The book first appeared as Elements of a Coffee Service in 1982 and then when it was published by Ithuriel’s Spear, Robert Glück, the author, noted “We dropped of a Coffee Service from the original title of Elements: I got tired of saying it and no one else seemed to remember it.” Good story. Worth adding to a trove of lore.
Notice how the shortened title opens up the set of elements.
This is in tune with the varieties of experience exposed in the pieces:
Orgasms come in all shapes and sizes, sometimes mechanical as a jack-in-the box — an obsessive little tune, tension, pop goes the weasel — other times they brim with meaning. And other times, like now, they are the complimentary close that signals the end of a lengthy exchange. I recall a memorable climax, a terrific taste of existence in the summer of ’73. I was with Ed; we weren’t doing anything special but the orgasm started clearly with the fluttering of my prostate, usually a distant gland, sending icy waves to my extremities. Then a hot rush carried my torso up into an arc and just before I came a ball bearing of energy ping-ponged up and down my spine.
Juxtapose with the description of the pace and form of conversation:
We settled in, obligingly gauging ourselves to each other’s rhythm as a sign of friendship: my abbreviations and wisecracking, Bruce’s paragraphs and meditative periods.
Note the order of presentation: abbreviations then meditative periods. A capsule history of the title.
And so for day 1242