When this memoir by a New School Poet was released in 1970, everyone said,"This is genius," and "Why didn't I think of that?"
Deft and direct, Brainard's fixed-based paragraphs, each beginning 'I remember' and in seemingly random order, quickly accrue to the sweetest and strangest kind of memoir. Georges Perec took a near-identical approach in his memoir Je me souviens, but Brainard's is the more dear archive by far.
Joe Brainard's I Remember is a literary and artistic cult classic, praised and admired by writers from Paul Auster to John Ashery and Edmund White. As autobiography, Brainard's method was brilliantly simple: to set down specific memories as they rose to the surface of his consciousness, each prefaced by the refrain I remember: I remember when I thought that if you did anything bad, policemen would put you in jail. Brainard's enduring gem of a book has been issued in various forms over the past thirty years. In 1970, Angel Hair books published the first edition of I Remember, which quickly sold out; he wrote two subsequent volumes for Angel Hair, More I Remember (1972) and More I Remember More (1973), both of which proved as popular as the original. In 1973, the Museum of Modern Art in New York published Brainard's I Remember Christmas, a new text for which he also contributed a cover design and four drawings. Excerpts from the Angel Hair editions appeared in Interview, Gay Sunshine, The World and the New York Herald. Then in 1975, Full Court Press issued a revised version collecting all three of the Angel Hair volumes and added new material, using the original title I Remember. This complete edition is prefaced by poet and translator Ron Padgett.