Dispatches from Tanganyika

The Online Journal of Billy Martin, formerly Poppy Z. Brite

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Billy Martin
25 May 1967
(Formerly the journal of Poppy Z. Brite. Trying on a new name for size.)

"Dispatches from Tanganyika" is a reference to one of the incomprehensible editorial letters John Kennedy Toole received when he was trying to sell A Confederacy of Dunces (my favorite book of all time). "[W]hen someone like yourself is living off from the center of cultural-business activities, with only a thin lifeline to that center, through vague and solitary contacts, everything gets disproportionate, difficult to analyze, to give the proper weight to. It is like those odd people who turn up in New Zealand or Tanganyika or Finland, writing or painting masterpieces –- they have their own power, but they read or look as if the artist has had to discover the form for himself. They don’t have the assurance of worldliness and mutual interest and energy with others." I'm not sure the editor realized New Orleans was, in fact, part of the United States. (I'm not sure New Orleans is, in fact, part of the United States.) Ever since I read this, the word "Tanganyika" has been linked in my mind with the attempt to write fiction about the New Orleans that really exists, rather than perpetuating the fantasy.

Aside from the quotes below and occasional ones from other writers in my entries (which you'll find credited as such), all contents of "Dispatches From Tanganyika" © 2014 by Poppy Z. Brite.


"Personally, I never let myself get low," Patrolman Mancuso lied.

-- John Kennedy Toole, A Confederacy of Dunces


As I have earlier said, the thing I love about New Orleans is that it tends to be deserted, and there you may find peace. It is in the quietude, the deserted streets, the green and eccentric palms. Shortly after five o'clock the business district is deserted, and you won't find a person on the streets, except for one fellow in a seersucker suit. He will be walking slowly down Gravier Street, smoking a cigar. Tending his own garden.

-- Nancy Lemann, The Ritz of the Bayou


It's very interesting sharing a house with a group of people who obviously see things, hear things, think about things in a vastly different way.

-- Edward Gorey, on living with cats


You gotta know what your left hand's doing to your right hand, and your top foot, and your bottom foot, and everything.

-- Buddy Diliberto

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