Back in the USSR: Review of Bill Berkson’s INVISIBLE OLIGARCHS

Heavy Feather Review

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Invisible Oligarchs, by Bill Berkson. Brooklyn, New York: Ugly Duckling Presse, May 2016. 64 pages. $14.00, paper.

Bill Berkson, who died in June 2016, was one of the last survivors of the original New York School that included Frank O’Hara, John Ashbery, and James Schuyler, poets who seemed equally at home in the world of art, or at least the New York art scene. The headline of his New York Times obituary tags him as “Poet and Art Critic of ’60s Manhattan In-Crowd,” and lauds

his striking good looks and insatiable appetite for the new affording him instant entree. His friends were legion, an endless roll call of the geniuses, provocateurs and poseurs who gave the decade its distinctive cultural tang.

It’s surprising, then, to realize that Berkson abandoned that cultural milieu for northern California way back in 1970, though he remained an active critic in…

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