DC's

The blog of author Dennis Cooper

4 books I read recently & loved: Ashley Farmer The Farmacist, Christopher Kang When He Sprang From His Bed, Staggered Backward, And Fell Dead, We Clung Together With Faint Hearts, And Mutely Questioned Each Other, Jean Lorrain Monsieur de Bougrelon, Mat Laporte Rats Nest

‘The digital is often framed as a site of contagion—one can contract fatal viruses (or send them). One can suffer the pollution of good ol’ American values—the allure of exotic chrome and pixels from the Silicon Valley proving altogether too enticing. Indeed, the Valley itself was once good ol’ American farmland, before wresting technological eminence from Route 128 in Massachusetts. But one can also “go viral,” become contagion itself; one can colonize digital space as imaginative playground and bend its offerings to one’s own designs, just like a virus; one can even farm online. If the digital can be named any one thing, it is ever-replicating multivalence, which passes from vector to human vector, becoming at once a thing and its antithesis, simulacrum and simulacra, sanctuary from danger but also danger itself.

‘Ashley Farmer’s The Farmacist suggests by its title an affiliation with digital contagion—perhaps as an offering, a written prescription for our complicated diagnosis. Yet there is nothing prescriptive about its approach. Rather than tease a dichotomy between good and bad contagions, Farmer forces her readers to rethink both the charming idealism of a tech-utopia, as well as the privileges afforded “authenticity,” or the real. After all, does the computerized drip-irrigation of a farm render it unreal? And how much of Farm Town—an interactive digital pastoral available via Facebook—actually remains constrained within that fabricated digital?

‘At one point, Farmer’s protagonist is wearing a mask, the classical marker of (in)authenticity: “But when I pulled it off,” she says, “my real face was absent. In its place: an arrangement of hashtags. Put it on again.” There is no cathartic reveal, no affirmation of the real versus the unreal, or triumph of one over the other. There is not even a change of state—the mask returns to the face. There are no truths resting, hidden, behind it. Yet Farmer’s tale resists modernist nihilism as well, and the mask’s failure to unveil truth, health, salvation, does not fatally condemn its wearer, nor her world.

‘Every action in The Farmacist is hemmed in by margins of error, as characters seek “an approximation of heaven,” or are entreated to “walk towards me in beta” (emphases mine), though these margins are perhaps less boundaries and blankspaces than liminal incubators. Early on, the narrator insists that “This Bird of Paradise is not a bird,” a play on Ceci n’est pas une pipe; but where Magritte’s distinction is between pipe and mere image of a pipe, a Bird of Paradise was in fact never a bird, and has only ever borne passing, somewhat idiosyncratic resemblance to a bird. Whatever its image, it is a full organism unto itself; approximations of heaven and walks in beta are not only loose scrawls within the margins of error, but vibrant non-Euclidean spaces in their own right.’ — Mika Kennedy

 

Ashley Farmer’s Site
The Digitally Absurd: The Farmacist by Ashley Farmer
Ashley Farmer interviewed @ The Rumpus
This Modern Writer: Alone in the Dark by Ashley Farmer
Buy ‘The Farmacist’

 

Ashley Farmer The Farmacist
Jellyfish Highway Press

‘Ashley Farmer’s The Farmacist, a meditation on the Facebook game, Farm Town, explores the realm where the “real” world buffets the imagination, and the conscious mind courts the subconscious iterations of desire and distraction. It investigates the liminal space between log on and log off, between rural and urban. Whip smart and empathetic, The Farmacist is fiction crashing the lyric’s slumber party, a reified shibboleth for the age of social media, all of it rendered beautifully, the poet’s ear and the proser’s eye working together to encapsulate and expound. Using the digital farm as a metaphor for the incredible shrinking American dream, Farmer gives her reader the rare experience of understanding human ambitions and aspirations as both futile and necessary. Don’t ignore the invitation.’  — Christopher Kennedy

‘It’s rare to find bursts of prose so laden with the fruit of meaning: city and country, solitude and sociality, leisure and labor all get grafted together into a novel tree of Ashley Farmer’s making. This book is often stunning in its vision of western life, the internet, and alienation—as she writes for us, “These dreams aren’t even mine—I just idle in them.”’ — Ken Baumann

 

Excerpts

Little Bo Peep Comes to Farm Town

It’s God’s day, but I wear thigh highs beneath my Bible. Maybe that’s why He took my flock. My lambkin lost, I feel forsaken. I witness crooks and necks that crane toward this skirt impractical for tending sheep or even nailing up Have You Seen Me? posters. My heart bled once when the livestock lost their tails. Again when I looked out at the hills thinking that they missed me. (That night, I’d find their woolly nubs nailed to a tree.) I’m a girl on the go, owning nothing now, owing on this ridiculous get-up. What good is pretty, petty unemcumberence when you have no reason to be? I find a shitty dive with Photohunt a buck a game. It’s afternoon. In the dark I drink drafts and play addition or subtraction of body parts and black straps and wisps of hair on naked women. I’m foolish, but not so easily fooled: in one photo she’s whole, in the other incomplete.

 

The Wolf

Disguised as a lover, he was all clover. Dressed as a December hunter: a genuine risk. He waited me out in the snowy hedge. I said, Go home, predator, but he became a compulsive visitor. Knock knock, he called with his teeth. Knock knock, he called without knocking at all. He said, I saw those large snow patches and thought you’d need help melting them. I battened the hatches, eyed him through discount curtains. Beneath the moonlight, he poached field eggs, stripped wild grass, drained the milk keg, dismembered the rabbit hutch. He knotted the hose through the branches like sin. The mailbox spilled quills, spit fur at visitors. The Wolf shammed an exit but recurred while I dreamed of cartoon buzzsaws, of rolling pin pursuits, of tarring and feathering him. I discovered fire. You’ll like it, he hissed. But spring made good and caused the ice to crack. The Wolf tumbled toward the big sea coast. He floated out into summer because his mama never taught him manners and he never learned to swim. Autumn now. I still feel fangs through the door: Just this once, he asks without asking at all.

 

Gone to Waste

Purple hyacinths broadcast thirst: empty water droplets linger beside us. I materialize at the inn, beneath the severed heads of bucks to sip water standing up and watch pixilated ladies LOL and appear identical. I can’t tell myself apart any more than I might decipher how this town transmits me to me. There’s outside, and then there’s outside-outside: Saturday night at the reptile shop, the man beyond the Laundromat kicking a tree. These dreams aren’t even mine—I just idle in them. At the marketplace in the drunk of night, Dr. Doomsday’s demanding: are you lost or not? He means the opposite of friendship: he means economics. Just past midnight, I could beg a stranger home or hawk my crops, but I click myself into a tiny plot of rotting pumpkins only to identify the smooth, brown poverty as mine. A slab of river ends at my doorstep. No one I know knows how to move it.

 

Follow Avatar While Walking

Sky zeroed. The trees are bananas. I lose myself beneath them, pluck them up by the trunks and shift and shake them. My farm Population 0 and yet I somehow feel among the juniper trees my old heart beating. I scratch my initials into bark like a math problem: AF + AF + a white chalk heart around it. I’m nowhere to be found and it’s hushed here without me. I throw a cocktail party but don’t show up. I buy an above ground pool but the water surface freezes like a screen. I install a carousel, but the sun ruins the music and protest notes sour from green to brown in midair. Maybe I dipped my toe in the wishing well and fell again. Maybe I’m digging out from beneath something. Maybe I’m in the town square reaping late-night consolation. I wear my laptop like a locket: inside are pictures of myself in miniature. I’ve held ground against droughts, against crumbling acres, against gifts of hammers and roses from mysterious neighbors. I’ve stayed small against seasons. Now I’ve vanished myself against reason.

 


The Farmacist

 

 

_____________

Christopher Kang earned an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His short fiction and poetry have appeared in jubilat, Massachusetts Review, Gulf Coast, The L Magazine, Verse Daily, Cimarron Review, Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art, and Open City. He is currently a PhD student in English Literature at the University of California-Irvine.

 

Christopher Kang Website
Christopher Kang @ Facebook
‘The Looms’, by Christopher Kang
Christopher Kang @ Twitter
Buy ‘When He Sprang From His Bed, Staggered Backward, …’

 

Christopher Kang When He Sprang From His Bed, Staggered Backward, And Fell Dead, We Clung Together With Faint Hearts, And Mutely Questioned Each Other
Green Mountains Review Books

‘Christopher Kang’s extraordinary collection, WHEN HE SPRANG FROM HIS BED, STAGGERED BACKWARD, AND FELL DEAD, WE CLUNG TOGETHER WITH FAINT HEARTS, AND MUTELY QUESTIONED EACH OTHER, resists easy classification. A daring, remarkable book that challenges on every read. These 880 stories taken together form a kind of sly, wondrous narrative whole, full in equal measure of humor, sadness, and brilliance. Kang is an ambitious writer, and this book is an achievement. Each of these stories contains a world, tilted on its own axis, strange, remarkable and bursting with heart.’ — GMRB

‘Christopher Kang’s brilliant first book, a steady accretion of Robert Walserian feuilletons, filled me with such quick strobes of delight and confusion and dismay and envy that, in the end, I mostly felt vertigo. This book is sly; it contains its own contradictions. It is a searing indictment of artistic ambition while being nakedly ambitious; it is self-reflective without a steady self to reflect; it is simultaneously starkly clear and confounding; and its intelligence is often punctured by humor and sentiment and near-aphorisms that ring so quietly and personally that I often wanted to write them in permanent marker on my skin.’ — Lauren Groff

‘Christopher Kang’s work is mysterious, lovelorn, philosophical and often very amusing. Its lyricism is matched only by its daring. A remarkable book.’ — Lorrie Moore

 

Excerpts










 

 

 

________________

‘The fin de siècle period in Paris is marked by scandals and remarkable events: the Panama scandal, the Ravachol case, Dreyfus, the fire in the Bazar de la Charité, the world exhibition of 1900. This is also the Paris in which the Norman Paul Duval lived for more than twenty years. He became known in literary circles as Jean Lorrain. This illustrious figure, a ‘dandy de la perversité’ with a taste for sailors and dockworkers, never had his fill of creating scandals. He felt equally at home in unsavoury bars and in the salons, between debauchees, addicts, devil worshippers and spiritualists, and fashion enthusiasts. He wrote scandalous articles in several periodicals about his adventures, repeating these chronicles later in his narrative prose. His style was influenced by idols such as Barbey d’Aurevilly, Huysmans and the Goncourts and their ‘style artiste’.

‘In 1892, Lorrain travelled to Algeria and Tunisia via Spain. In that year, he also opted for a northbound route that took him to London and then onward to Amsterdam. Five years later, he used these experiences for his novel Monsieur de Bougrelon. This novel starts with an evocation of the water that seemed omnipresent in the Netherlands, especially in Amsterdam, ‘the Venice of the north’: ‘it is all water, and houses painted in black and white, full of windows, with sculpted pointed rooftops and lace curtains: black and white, reflected in the water.’ He celebrates the northern peoples in a minor key: ‘Dutch men, by the way, are rather ugly, and Dutch women resemble them.’

Monsieur de Bougrelon appeared in 1897, at the end of Lorrain’s life, and although it did bring him some degree of fame, there was something ambiguous about his position as journalist with artistic ambitions. He would never hesitate to use texts (even those of others) more than once. His novels were collages of articles and chronicles that had appeared previously. After his death, the Bougrelon story was published a few times in illustrated editions.’ — Koninklijke Bibliotheek

 

Jean Lorrain @ Wikipedia
‘Monsieur de Bougrelon’ @ {feuilleton}
A dandy in aspic
Jean Lorrain @ goodreads
Buy ‘Monsieur de Bougrelon’

 

Jean Lorrain Monsieur de Bougrelon
Spurl Editions

‘In Jean Lorrain’s Monsieur de Bougrelon, an eccentric, outmoded dandy leads ennui-filled French tourists around misty Amsterdam. Guiding them through sailors’ bars, whorehouses, and costume galleries, Monsieur de Bougrelon recounts hallucinatory stories of his past and delves into his “heroic friendship” with his aristocratic companion Monsieur de Mortimer.

‘Monsieur de Bougrelon is a unique character: loquacious, proud, a leftover from an earlier age, wearing garish outfits and makeup that drips. To his speechless audience, he waxes nostalgic about his life as an exile in Holland, as well as what he calls “imaginary pleasures” – obsessions with incongruous people, animals, and objects. These obsessions are often sexual or border on the sexual, leading to shocking, surreal scenes. Monsieur de Bougrelon also enthuses over his beautiful friend Monsieur de Mortimer, making this novella one of the rare works of the nineteenth century to broach homosexuality in a meaningful way, years before Jean Cocteau and Jean Genet.

‘Originally published in French in 1897, Monsieur de Bougrelon is now available in English translation for the first time. Its inventiveness and sheer Decadence find kindred spirits in the novels of Comte de Lautréamont, Joris-Karl Huysmans, and even Louis-Ferdinand Céline, while the novella’s indulgent language and unconventional vision of art and sex embody the best of fin-de-siècle literature. It is, in the novella’s own words, a true “boudoir of the dead.”’ — Spurl Editions

 

Excerpt

Amsterdam, it is always water and houses painted black and white, all windows, with sculpted gables and lace curtains; the black, the white splinter in the water. And so it is always water, dead water, iridescent water and gray water, alleys of water that do not end, canals guarded by dwellings like enormous dominos; it could be gloomy, and yet it is not sad, but eventually it is a bit monotonous, especially when the water freezes and the gelid pewter of the canals no longer reflects the small, pretty dollhouses, upside down with front steps high in the air.

There was a strong wind on the Amstel that day, a wind to sweep away the sweepers themselves. At the Dam, there was the spectacle (which we had already seen too many times) of the tram station and the crowds around it; of fur caps pulled down over violet ears, cabmen and drivers blossoming with rosacea, necks disappearing behind mufflers, and those strange little old men who, with eternal drops of frost on the ends of their red noses, hawk omnibus connections at the highest prices. But everyone needs to live, and the surprise of hearing dangüe for merci, and the surprise of gathering freezing snot from the back of their gloved hands is one of the pleasures of tourism in Amsterdam.

Oh, these people of the North! The Dutch man, by the way, is rather ugly, and the Dutch woman resembles him. Those old women in black velvet hats perched upon caps of lace, embellished at the temple with hemstitched medallions of gold, apparently work better in the old master paintings than they do in the streets. And the Zeedijk (the Rietdijk of Amsterdam) does not come to life until nighttime. As for the Nes – where good, shapely, strapping men, very blond and very pink, innocently approach you from dive bar entrances, their plump bodies bulging out of their long hotel porters’ cloaks and their faces radiant – it had lost its mystery for us: we had already visited it too many times as well. This is surely human ingratitude, because the Nes had so delighted us the first night!

We used to love those heavy doors that opened abruptly to reveal, behind a row of tables, a heap of flesh and spangles, raised like a dessert on a faraway, luminous platform. “Dames françaises! Come in, Messieurs, we speak French,” and this from the decent, chubby-cheeked giants, who bowed and smiled with full lips, but they were good, honest smiles, unknown in Paris; they did not release for a minute the doorkeeper’s ropes they held in their hands. Indeed, at every entrance on Nesstraat there was the same sudden appearance of nudity and dazzling fabrics, the same patriotic offer, dames françaises, and the same salute.

Oh, only French women on every Nes, from the Belgian fogs to the distant parts of Holland, they are in every region!

Oh! How we are happy to be French
When we travel to foreign lands.

Amsterdam’s red-light districts are relaxing and refresh the soul; there is a sense of geniality there that is unknown in the Latin countries, and these devilish exhibitors, these solid doorkeepers to hell, defuse malice with their good shiny faces and their good thick hands in fur gloves, looking like thoroughly honest major-domos under their gold-tasseled caps. But apparently we had seen too much of them.

Nes, Zeedijk, the Dam, and even the museum did not speak to us anymore; there are days like that in life. We wandered through the city like flotsam, along the frozen canals, hurrying around street corners, for the great wind, as I have already said, blew forcefully that day on the Amstel.

It was bone-chilling outside, savagely cold, and the many Schiedammers we had knocked back in every cellar on Kalverstraat had hardly perked us up – there are days like that in life too – and so we meandered under January’s north wind, pitiable and glum, when an odd sign captivated us: Café Manchester.

It was in one of those uniform black-and-white Amsterdam streets: a small old two-story dwelling, very low beneath an enormous roof that crowned it from its gable nearly to the first floor. The lodging seemed packed in on itself, as though squeezed underground, and we had to descend five steps to find the front door and the only window, hung with wide net curtains of taut guipure, which opened just above the ground; on the other levels there were small irregular dormer windows with closed shutters. Café Manchester! It had the look of a lantern. It even had a pulley at the top of its roof to raise supplies and furniture. What did they sell in this café? In this Café Manchester, where apparently they spoke French as well as English.

The cold was intense, the house dubious; we went inside.

 


Jean Lorrain *


Jean Lorrain – Monsieur de Bougrelon


Visionnaire – Jean Lorrain – Lacaze — Beethoven Piano Sonate n°14

 

 

_______________

Think back to when you started writing. What’s an earlier influence you outgrew, abandoned, or turned against?

Mat Laporte: I’m always abandoning. I don’t think my way of doing things is the “right” way; it’s just the best I could come up with at the moment. So pretty much everything I’ve tried I’ve abandoned for something different, or “better,” maybe?

When a piece of writing doesn’t work out, what do you do with it? Discard? Fold it into another project? Salvage parts?

ML: Save it for sure. “The Experimental Boy” poems, for example, are made up of fragments of things I’ve written, or found and other people have written or found, cut-up and re-deployed. My writing is almost never a flowing, continuous thing but an assemblage of disparate particles of things I gather and save. When I end up making something that is cohesive, complete or unbroken, I’m shocked and appalled. I’m interested, right now, in the idea of the ‘serial’ poem. What I like about it is the idea that each poem doesn’t have to be a polished thing, that the point is to move on to the next one, the sequence will have its own narrative thrust that will take even the person who wrote it by surprise. One of my models is Ted Berrigan and especially his work The Sonnets which can be thought of as using a method similar to Cubist art. Fragments from different perspectives are collaged and refracted into a new take on perspective, multiple perspectives, or no perspective? The serial work is always changing and surprising you, the one who is writing it. I like that.

Do you plan out the piece beforehand or find your way as you go along? A combination of both?

ML: “You just go on your nerve,” Frank O’Hara said. Even when it’s a “conceptual” piece, with a pre-planned concept, I have to hit the ground running immediately or it fails me and I don’t want to do it anymore. Nerve, always.

 

Mat Laporte @ Twitter
Mat Laporte: Three Poems
‘Time and Resources’
‘Rats Nest’ reviewed @ Unnerving
Buy ‘Rats Nest’

 

Mat Laporte Rats Nest
Book Thug

‘Mysterious and sometimes hallucinogenic, RATS NEST builds a narrative out of the complexity and dialectical uncertainty that many people feel about being alive in the 21st century.

‘This first full-length book by Mat Laporte introduces readers to a protoplasmic, fantastical underworld, as navigated by a self–reproducing 3D Printed Kid made especially for this purpose.

‘As the Kid descends the layers of a seemingly never-ending pit, its nightmares and hallucinations—recorded in stunning detail—unfold in twelve chilling chapters of unreality that will make readers think twice about what it means to be a human (or humanoid) on the planet we call home.’ — Book Thug

‘RATS NEST is a fragmented and extended transmission from ‘the world’s first 3D Printed Kid.’ It is a dissident, noir, cyberpunk diary that recalls the monotony of service/ office labour and projects that struggle onto the failed tropes of ‘what the future may hold.’ Here, the future is a recursive failure of both affinity and empathy, launched from the outer reaches of a space-time where both identity and narrative are in flux. This is a work that simultaneously calls to mind Ovid’s Metamorphosis and the prose of Philip K. Dick, both Alice Notley’s Descent of Alette and the riotous ‘cut-up’ novels of Kathy Acker. Has Mat Laporte eaten our dreams? Are these texts the cognitive–enteric-cybernetic remnants of a necessarily alienated posthumanity? ‘Bursting forth from the primordial/ id itself . a flickering/non–linear flood of fact and sensory data,’ Laporte has engendered for us an austere and gorgeous horror.’ — Liz Howard

 

Excerpt





 


Mat Laporte’s: Dance With Me Vendetta


| December Book Haul |

 

*

p.s. Hey. ** H, Thank you! ** Jonathan, Thanks, man. Finishing stuff for a show is always the best reason. Outputting art over inputting it forever. Damn that you’l miss Eileen. Man, she is everywhere. She just wished me happy birthday from the campus of my brief university Pitzer in Pomona, West Coast. I’ll go hear that Mary Ocher track. I should try the recent Jóhann Jóhannsson stuff. I got kind of bored of him at one point. I had not seen that video, and now I’ve seen the still-ish first few seconds, and I will return to unpack it when I get out of here. Ooh, writing by you. That will have first dibs on my unpacking abilities, obviously. Cool. Everyone, hit this link and go read ‘Going Dark’, a piece by the artist of sublimity Jonathan Mayhew, why don’t you? Cool, bud! ** New Juche, Ah, you’re back in ‘civilization’ with all its ups and vaunted downs. Welcome back. France does love lots and lots of paperwork, that’s for sure. Nope, I’m still a tourist who has extremely overstayed his welcome. But I do very much need to get some kind of residency status asap, especially given that whatever this year’s election outcome, the country will be swinging to the right, and the borders may not be as laissez faire even for Americans. But, of course, the paperwork and stuff re: getting French residency status is a big reason why I’ve been procrastinating. Sounds quite tough down in Thailand too. Thanks for the good words about my thing about Bresson, man. ** James Nulick, Thank you! Happy my Birthday to you! My birthday was nice. Zac made me cold sesame noodle, which is my favorite food if not even my favorite thing in the world, and we walked around the Marais and looked at gallery art — show about Duchamp’s Bottle Rack (good), 80s period Rauschenberg (meh), Omer Fast (bad), Gordon Matta-Clark drawings and films (great) — then we met up with Michael and Bene at Hard Rock Cafe where I stuffed myself sick with nachos and M&B gave me the new book of Bresson interviews, and then I came home and looked at my gazillion happy birthday wishes on Facebook. So it was good. My piece about Bresson is from both of those books. The sleepover still is from ‘The Devil, Probably’. The kids on the swing is I think from ‘Mouchette’. Jesus Christ, only one Bresson?! Well, ‘The Devil, Probably’ is my all-time favorite film so obviously I recommend that. But you can not go wrong in the slightest with any Bresson film, although I would save his earliest two — ‘Les dames du Bois de Boulogne’ and ‘Les anges du péché’ — for last because he wasn’t really fully Bresson yet when he made those. The song stuck in my head this morning is ‘Dunce Codex’ by Robert Pollard. On those terms you mention, the French don’t like silence either. Love back. ** David Ehrenstein, Thank you, Mr. E! Cherish your copy of ‘Antoine Monnier’ away from the eyes of the rest of the world please, ha ha. As I think I’ve mentioned, I was supposed to meet Humbert Balsam courtesy of my French publisher about a week before he died, but he cancelled. ** Tosh Berman, Thank you, Tosh! Yes, I was just given that book of Bresson interviews as a birthday gift yesterday! ** Steevee, Well, no Bresson film, but Zac made me cold sesame noodle, and I ate quite decent nachos last night. So not bad, not bad. Great, I really look forward to seeing ‘I Am Not Your Negro’. I saw a clip from it, and it looks really great. ** MANCY, Hi, man. Did you watch ‘Lancelot du Lac’? That’s my second favorite Bresson film. Cool, with synths. That’s exciting. Where are you in the process of making what you’re making? ** Montse, Hi, Montse! I did like that tumblr. It’s rich. Yeah, the Catholic wing of the far right are emboldened and starting to call for censorship left and right. With little success so far, thank goodness, but with the inevitable swing rightwards by the next government, I don’t know what will happen. Oh, I told James up above what I did on my b’day. It was quite nice. I was and am satisfied that my most recent benchmark in the somewhat unpleasant aging process was marked successfully. I didn’t have a cake, but I had more nachos than my stomach knew what to do with. Did you find out info about the animal shelter volunteering thing? Have a lovely day!!! ** Dóra Grőber, Hi! Thank you for your birthday happiness generating! Yeah, tell me how the new ‘Trainspotting’ is, and I’ll keep an open mind until then. It’s a very good day that ends up with coziness. Yeah, I think that’s inarguable? I told Mr. Nulick up above what happened on my birthday. It was nice. And it’s not over yet because today I get to dig into the cold sesame noodle that Zac made for me. It’s my extremely favorite thing to eat in the world and a very rare treat over here in Paris. How did you spend your today? ** Frank Jaffe, Hi, Frank! How great to see you! Awesome of you to come on in here. A ‘mine or yours’ favorite Bresson day? Don’t tempt me, man, ha ha. I hope everything is really, really great with you and yours! Love, me. ** Jamie, You’re back! Hey there, buddy! Did you have really excellent holidays? Oh, wait, you fucked your back up, shit! You may already know that I’ve had a shitty back since I was young and grew too fast, permanently making my back a recurring problem, so I’m ultra-sympathetic to back pain. In fact I’m just coming out one of my rebelling back problems right now. I’m doing great. Yeah, the decision on the TV series keeps getting delayed, and it’s driving us a bit crazy even though we keep being told how into the project ARTE is. Hopefully soon, but, yeah, it’s very annoying. Anyway, really great to have you back, my friend. I look forward to ongoing adventure- and art-related sharing. Big love, me. ** Jeff J, Thanks, Jeff. I wonder what the fuck is up with the long, long promised ‘Four Nights of a Dreamer’ restoration and release. Supposedly all the rights were secured and everything is green lit, but they’ve been saying that for about eight years now. I haven’t seen the official video for the XX song — ‘Wondering’ — if there is one, but, yeah, I think it’s a pretty safe bet based on the reason our video was rejected that it will be pretty expectable clip. How did you like ‘Silence’? Early Bernhard novellas? You mean the ‘Three Novellas’ book? Oh, they’re great, but to say they’re superior to his later novels seems like pushing it a bit. Certainly well worth reading if you love Bernhard. ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi, Ben. Thanks, bud. Yeah, Bresson is definitely not what everyone wants films to be. Oh, that sounds promising re: the V&A. ** Nick Toti, Hi, Nick. Oh, my great pleasure, and thank you for the birthday wish. Well, thank you for wanting to write that piece on my gif novels in any case. That would be amazing, and I’m honored by your interest alone. Take care. ** Paul Curran, Hi, Paul! Greetings from pretty much halfway (or close) around the world. Yes, I think I’ll take the Mt. Fuji-sized mound of coke maybe, if I have a choice. Thanks! I too have a very positive feeling about 2017, albeit on the art and personal levels only. Mega love right back at ya! Oh, and your kid is so fucking cool and awesome. ** Ferdinand, Thank you, F. I look forward to your first 2017 poem. Short is good. A French visa? Yep, they are a dogged thing to apply for and be rewarded with, that’s for sure. ** Chris dankland, Hi, Chris! Thanks for the happiness! Nachos and Bresson. Wow that is a very odd combination right there, but it could work! Yeah, def., about ‘Balthazar’. Obviously I love that it did that to you. When Bresson does big things to people, I feel a soulmate kind of thing happening with those people. And thank you being so kind, Chris, and writing what you did. That makes me very happy, and, yeah, just thank you a lot. And don’t underestimate the impact of our friendship and thought/ideas sharing on my end too. Love, me. ** Ken Baumann, Ken!!!!! Just last night when Michael, Bene, Zac and I were celebrating my b’day at Hard Rock Cafe we were talking about you and remembering when the former two and I ate dinner there with you and you ordered half the menu. I’m real good, man, and I think I can say that Z is as well. It sounds like things are great with you over there. I’m dedicatedly and happily following what I can via ‘good’ old Facebook. Oh, wow, Aviva’s jewelry looks great! I can’t seen them before. Give her my respect and love re: that re: everything. You guys will be in Paris! Holy moly, at long last! Do you know when in March? Zac and I will be getting ready to shoot our new film in early April, but we should be here most of the time, and I can not wait to see you! That’s splendiferous news! Lots of love from me! ** Bernard, Hi, B! Thank you ever so much! And I finally read your great review of ‘LCTG’ on Amazon. As did Zac. We are very happy and honored. And, wow, I hadn’t looked at the film’s Amazon page before, and there are some seriously Trumpian bad reviews there. So that was fun too. Oh, … what the heck … Everyone, the great Bernard Welt wrote a really smart and nice review of ‘Like Cattle Towards Glow’ on Amazon, and risking self-horn tooting, here’s a link where you can read it if you like.. Love and yet more thanks! ** Matt Black, Hi, Matt. Thanks a bunch, and that is a really pretty and intriguing thing you wrote there for which I express my sincerest gratitude. Have a fine Wednesday. ** Sypha, Thanks a lot, James. ** Misanthrope, Thanks, George, and I hope the busyness and tiredness gets the fuck off your lawn on this very day! ** xTx, Hey!!!!! Yay, it’s so awesome to see you! Thank you, thank you, and happy birthday to my date brother i.e. your dad! How are you? I miss you! Lots of love, Dennis. ** Cal Graves, Hi, Cal! A sight for are eyes, you are! Thank you very much! How are you, and what’s going on with you? ** Bill, Hi, Bill. Thanks for wishing me the good birthday. No, I’ve certainly read/heard a lot about ‘Mr. Robot’, but that’s far as it’s gone. I’ll peek at it, at the very least, by whatever means I can find. ** Okay. Up there are four books I loved of late that I’m passing along to you as recommendations. You know what to do. See you tomorrow.

14 Comments

  1. Good morning Dennis:

    A lovely book day — Jean Lorrain’s book Monsieur de Bougrelon in particular looks so precious to me. This translation came out in 2016?! Wanting to read it today and I will. (One great thing to be in New York! And winter break!) Not that it suddenly emerged lately, but my obsession into French decadence and dandyism has been growing intense with opportune details. So glad it’s finally translated. Do you like other books as well by him?

    I couldn’t view Ashbery collage exhibition yet, but I’m going soon. For his poems, I prefer his early work for its more bleak tone and disengaging manner. So I’m not sure I would like this one said ‘new collage.’ Some of pieces I saw were delightfully whimsical and suggestive with homoerotic icons.

  2. Hi Dennis!

    Sounds like your birthday festivities went pretty great, I’m glad. How cool that Zac made you your favorite food and that you also hung out with Michael and Benedetta. Yes! I found a shelter relatively near to where I live. I can get there with public transport, which is a plus for me. So now I should fill in the application form. Thank you for today’s post, I always look forward to your book recommendations. ‘The Farmacist’ looks enticing. Hope you have a great Wednesday!

    Love,

  3. Hi!

    Thank you for today’s book recommendations!

    I’m glad your birthday was so eventful and great! I don’t think I’ve ever eaten cold sesame noodles and now I feel like I’m missing out on something!
    I’m proud and happy to say that I got my psychology degree today! It feels really weird, I mean to be a ‘professional’ – at least on paper!
    How was your day? I do hope it was all kinds of awesome!

  4. Book recommendation day is the best day! And oddly enough, I purchased Monsieur de Bougrelon the other day. That press seems very very interesting. And for sure, I’m going to check on the other titles/writers on today’s list. Excellent!

  5. Hey Dennis, sorry for my brief reply yesterday… wanted to say more, but wasn’t in the right headspace for it (namely because one of my cats, incidentally named Cooper, has fallen ill). But I did at least want to wish you happy birthday, so…

    Glad you’ve finally got around to reading some Jean Lorrain. You probably recall that I’ve hyped him up often on here… he’s one of my favorite French Decadent writers. I haven’t read this book of his that you mention yet but I plan on getting to it this year. A few days ago at work we got in the new Penguin Classics translation of De Sade’s “120 Days” and I hope to get to that soon as well.

  6. He wasn’t completely Bresson when he made “Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne” but it’s a phenomenal film nonetheless. Very influential not only on Demy (who makes explicit reference to it through his characters in “Lola”) but Rivette as well — particularly in “Duelle.”

    As I’m sure I’ve mentioned previous, Jonathan Rosenbaum discovered that when he was young Bresson (being among other things drop-dead-gorgeous) was a gigolo — thus making “Les Dames” an apologia pro vita sua of sorts. When Maria Casares found out about this she “moved” on Bresson the way far-too-sophisticated women do on gay men they take a fancy to. She wanted him to be “Will” to her “Grace.” Bresson would have none of it and vowed to refrain from working with professional actors altogether. There are a few in “Dairy of a Cuuntry Priest” but by the time he had his style down pat with “A Man Escaped” he cast it entirely with “models.”

  7. The Australian critic Adrian Martin made a rather strange post on FB today. He said that he felt the positive consensus on Bresson was unproductive and asked for intelligent critique of Bresson’s work. Someone chimed in to say it was “politically dangerous.” I find the idea that everyone loves Bresson a bit silly, actually. Critics and cinephiles are not the entire world; we’re a rather small, self-selected audience, and if you re-released LANCELOT DU LAC to American multiplexes with $20 million in marketing, you would wind up with some mighty baffled audiences. I remember Mike D’Angelo saying similar things about Maurice Pialat on the occasion of a Pialat retrospective at Lincoln Center, but if anything, Pialat’s audience was even smaller and the stretch when he was almost unknown in the U.S. longer. His final film, LE GARCU, still hasn’t been released here.

  8. Everyone DOESN’T love Bresson. But I have yet to read an intelligent critique of Bresson — one that didn’t claim he was worthless because he wasn’t Michael Curtiz .

    Latest FaBlog: Dressing Down

  9. Dennis!

    Glad you dug Ashley’s book.

    We’ll be there in mid-March. Not totally certain on the dates yet, because we have to figure out how long we wanna stopover in Iceland. I’ll let you three know as soon as we’re certain.

    Glad to hear that all is well and that you’ll be prepping the next film. Exciting!

    Passed word on to Aviva. She’s very very honored. Thank you.

    Yrs,
    Ken

  10. When I saw that Lorrain blurb I thought it would be right up Sypha’s street… well lo and behold it is, too! But I need a copy for myself as I’ve long had a fondness for all that fin de siecle goodness.

    January is usually the month I spend waiting for releases due later in the year: the Cosey Fanni Tutti book in April, the East Wall reissues forthcoming on Dark Entries records etc, but today’s list provides stimulation to tide me over, so thank you.

  11. Bonjour Dennis! It’s nice to be back, I have to say. Even with the messed up back, I did have some pretty enjoyable holiday time. It’s funny in Brussels, at family events, with everyone chatting away in Dutch and me not understanding a word of it. I kind of enjoy it.
    I hope that you’re back is one the mend, man. It can be quite disruptive, eh? I couldn’t sit, stand or lie down without a lot of pain and really strong, dopey painkillers are fun for about a day and then it’s a bit much. I was given a Xmas gift of a couple of visits to see an osteopath. Have you ever used one? One of my friends absolutely swears by it. First appointment is Thursday night, so I’ll let you know how it goes.
    Dang annoying about the TV folks, non? If they say yes, when will it go into production? Man, I really want to see it, way more than Twin Peaks 2.0 or whatever.
    What else is new? You got Thursday plans? I’m going to do some writing for Saturday’s Writing Gang meeting then osteopath then fish and chips by the sea. That sounds like a good day, right? Hope you’re up to something splendid.
    I was thinking earlier that these Four Books… posts are kind of my favourites on the blog. Does that make me square? Don’t get me wrong, I generally dig everything around here a lot, but I really love the simple book posts. I think I’m going to buy The Farmacist, as it sounds great.
    Okay, the sweetest of Thursdays to you.
    Lots of love,
    Jamie

  12. hi and happy belated dennis!

    i’m with tosh, book day is always the one where i end up a little bit lighter in the wallet the next day…

    i did end up making it to the cate blanchett piece, and i must admit that i liked it a lot. part of that likely had to do with the armory itself–it’s hard for me to dislike anything in that space. the bar event at the friar’s club was a trip. lots of very wealthy people, lots of booze…the poor caterer caught a lot of heat for starting the buffet too early. it’s funny the things that people end up caring about during things like that. i always end up spending my entire day doing the work around the gig and then the night actually tending bar so yesterday and today were both a little fuzzy.

    i don’t know if i ever mentioned this, i read to steve cannon (the founder of Tribes) twice a week, once on monday’s and once on thursday’s (he’s blind). i had been talking his ear off about your novels and we finally cracked into my loose thread on monday. he’s really enjoying it so far.

    glad to hear your birthday was so wonderful, you deserve nothing less!

    Bear

  13. Dennis,

    Glad to see you had a nice birthday.
    I’ll dig into these books–you have a very interesting taste in lit. and I’ve never been seered wrong by your recs.
    I’ve been good: hopping from project to project, Im putting together a chapbook, trying to get a novel finished, same old school and work.

    Have you heard of Ambiencé? The 720 hour movie coming out 2020? I watched the trailer recently. It’s really good–mindnumbing and ungodly slow, but good and fun.

  14. Much relieved that you liked my note on Amazon, as it would have been a disappointment to me if you felt I was getting it all wrong or I underserved you, so . . . WHEW! Maybe I can think of a way to jump off from that outline to something in some real place, that would be “What I Like in Films and Think We all Like Whether We Know It or Not and Why LCTG Is Good At It; or The Most Famous Film You Have Not Yet Heard Of”–because that’s how gawkers and buzzfeeds, etc, talk.
    And to think that you read it on your birthday! How great is that.
    I am in New York and you know, I like it much better than America.
    Saw “Elle” yesterday and was glad I did.
    Tonight I was at this reading at Judson Church called “Dead Darlings” where people read things they wrote that failed in one way or another, and it was very good, especially a young man named Isaac Oliver who read his first piece ever for the NYTimes, a report on hopping about NYC on New Year’s Eve, with all the cuts the Times made him do, which was hilarious. And Rick Herron, whom you will remember from the desk of the New Museum, read his initial draft of his catalog essay for this show he recently did, “Mentors,” At CF HILL in Stockholm, which I was kind of a mentor for, and the initial draft was very touching and emotional but not working as a means of identifying and introducing the show, and he redid it effectively, but reading the draft as a text for performance tonight, it KILLED–like, not a dry eye. So that was extremely great, because Rick is great, and now I know he’s a pretty great performer; and there ensued some interesting conversation about what happens when you write a text for performance, and then it is read with expectations for text to be read in a book.
    So there you are.

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