[Erje Ayden] A tribute to the Turkish beatnik

## is the traditional “foreigner,” perhaps no more foreign to our language and ways than was D. H. Lawrence, perhaps as foreign to them as Joseph Conrad was to English at the beginning of his great labors. Like Lawrence he has the advantage of viewing our morés and our verbal locutions from alien and strong tradition; like Conrad he would like to have a rhetorical hero of undeniable strength and certitude appear in his writings, but life cannot reveal one. Like so many who refreshed the languages of the world in the 20th century, he is an alien wherever he is, probing and disfiguring ordinary reality with a sense of popularity, and accepting its most peculiar and neurotic aspects as quite unexceptional. Like most writers of power and vivid interest, Ayden is able to transform his miscalculations and misunderstandings into personal expressive advantages. We must admire this unless we are to give up William Carlos Williams’ dictum that the American language is distinct from the English, and lapse into a long development of Mandarin style which would be indistinguishable from the tiring mistake of the English, of the French, and the German.

Because of the moral ambivalence of another tradition, Ayden is one of the sexiest writers we have; because of his struggles with acquired language he has a vigor uncommon among our novelists; without the mannerist inclinations of Salinger, Pynchon, Barth, or Updike, he is able to convey the real trouble underneath the bizarre and the banal. In adopting Fitzgerald as his model, Ayden links himself with other off-shoots of that germinal stylist’s attitude: Nathanael West, Horace McCoy and even Dashiell Hammett. He has the same brevity, the same swift pace, the same tendency of observation and impatience with analysis. Neither daring nor caring to make a beautiful English sentence, he is able to get some of that marvelous Fitzgerald quickness and pointedness, which in the latter’s case made Hemingway’s most machine-gunned sentences seem rather studied. As with Gatsby and Rosemary, Ayden’s characters are quickly fixed by events in an airy space which belongs to no one, least of all them. Through Ayden’s eyes we see an “Amerika,” as odd as Kafka’s; as funny as absurdly sad. Nobody thinks that things are as they seem, but Ayden makes the gap between seeming and being considerably wider. Operating in this gap his people (Elliott in Crazy Green, “I” in Confessions of a Nowaday Child, the hero of From Hauptbanhoff I Took a Train who keeps changing his name) are always on the go, whether their destination is set or not, in order to keep alive.

– Frank O’Hara


“Erje Ayden’s novels provide a little-known but fascinating view of American bohemian and bourgeois society from the point of view of a sympathetically bemused Turkish observer. The wonder is that Ayden’s not more famous, as he can be as addictive as Simenon or Proust.”

– John Ashbery


“The Summer Frank O’Hara Died”, “The Crazy Green of Second Avenue”, “From Hauptbahnhof I Took a Train”, “Harbor of Whales” and “The Legend of Erje Ayden” were among the books that rose a great interest of the author who had not come back to Istanbul in more than half a century. Seymour Krim, Herald Tribune’s re-known critic and writer had written about “The Crazy Green of Second Avenue” which had sold over 2 million copies just in the USA: “Ayden’s novel ‘The Crazy Green of Second Avenue’ has sold over 10.000 copies just in New York’s Village neighborhood in two months’ time. The book’s impact was so dense and forceful that Erje Ayden became an instant legend in the art circles. Now his name is being cited among the other legendary names of the Village such as Eugene O’Neil, Edgar Allan Poe, Edward G. Robinson, Jackson Pollock etc…”

His father was a famous senator Hidayet Aydıner and his mother was the daughter of a Kazakh warrior. Erje’s real life was nothing but a mysterious novel. Rumors place him in Paris as “The spy of a European country” and there he gets in a collaboration with North African revolutionaries before moving “for good” to America where he would be doing totally odd jobs such as grave digger, playboy, acting and all others.

Ayden who started writing books from 1964 on with his everyday life simple yet attractive street English had been a regular at the Village’s Cedar Tavern, that was a meeting point for all the famous or struggling artists and writers of New York. Since those years, Erje stayed close friends with the legendary artist “Bill” Willem de Kooning and other names such as writer Frank O’Hara, artist Alan d’Arcangelo, Michael Goldberg, Gustave Asselsberg and so on…

The literary “taste” in Ayden’s books, although quite different from the ones of Jack Kerouac or Charles Bukowski who have worked in close time zones with him is still quite parallel with them. The author who is the voice of a great marginal poetic world, succeeds in capturing genius in the daily simple aspect of life.

These are the book of Ayden published in Turkey.

From Piramid Publishing:

– The Legend of Erje Ayden (2001)
– The Crazy Green of Second Avenue (2001)
– From Hauptbahnhof I Took a Train (2002)
– Matador (2004)
From Self Publishing:
– Sweet Milk (2005)
– Goldberg Pasha (2005)