Pure Act: The Uncommon Life of Robert Lax by Michael N. McGregorPure Act: The Uncommon Life of Robert Lax by Michael N. McGregor

Pure Act: The Uncommon Life of Robert Lax

byMichael N. McGregor

Paperback | April 3, 2017

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Excellence in Publishing Award, Association of Catholic Publishers
Honorable Mention, Catholic Press Association Book Award
Finalist, Washington State Book Award

Pure Act tells the story of poet Robert Lax, whose quest to live a true life as both an artist and a spiritual seeker inspired Thomas Merton, Jack Kerouac, William Maxwell and a host of other writers, artists and ordinary people. Known in the U.S. primarily as Merton's best friend and in Europe as a daringly original avant-garde poet, Lax left behind a promising New York writing career to travel with a circus, live among immigrants in post-war Marseilles and settle on a series of remote Greek islands where he learned and recorded the simple wisdom of the local people. Born a Jew, he became a Catholic and found the authentic community he sought in Greek Orthodox fishermen and sponge divers.

In his early life, as he alternated working at The New Yorker, writing screenplays in Hollywood and editing a Paris literary journal with studying philosophy, serving the poor in Harlem and living in a sanctuary high in the French Alps, Lax pursued an approach to life he called pure act?a way of living in the moment that was both spontaneous and practiced, God-inspired and self-chosen. By devoting himself to simplicity, poverty and prayer, he expanded his capacity for peace, joy and love while producing distinctive poetry of such stark beauty critics called him "one of America's greatest experimental poets" and "one of the new 'saints' of the avant-garde."

Written by a writer who met Lax in Greece when he was a young seeker himself and visited him regularly over fifteen years, Pure Act is an intimate look at an extraordinary but little-known life. Much more than just a biography, it's a tale of adventure, an exploration of friendship, an anthology of wisdom, and a testament to the liberating power of living an uncommon life.

Michael N. McGregor is a Professor of English and Creative Writing at Portland State University. He has lectured at universities, conferences, and community events on both Robert Lax and Thomas Merton and is a member of Biographers International Organization and the International Thomas Merton Society.
Title:Pure Act: The Uncommon Life of Robert LaxFormat:PaperbackDimensions:472 pagesPublished:April 3, 2017Publisher:Fordham University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0823276821

ISBN - 13:9780823276820


Table of Contents

Prologue: Going Back1. A Mutual Wonder-field2. Ends and Means 3. Portals to a Land of Dusk4. The Cottage5. Lo, the sun walks forth!6. Suicide Notes7. The Scream8. Aquinas and the Circus Beckon9. The Siren Call of Hollywood10. On the Road with the Cristianis11. Being a Presence in Postwar Marseilles12. Entering the Lion's Mouth13. Paris, Jubilee, and Kerouac14. Inspiration in a Greek Diner15. A New Poetics16. "Original Child Bomb" and an Island Home17. The Sorrow of the Sponge Diver18. A Saint of the Avant-Garde19. Alone in the World20. A Galapagos of the Spirit21. All Thoughts as They Come22. The Flaw in the Ideal23. Hell Hath No Fury24. Finding a Common Language25. Pure Act Becomes Pure Love26. The Peacemaker's HandbookEpilogue: The Singer and the SongNotesBibliographyIndexAcknowledgmentsPhotographs follow page

Editorial Reviews

Michael N. McGregor, who spent considerable time with Robert Lax, has composed a captivating study of this poet and journal keeper's pilgrimage through life.