang, boss," my assistant would ask, "in with the Mondrians, maybe?"
"No, I don't think so - the sense of line is similar, but there's more sense of humour in Zend - so try wedging them between the Miros and the Klees, and better set up an exhibit of Saul Steinberg in the foyer as a teaser."
If I were a symphony manager, the problem would be similar.
"Out of ze question," Maestro von Zuyderhoffer would declare. "I conduct no Zend before Bruckner, not even mit Webern to raise curtains."
"But, maestro, Zend takes the comsmos for a plaything, as does Bruckner, and wrings out of it an epigram, like Webern. However, I suppose we could try him on a chamber concert with early Hindemith, maybe..."
"...and then, perhaps, Kurt Weill..."
"...and finish off with Satie."
"Nein, kein Satie. Zat vun is not knowing secondary dominants, und ze vork of Zend is full of modulation."
But if I were a book publisher, no such problem would exist.
Robert Zend could stand alone - his cynically witty, abrasively hedonistic, hesitantly compassionate, furtively God-seeking poems could mingle with each other, find their own program-order, and settle among themselves the question of what goes where and how much wall-space will be needed.
Gee, what an easy life book publishers must have.