The blog of author Dennis Cooper

4 books I read recently & loved: Katie Jean Shinkle Ruination, Troy James Weaver Temporal, Ariana Reines Telephone, Harry Mathews The Solitary Twin



‘Anna’s boyfriend got his head blown off over five dollars.

‘We walk along the bridge where it happened, carrying a two-liter filled to the brim with various parts of our collective mother’s liquor cabinets. We swig and sway, we pass it along as if it were a secret, each pulling a cheek full, swishing it around, gulping loudly. We wipe our mouths on our arms. We do not say a word.

‘We walk along the same bridge where that one girl’s tit fell out of her shirt, where the boys threw her trapper-keeper homework in the river. We remember the way the girl looked at us crookedly, as if to say she didn’t want to go with the boys that afternoon or that maybe she did and didn’t understand why we were interrupting their go-ahead, their green light.

‘Across the bridge, down the street, is the church filled to the brim with blubbering people trying to forfeit their denial for a piece of understanding. We will all die here the brick building suggests, we will all end up this way. We hang back across the street, lingering, pulling weeds from the edge of the street the way we saw men on the side of the highway do, their green reflectors on the backs of their knees glowing in the headlights at dusk. They are always unshaven.

‘Anna’s boyfriend’s head fell apart like the Zapruder film, one piece slid backwards, one piece look liked it splayed across his girlfriend’s dress. If we could play the thirty seconds over and over again, we would see he was smiling and the blood didn’t come for a breath. His girlfriend would look like she was in the moment between laughter and tears and if the moment was on mute, we wouldn’t know the difference. Here is a mouth wide open and filled with future—a tooth for each year of life, a tooth for each child birthed to term, birthed at all.’ — Katie Jean Shinkle


katie jean
Katie Jean Shinkle @ goodreads
KJS @ zoran rosko vacuum player
Buy ‘Ruination’


Katie Jean Shinkle Ruination
Spuyten Duyvil

‘Katie Jean Shinkle is our new master writer of the nightmare. In Ruination she has created a classic world of infestation and prophets and terrorist sisters. It’s a world where girls are sent to eradication centers for sprouting flowers and mushrooms and forsythia bushes from their skin. The prose is tender and bold and sharp. If you were to carve the initials of this book on your knee, you would have to spell one word: amazing.’ — Scott McClanahan


Darkness, and then. Rolling weather: a superstorm in-wait. Four clouds exactly alike, black outline as if spiral on paper. Stratus or cirrus. Paredolia in theory: what becomes a creature of wing in sky, what becomes one blink signal or two, what becomes the shape of genitals. If we take our shoes off, put them behind our heads, can we stay like this forever, pointing at creatures and penises, the largest span of blackbird ever seen?

Can we begin in the war of this country in the summer of us?
Paula, Allison, Callie & I all wear black swimming caps, swim in syncopation, a rising chorus of legs, arm-in-arm, splash.
Before the weather, before the war, us four girls would huddle around the computer and watch videos of syncopated swimming routines. We would lie face down in the carpet and emulate. We would begin to touch each other, first on the legs and then up under the shorts, the mesh entangling with our chipped gel manicures. The videos shift from film clips of Esther Williams to porn clips with titles like “She takes it real good 2” and “Busty Brazilian Luvs Anal.” The touching of the butts would lead to flashing breasts, comparing, poking at Paula’s because they were slightly pancakey, wobbly.

All the light of day is muted by fog, blocking the summer sun, no matter the time. The only light for miles at night comes from The Prophet’s tent. Holy, holy, holy, God Almighty, Blessed trinity. God in Three Persons. The only thing I believe in is the Holy Spirit because I have seen it. I have seen it when my father puts on a lacy dress and a choke chain and high heels and walks around the house like the queen of the world. Miles of corn and soybeans and my father in a chevron skirt and lashes so long. I have seen the transformation alight on his face, when my father is in women’s clothing he is the closest he will ever be to God, I tell Paula.
My father says he feels at home in women’s clothing but doesn’t want to be a woman. He says it has been a secret for so long, he doesn’t even know how talk about it. He is glad he can do it with me, though, at home, he says, my mother would never stand for it. She had only seen him dressed twice and she freaked out. How dare he? she said. But he wasn’t doing anything but expressing himself. Something she never understood about anyone, not me, not him.

The superstorm: we prepare in the following ways: catching rain in the cups of our goblet-hands, laced with gold lame. We put our goblet-hands under the muted fog and save a cache of rainbow spectrum for later. Our hands become hammers and we board up the windows, nails falling from the trees like fruits. We write in spray paint on the sides of the house in claimant fashion, we predict the outcome. The colors of paint: the numbers and symbols translated on the sides and doors of the houses: one alive, two dead, dog in here, zero crossed out one crossed out two crossed out three, please HELP. Paula and I huddle in the basement behind a twin mattress. My father is in Central City. We will not know Central City no longer exists for a while yet. The sky turns grey to green to greener than I have ever seen.

After, in-between, preceding, prolouging, eulogizing, the superstorm is here. Instructions: go to a safe place, if one exists at all in the world. Cover your head with. Don’t leave. Don’t stay. Don’t drive. Don’t be frozen adjacent to your largest window. At least you have a window. Emergency Broadcast System: this is only a test of your circulatory system, of your life force thumping against the middle of your forehead. The sky of my heart is a bottle shimmering, the color of beach glass. Ecstatic noise and then not. What angels. How the sky parts the muted sun.

The temperature goes from 80 degrees to 35 in a matter of one hour. Air made of inescapable wet humidity. Paula and I watch the mini-swirled cyclones skipping around each other, twisting at the base like two heads of the same monster, tunneling and dying.
Threatening and ominous weather, clouds like mushrooms, more a rolling dough, dribbling out, leak and smear of sky, streaks of what will stay in the stratosphere and troposphere, it is July and freezing.

Before the electricity is restored, Paula and I pull the mattress out onto the lawn and lay next to each other as it rains. Our hands are soft feathers, caressing, and I am touching her hips, stomach, tracing the outline of the beetle tattoo, I am down above her underwear line but not over it. The mattress starts stinking from the moisture, and it feels as if there is no one else in the entire world but us. Every time we kiss, her long dark hair gets into my mouth. We pull and push each other and it gets so rough that eventually she lands in the muddy lawn. We laugh until we realize every single lawn is flooded, the street below is waist-high water, everything washed out, cars floating and hitting the sides of trees, everyone evacuated but us. Houses plucked, gone like rotten eyeteeth. That’s how weather is, it can’t be trusted. (Confirmed: Central City is no longer a place. Central City is wiped off the map.

It begins with an unliftable fog. It enters, blocks the sun, frost and snow, kills everything.
The Men talk of crops. The Men talk of the unlifted fog. The Men talk of 1816, the year of No Summer, the devastation. From here to the UK and back again, The Men say, famine. The Men talk of war, how in the middle of the summerwinter aftermath all women must ship out, sail out, fly out, drive out, get out, go. Fight for our freedom. The Men talk of the first folded flag to be delivered by hand to a husband already, and the first batch of women were just sent. The Men talk of death and how swift it comes, the grief of having to raise children alone. The Men take off their snapback trucker hats and roll the bills in their scarred hands. The Men fret over food and children, fret over the flowers that they have all seen but will not speak of out loud yet. The Men talk of going elsewhere, to Atlanta or New Orleans, or to Ohio, Iowa, as far west as Missouri, maybe even Colorado, who knows. You be gettin’ into the Wild West now, son, one says to the other and The Men laugh. Anything with the word wild is scary. When The Men are scared, they resort to violence. Violence against the potential wild. So maybe not Colorado, or anywhere further. The Men talk of their daughter’s synchronized swimming practices, will they still be able to compete if it is so cold? The Men speak of frost, and then of snow, in July, August. The Men are scared of snow, of fog not dissipated, of a rebuild, of where Central City has gone to, of all of the deaths and destruction and now the women are gone and now the flowers are appearing. The Men don’t cry, so they hit their bodies with their own fists, waiting for someone else to hit. The Year of No Summer. The Oldest Men talk of the year 1816, the year of no summer. Volcanic winter. 1816 a fog like ours. Radioactive fog, one man says and the other says no, volcanoes are not radioactive.

The prophet stands before the lean congregation in the heavy, canvas, revival tent, leftovers from a circus fire a town over, charred at the top where a flag should be undulating. Instead, a burnt-out hole. Everyone cold and sweating.
God has sent us, he tilts. Alleluia, Hallelujah, Amen. Brothers! the Prophet says, this summerwinter is a gift from God. Two men take their pork pie hats off and hold them to their chests by their tops, they watch the rain of ash from above.
The Prophet laughs. Brothers! Our women have gone to war. Tell me how you will be a man in their absence! Brothers! We are men of the highest order. We must protect our homeland, our nation, one nation under God, remember, he laughs again into the microphone, but this time it is high pitched and nasally and makes my father uncomfortable.

My father joins the relief effort because that’s what he thinks he needs to do. He spends his days hauling trees off of houses and rescuing dogs. I watch him across the street one day shaking a chainsaw in a direction while talking because he can’t seem to stop talking with his hands. He is talking to a national guard, an 18 year old with an automatic weapon tied to his back, gesturing with the chainsaw and making the kid nervous. The kid looks so small compared to my father, who is a massive conglomeration of chest and shoulders and neck and arms. He revvs the chainsaw and stops talking to the kid, who still looks confused. When he bends over, I can see the lacy ruffle top of his pink striped underwear.

Paula says the real enemy, the real terrorist, is time. A wall of clocks all set incorrectly. Late summer and snow. One meteor length, far and wide. Sideshow, in a specimen jar, bell box. Lift for cake. Lift for sick sweet of rotten coconut, a jelly filling. Our hands against the glass and panting. Shelves of missing. One dough arm, one severed gingersnap head. Forgotten buttons down an abdomen never covered, black with burn and crisp of flame. Rush, and smash a window. The children take lead bats to the framework. Blast of weather, and then silence. Blast, and then a light ash film smog on everything. Make a peace sign in the window with your finger. Someone else writes fuck your mom underneath it.

And fuck your mom might be right. As of today, the last of the mothers are relinquished, and moved at once. Lines of ponytails marching one step two step, stomp, stomp. A solider, as big as a 10 year old, told our father our mother must go. No choices. In the ghostly hours, our mother still hangs in the air, too, a black spirit on the corner of the wall, talons out to claw the nautical themed wallpaper. She moves fast, backwards and forwards, over the fridge and the kitchen counters, we watch her sizzle her tongue against father’s ear and he scratches and bats as if something inside is attempting escape. All the mothers are presently at war, conscription.


The Arson People #1

The Arson People #2

Arson People #3





Temporal revolves around three best friends, rotating between each of their perspectives. Aaron has catfished another boy and texts him when he’s feeling down or unwanted. Cody’s mom has recently left his dad, so he spends most his time getting as high as possible, relying on his friends to keep him out of trouble. Samantha fought off an advance from Cody’s dad and isn’t sure how to go about explaining her situation to her friends. Through all of this, they are looking for the next party. They are trying to navigate the summer before they all move on from school or their city. Temporal is a book of quiet moments but reveals how important even the mundane can be.

‘There are dramatic moments in Temporal, but never any that feel sensational. Weaver writes in a matter-of-fact tone that helps keep the story grounded. These are characters I’ve interacted with in my life. Hell, these three are acquaintances of mine who like to sit in basements getting high and listening to music. I know these people. So, when I started reading Temporal, I had an immediate connection to them. These are characters I’m rooting for because they could be making better decisions, but the life laid out in front of them makes it too easy to choose differently. Weaver isn’t writing in a way to condemn or condone their behavior, rather he’s putting down their story without bias and letting the reader decide how to feel about them.

Temporal is a read-in-one-sitting kind of a book. The shifting POV from chapter to chapter could be confusing at times, but Weaver puts in subtle hints so that within the first paragraph you know whose head you’re inside of. Temporal is a master class in minimalism and allowing the characters in the story to move the plot forward in an organic and satisfying way. This is Weaver’s fourth book, and with each one his prose is getting a little tighter and a little sharper. I’ve been a fan from the start, but he’s starting to reveal himself as someone who has longevity in a writing career. Even now, holding Temporal in my lap, I can’t wait to read what he has coming next.’ — Joseph Edwin Haeger, The Big Smoke


Troy James Weaver @ Twitter
A Review of Troy James Weaver’s “Temporal”
excerpt of ‘Temporal’
Buy ‘Temporal’


Troy James Weaver Temporal
Disorder Press

‘Set to a shoegaze soundtrack, Troy James Weaver’s Temporal is the story of one tumultuous summer in the lives of three teenagers in Wichita, KS.’ — Disorder Press

Temporal is a novel painted with the blood of damaged, disaffected teenagers. Imagine S.E. Hinton if she listened to Sonic Youth. With each new book Troy James Weaver writes, he’s creating more of an impressive landscape of American gloom and melancholy. But he’s also able to highlight an elusive beauty in the life struggles of his characters.’ — Kevin Sampsell



Aaron called and told me about Cody’s behavior at the party, and, to be quite honest, I was stunned. Cody had always been more respectful to people than that. But we both knew he’d changed, it was undeniable. I mean that’s what this is all about, isn’t it?

Cody picked me up and took me out to lunch. Nothing fancy, just Taco Bell. We sat in a booth there, talking about his newfangled behavior.

“Look,” he said. “I’m sorry, I didn’t know what I was doing.”

I shook my head, said, “I know. I guess that’s why it’s so fucked up. You don’t even remember doing anything.”

“Far as I’m concerned, if I don’t remember, it didn’t happen.”

“That’s bullshit,” I said. “You know that.”

He shook his head, “Yeah, I know. I don’t know, I’m just going through a rough patch. Things’ll get better. I’m working on it.”

I nodded, things went silent. We listened to people ordering their food.

Then I said, “Cody. Can I tell you something? It’s a secret, and I, I don’t want you to get mad at me, but I…”

He grabbed my hands, burritos between us, and said, “Shit, Sam, you can tell me anything.”

I looked at him, all of him, and knew he was telling the truth, that he wouldn’t judge me, if that’s what you’d even call it, if I came out with all of it and told him about his dad’s sorry fucking behavior, but instead, I shook my head, and said, “No, I can’t. I’ll tell you, just not now. I can’t. Sorry.” And that was it. I was scared of everything and nothing at all, felt like I was living inside a cage inside myself inside a hole inside the earth.

I wasn’t aware until much later that Aaron had had a similar talk with Cody. Apparently they didn’t do anything, these talks.

That was a week before all the other shit happened, if you could believe it, I still don’t, even when I’m right there, with that thick fucking glass between us, and I feel like screaming Why didn’t you listen to me? I was in so much pain.



Took me a few weeks to hang on to the hundred bucks I needed, but as soon as I had it I went back to Duffy’s place and smoked weed with him for a bit, then told him I wanted to give it a try, you know, with the kid. He leaned in close and said, “Hundred bucks, one hour. Anything you want.”

I handed him the bill and went into the kid’s bedroom. The kid was just sitting on his bed, playing with a doll. The light was dim. I sat down beside him and brushed the hair out of his eyes. He looked like a ghost just back from war, had a look in his eyes, something I imagine we’d wanted from our visit to Stull. Something I never want to see again. There was nothing in there, big eyes like drained pools. He was a shell. I put him on his back on the bed. He didn’t even try to fight it. I put him on his back on his bed and slid the pillow over his face. It was stained yellow with grease. It didn’t take long and he didn’t fight it. When he went limp, he looked less vacant, relieved, filled with light. I crossed his arms over his chest, put his head on the pillow, made my way out the window, and immediately drove to the nearest police station to turn myself in.

There were clouds. There was a sidewalk. There was a pole. There was grass. There was a flower. Then there was me. I was alive. I was so alive I looked up at the sun and knew it couldn’t blind me. It peeked through dark clouds forming. And as I stood there, ready to turn it all over, I thought: There is only us. Then the sky boomed, gurgled, cracked itself open, and down came a weeping of rain. The clouds weren’t crying for me, they were crying for all of us—cleaning the streets, making a rainbow—the loudest fucking silence I’ve ever heard.



Novel Night at Malvern Books with Troy James Weaver & Drew Hayes 10/8/2015

Troy James Weaver: The Continental Review





‘There are phone lines to the living and others for calling the dead. TELEPHONE by Ariana Reines is a network for riveting acts of speech, and silence, and listening. I saw the play and never forgot it. The audience was lit like a switchboard by its storms of courage and mystical love.’ — Rachel Kushner

‘TELEPHONE is an uncanny parcel of theater in which the wishes of humans to speak with the dead meet the limits or the aspirations of technology. A woman wrapped in language is deemed insane and the lonely pastness of our present walks around calling for itself. TELEPHONE is a whild and visionary piece of art that announced to me a poet who is always tearing the future open like a trapped animal—their eyes reflect us. Don’t look! We mus. Bless you and love you Ariana for this great work.’ — Eileen Myles

‘I have been WAITING FOR THIS BOOK! When I saw it in the theater every word motion fell into magic stride utterly taxing the soul with its accuracy and mystery. The next night I was at the box office with a different friend and needed to return to my job is the only thing that kept me from the theater a third night. Examine for yourself the bewitching and sometimes misshapen communicative powers of life with the poetry goddess of the stage, Ariana Reines!’ — CA Conrad

‘TELEPHONE, the inspired and utterly original new tone poem of a play, probes feelings with the sensitivity and detachment of a heart surgeon.’ — Ben Brantley, The New York Times


Lazy Eye Haver
Ben Lerner & Ariana Reines
Buy ‘Telephone’


Ariana Reines Telephone

‘What are those distant, garbled voices on the line? What is the significance of that wavery technological hum that bears an alarming resemblance to heavy breathing? In such moments it feels as if there’s nothing lonelier than being alone on a phone. Reach out and touch someone? Ha.

Telephone is a theatrical triptych inspired by Avital Ronell’s The Telephone Book, an epic work that draws upon history, philosophy, psychoanalysis and literature to explore the nature of communication in the age of technology. Like the book, Reines’ play operates like a switchboard, connecting people and places across time and space.’ — Wonder




A OK – he’s listening.

B Recording: a child half-singing half-telling a story.

Once upon a time there were two bunny rabbits. They were
friends. One day they went… to see the elephants jump over a
fence. But the watery grave wasn’t so tall. So they slipped. And fell.
And the little one laughed and… the little tickie went wickety
wickety. The end!



A Hang on a second.


A Okay. I’m back.



All three, variously, repeatedly:








A How did it go today.

B Great.

A Great.

B Yeah.

A silence

B She’s really the whole package.

A Really. The whole package?

B Yeah. She’s the whole package.

A Great.




A So—



A Say something?

B What do you want me to say.

A Anything. Say what you want to say.




B I think there’s a difference between World and Planet.

A Yeah. Probably.

B But I basically think it’s too late.

A What about culture.

B What about it.

A Will culture save the world.

B Definitely not.

A Really?

B I don’t know. I mean. Culture is the world.

A Uhm.



A Everything’s good with us, yeah.


Oh I don’t know.


I guess her quirks. Her personal habits. Are starting to lose their
charisma somewhat. But—



A What are you doing.

B Nothing




A Um


A Well. What did you mean. Last night. When you said you felt weird.


B I just felt. Beholden to you.

A Is that why you didn’t wanna talk.

B Yeah. I just felt weird. And I didn’t want to feel. Beholden to you.

A Oh.

B silence

A What do you mean by beholden.




B I don’t know.



The Holloway Series in Poetry – Ariana Reines

Ariana Reines – It’s Get Better II





‘There are writers who can draw out a yarn like Scheherazade, perhaps in some vain hope that the contours and detours of a discursive story might forestall death as it had on those thousand and one nights. In “The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman,” Laurence Sterne has his titular narrator, one of the ur-digressors of the novel form, explain, “Digressions, incontestably, are the sunshine; — they are the life, the soul of reading! — take them out of this book, for instance,—you might as well take the book along with them; — one cold eternal winter would reign in every page of it.”

‘A list of Sterne’s digressive progeny would be as stylistically varied as it is long: Think Herman Melville’s deep-dive asides, Marcel Proust’s streams of involuntary memory, Henry Miller’s perpetual spirals of free association, Nicholson Baker’s meandering meditations stretching like taffy a character’s small moments, Zadie Smith’s hysterical realist excursus, David Foster Wallace’s footnote pyrotechnics, or Harry Mathews’ matryoshka dolls nesting stories within stories.

‘Early last year, Mathews, the first American ever welcomed into Oulipo — that French society of experimental, constraint-based “potential literature” founded by the likes of Raymond Queneau and François Le Lionnais — died at the age of 86 from natural causes. There was no mystery in his end except the mysteries that always cocoon around death, things left unresolved.

‘It’s always a shock to see our literary heroes and forebears pass, but there’s something particularly disjointed when the writer who dies is a digressive novelist: The life, by ending, refuses to mirror the writer’s dominant aesthetic principle of continuing to go on and on and on. …

‘Mathews’ death may darken our skies, but his writing continually offers what Sterne called the sunshine, the life, the soul of reading. One cold eternal winter does not reign on a single page of Mathews’ final novel because the stories continue, the digressions go on, and even though Mathews the man has passed away, Mathews the writer, the storyteller, continues — a now solitary twin.’ — Tyler Malone


Harry Mathews @ Wikipedia
The Many False Floors of Harry Mathews
Harry Mathews’s Parting Gift: An Ode to Story
Buy ‘The Solitary Twin’


Harry Mathews The Solitary Twin
New Directions

‘Harry Mathews’s brilliant final work, The Solitary Twin, is an engaging mystery that simultaneously considers the art of storytelling. When identical twins arrive at an unnamed fishing port, they become the focus of the residents’ attention and gossip. The stories they tell about the young men uncover a dizzying web of connections, revealing passion, sex, and murder. Fates are surprisingly intertwined, and the result is a moving, often hilarious, novel that questions our assumptions about life and literature.’ — New Directions

The Solitary Twin is the perfect endnote for Harry Mathews and a superb point of entry for new readers, encapsulating his lifelong commitment to formal invention while simply being an excellent novel in its own right.’ — J.W. McCormack


This is the story (Berenice began) of one man, a “man’s man,” a professional valet and a good one. I didn’t witness most of what I’m about to tell you, only one evening toward the end, after I’d been called in in a professional capacity.

The valet’s name was Hubert. He felt great ­esteem for his employer, and discreet but genuine affection as well. He did everything in his power to satisfy his master’s small needs and see that he was kept neatly elegant for his social and professional engagements. Hubert enjoyed his work, which—conscientious as he was—kept him as busy as he could wish. He was given every other Sunday off, as well as any workday evening when the gentleman he served had no need of him.

On a Sunday in late March, a sunny Sunday full of portents of the ­nascent spring, Hubert arrived by streetcar in the center of the sizable city where he had always lived. He got off at a stop opposite the main entrance of Fosdick Park, the largest in town. As he stepped to the curb, he at once became aware of a sensation that would gradually envelop him and would subsequently haunt him for the rest of his life.

The spring sun was hot, the air was still—utterly still. There was not the breath of a breeze. It was not only that no leaf or blade of grass so much as quivered: something like an inverse wind had apparently emptied the air of its invisible stuff and fixed leaves and grass in an immobility as absolute as that of a photograph. A ways inside the park, Hubert felt himself sucked into a comparable equilibrium—he could still move without the slightest hesitation, but he sensed, moving or not, packets of an indefinable substance falling away from him into the weightless air, first from the skin of his limbs (calves, small of back, shoulders), then from muscles (slender triceps, stubborn hamstring), from stiff bones (kneecaps), and even from his brain and its subversive nerves, until, at the end, a bar of steel that stretched from shoulder to shoulder across his sternum, of which he had never been aware, was gently lifted from him. This released a spurt of joy, also unsuspected grief upwelling, so as he delightedly smiled, tears rolled down his cheeks to drench his chest. He hid behind a tree so as not to be seen crying. He raised his arms as if in salute, not of any god, idea, or force of nature, just the unnamable source of his release. He quickly thought, I have to tell the world about this.

Still tingling with weightlessness, on his way home he reminded himself, I should let people know, and already a seed of doubt dropped into his mind. He could never realize this wish, he admitted—at least not alone: alone he would be merely a ranting idiot. He needed at least one person ­beside him who had shared, or at least believed in, his improbable experience; that would give him a first semblance of plausibility, which he might then ­develop. But how could he win over this first disciple? Why should anyone believe him? Why should he have been chosen for such exotic joy?

Hubert was not alone for long. One person in the Sunday park had noticed him; she never quite understood why, or why she kept watching him and so witnessing a transfiguration that bewildered and intrigued her. A small, slender man, fine featured but less than handsome, was slowly invested before her eyes with a visible ecstasy that had no visible cause. She did not understand, but he radiated such happiness as made her yearn to partake of his feelings. When he left the park, she walked after him, took the same streetcar as he, and followed him all the way home.

Her name was Rachel. Comely, not tall or short, her head capped with auburn curls, her body compact, lithe, and soft. That day she wore a yellow blouse, blue jeans, and penny loafers. She worked in a scholarly bookstore, selling the works of Spinoza, Walser, and Groddeck to “serious” readers young and old. She lived alone in a very small flat near the university.

Hubert had disappeared through a back door of the house where he lived. She walked up to the door and knocked on it firmly. There was no response, the door was unlocked, she walked into a kind of shadowy storeroom (racks of bottles and fruit) that led to a large, bright kitchen. A plump middle-aged woman put down the celery stalks she had been chopping and turned to face Rachel with not unfriendly surprise. Rachel: “Forgive me for barging in, but a gentleman was here a moment ago—I don’t know his name, but I need to speak to him, if he would consent to receive me. I’m Rachel Auerbach—that will mean nothing to him.” “And I am Rosina. Please to be seated. I go to make him know you are here. Without doubt he will be content in the company of such a pretty young lady.” Exit Rosina.

A few minutes later she returned with Hubert. “Signor Hubert, here is Signorina Rachel.” Rachel apologized for seeming impudent: she summed up her observations in the park and her curiosity to learn what was going on. Hubert: “We can talk in the servants’ sitting room. Please excuse us, Rosina.” “Naturally. Ought I to make tea?” “Coffee perhaps—and for you, Miss Rachel?” “Oh yes, coffee for me, too.”

When they were settled, Rachel asked, “Are you really a servant?” “Very much so: valet to the master of the house, a distinguished gentleman, Sir Bellamy Boeyens. A very kind man, too, and his wife, Constance, an equally kind woman. Not perhaps kind enough, either of them, to appreciate my fit this afternoon.” “It didn’t look like a fit.” “I’m very glad you’ve come. Did you notice anything peculiar about the place?” “I did notice the stillness. Unfortunately it didn’t affect me like it did you. I didn’t guess it was what had stirred you.” “But you’ve guessed it now!”

Rachel began to feel that they were concocting a very Jamesian situation. Since he was still “off” that evening, Hubert suggested they dine together. She accepted. Afterward, he in turn accepted her invitation to take her home, where he stayed till break of day.

So their love affair began, and their alliance. She was thirty-three, he fifty-one; he was a bearer of new truth revealed, she his disciple and scholiast; but differences of years and roles became no more than complements to their unpredicted, passionate love.


A Tribute To Harry Mathews | The New School

Harry Mathews l’OULIPO

Harry Mathews on Bookworm




p.s. Hey. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. Ha. Ah, fire sale! I’ll go check out the goods. Everyone, Lucrative possible link and situation for you courtesy of Mr. Ehrenstein, i.e. David: ‘Attention all and sundry: Bill and I are having a Major Sale. Here’s guide to the items we have up on e-bay and elsewhere.’ ** Steve Erickson, Hi. There are some CD-based sound/art works, yes, but I can’t think of examples off the top of my head. Maybe I’ll try doing a CD post and see what happens. Loudmouthed twittering know-it-all ignoramuses, Jesus. Over here where people maintain their senses of humour, Gaspar’s poster was just considered funny. And it’s not the only poster, obviously, for goodness sake. Everyone, Here’s Steve’s review of Courtney Barnett’s TELL ME HOW YOU REALLY FEEL. Go. ** Wolf, Boneverything! Mm, it does sound to have been truly nice. I’ve barely creased Provence. Must correct that. I was going to say I love how Paris smells in the winter, but I think that smell is just my delighted eyes sending a hallucination to my nostrils. Welcome back to the big L. My week … Well, not five minutes ago, I got a message from Ariana Reines, whose new book is coincidentally upstairs in the post (!) that she’s in Paris for a couple of days, so I’m going to go see her shortly. You remember she was part of our gang for a long time, under the moniker … what was it … oh, yeah, Antler. Other than that, work on the new film script, probably last diddling with the TV script, see some art, pals, nothing too major. What about yours, eh? ** Damien Ark, Hi. Oh, duh, yeah, I was spacing just as I suspected. I know ECM, have or had a bunch of their product. Mostly Reich and Part probably. I don’t know why people want to be so hard ass and purist about their opinions. I guess it’s appealing like like living in a fortress. Thanks, man. You sound really good! It’s really good to hear! ** Dóra Grőber, Hi, Dóra! Wonderful to see you, my friend. I’m good. The producer situation is the same. It’s getting dangerously close to a big legal mess that will just cause problems for all of us. ‘Praying’ it doesn’t go that far. The TV series script is with the dreaded producer, and we’re harassing her to send it on to ARTE and not be her usual incompetent, sluggish self. Zac and I are using this in-between TV script working time to finish our film script, and hopefully we can. Very excited about that! Interesting: I don’t know that book ‘The Last Victim’. Up at a point, I think I read every serial killer-related book in existence, but, hm, I’ll check that out. That sounds quite curious. Yes, getting the balance is super important, obviously. Your own work is paramount! Any strategy about how to accomplish that? I’ve mostly been working, as usual, and seeing friends and stuff. Nothing too huge has happened. This week might be good, though. Well, I hope by the next time I see you, hopefully on Friday if not before, you’ve made some headway in your job/creativity balancing. Take good care! ** Tosh Berman, Thank you, Tosh! ** Bill, Thanks, Bill. Yeah, I want a whole bunch of them. 10 second piano snippet! Any ideas about its destiny yet? ** Jamie, Ha ha. Glad you dug the post. I used to have a shitload of sound effects records. I had one of ‘scary sounds’ that featured a photo of a house two doors away from mine on the photo. It was a scary looking house. You have impetigo. So do I! I mean not right now, but I’ve got the, whatever, virus thing so I get impetigo every few years. Where do you get yours? Mine is always in a spot near my right elbow. Man, so sorry. Impetigo has a weird, not fun effect. Your body’s immune system is a slut. No fair. Yeah, it seems like a few people had that optical illusion problem re: the comments yesterday. In the past when that happened, I asked my host, and they said there’s nothing wrong, so I don’t know why that happens to some people but not to others. Sorry. What’s your day like? May it be so wonderful that not a single idiot on Facebook wants to shame it. Love like a sponge, Dennis. ** Jeff J, Hi. Yeah, I have no idea why a few people here had issues with the blog yesterday. I will contact my host today, but, like I told Jamie, when that happened in the past, they never could find anything amiss on the blog’s end. The best fairytales always go awry, but that’s no comfort to you. I don’t know ‘King Cophetua’. I’m really behind on my Gracq. I should be able to pick that up here somewhere. Thank you. I see the new Noe on June 3rd. A bunch of the Cannes films are about to open here. Nothing must-see so far but they’re piling in, so there will be. Most excitingly for me, ARTE is broadcasting the new Godard next week! ** _Black_Acrylic, Thanks, Ben! Big up! ** JM, I utterly agree with you about chocolate records. Obviously. Hope you like ‘Stupid Baby’. I think you will? How’s everything on your end? ** Politekid, Hi. Well, it can be. It always is for me, I think. It doesn’t seem so at first, but then you kind of loosen your mind a little, and the space gets really conducive. ‘Process philosophy’: what an interesting name. I’ll investigate. Yeah, sorry about that thing where it says there are no comments when they are. I have no idea what happens to some people and not to others. I’ve tried getting my host to find the problem, but they always say there is no apparent problem. I’ll try to get to the bottom of that again. ** Misanthrope, Me too. At school, and at home too. Where are they now? I remember Chu Bops now, weird. I completely forgot about those. Those were cool, but the gum was shitty, which I guess is why they pooped out. MP3 chewing gum would be an interesting trick to try to pull off. Dude, congrats on the novel progress. Worth the headache, I am pretty much sure. Yeah, again, the 0 comments thing. Inexplicable, but I’m on trying to get that fixed if it can be fixed today. ** Okay. I loved those books up there, and I think you might too if you read them, but who knows. Recommended in any case. See you tomorrow.


  1. Dennis! Sorry about the delay in responding. I’m running on “having a two-year-old time” and apparently that means time distorts and collapses and there aren’t enough hours in the day. I am working on something, new novelist/bookish thing that I have a handle on finally and am trying to get as much done as possible. It takes me a long time to understand what a project wants from me and to learn its lessons. I’m not really good at carrying over anything I learned from my last anything. This one is more complicated so far in terms of event and seems more based in memory, which I didn’t know for a while, so getting style right has been an exploration. Great assemblage of stuff here! I’m a fan of KJS and of Ariana, who I met through here!, and obviously excited for one more Harry Matthews, and am intrigued by Troy Weaver’s book. Psyched too for the new gif novel!. Love to you.

  2. Dennis The Marvellous! Do I remember Antler/Antie/Ariana Reines?! The Queen and The Threader? Are you kidding me? How’s she? Give her a massive hug for me. Wait you’ll read that too late. Damn. Well I’ll have to give it myself. Ariana, you big sissy, come to London!
    Yes, you should definitely explore Provence more. Isn’t Zack from the South?
    My week promises little in the way of noteworthy happenings, but those are hard to predict, so… I will try and keep a little list of things worth listing for you.
    Oh! Have you been to the Ghosts and Hell show at the Quai Branly?

  3. Chris Cochrane

    May 22, 2018 at 2:40 pm

    Good Morning, well, THEM rehearsald start Wednesday, tonight for you and tomorrow for me. Have they confirmed flights for you, when are you coming? Not much to report, work, still working on production of a couple projects, learning to deal and have a relationship with the ex because I (we) want to, clearly. Saw the Peter Hujar show, rather lovely, too much rain and not enough sun, the new Atlantic Northwest as a friend of mine called it. I’ll write after the first or first couple of rehearsals to give you the skinny. as always sending lots of love

  4. Harry Matthews’s daughter “models” Guinevere in Bresson’s “Lancelot du Lac”

  5. Dennis, I think your blog is possessed! Normally I access it through my bookmarks folder for Chrome and it takes me right to the most recent entry, but today it just kept sending me to yesterday’s post… same thing happened when I tried to access it through Google. I could only get to today’s entry by following your link on FB. WTF? I forgot to mention it at the time, but at the Neo-Decadence Day people were mentioning to me about how they were seeing 0 comments, and how it wasn’t until they left a comment themselves that they saw the others… and now I see the same thing is happening to me today. Weird…

    A day or two ago I finished my Bret Easton Ellis re-read… I read all his books except for LUNAR PARK, which I re-read in 2016.

  6. hi dennis

    mmh, ive not read any of these, cringe, after my 925, im uggh but im halfway through jon fosse ” scenes form a childhood ” which is incredible, there’s a prose piece called stones which is as repetitive as whitehouse, lord karl ove bows before him

    its a great book and its on fitzcarraldo whom are tom ford of books, but 10 e’s

    dennis and zac

    i watched” like cattle ” over the weekend and im not going to go deep here in public but i was amazed and very jealous at how far ye went, just now as i tap towards ye several images flickered by and the stillness of the images, the cinema graphic held still images by michael, that still numbing which ran through all four chapters, seriously dennis and zac, i know im behind yer films, il catch up, but hugs for ye guys, im amazed and very proud for ye, disgusted but happy

    anyway, love you dennis, a,x

  7. Hey Dennis!
    How are you?
    Ta for these books. I want every one of them and I’m probably going to get them.
    I get the impetigo on my face, which is pretty horrible. It really tires me out too. Plus I’m in for my MRI tomorrow, so not allowed to eat fruit or veg today and I’d really like to eat lots of fruit.
    It took me a while to get into the blog today, or at least to get to today’s post, and all the comments have disappeared, but y’know, it keeps me on my toes. I’ll fire this comment into the void & hope it reaches you.
    How was your day?
    May Wednesday make you feel like you’ve invented a new dance craze, without actually having done such a thing.
    Purple love,

  8. Expecting Film Twitter to have a sense of humor beyond making sarcastic insults about films and filmmakers it doesn’t like is overrating it severely. Giving filmmakers like Noe the credit for being self-aware about their reputations and getting the joke is too much of a stretch – and, frankly, too generous towards a director many people hate – for it.

    I had no problem posting here the two times I did so yesterday, but after that the site turned weird. When I reloaded the site later on in the day the option to post a comment had disappeared. Something strange was definitely going on.

    Well, I finally got the E-mail address of Pitchfork’s reviews editor and pitched him 3 reviews. I have the feeling he gets a dozen freelancers approaching him each day, but I really hope this works out. As much as people have reason to criticize that site, they do run about 25 800-word album reviews each week, which is immensely more than their competition like Stereogum or Consequence of Sound.

    I saw Christian Marclay play with two other turntablists at one New York museum years ago. I can no longer recall which museum. He did things like put two turntables’ needles at different points on the same record as it spun. I remember thinking “With three DJs playing records simultaneously, this should be much louder and more cacophonous!”

    Did you hear about Moor Mother playing a metal festival with Justin Broadrick and the Bug? If they record with that lineup, I can’t wait to hear the results.

  9. I think Sypha might be onto something when he says this blog is possessed. For me, I see 0 comments on my new computer but everything’s just fine when I look on this old one. I hope your tech person can do whatever exorcism might be necessary to sort this out.

    As promised, I bring you a new artwork: HRH Meghan, Inverted.

    Feeling a bit worried as those boxes full of Yuck ‘n Yum Compendiums are still up at the Generator, and the gallery’s not been responding to any of my texts or emails. I might need to rethink how we get these things to buyers, because this sure ain’t an ideal situation right now.

  10. I will probably totally like Stupid Baby. On the Harry Mathews note I have Singular Pleasures sitting in my home ready for the right day. And for me to finish War & Peace. Or, really, get that far into it. But mostly for the right day. Things are good–ish. Like, the stuff I’m doing is all good. The ways I’m doing it and ways I feel about doing it are maybe not so good-ish. but i/d/k //// i probably won’t know for another few months when things settle down a bit.

  11. Dennis, I’m defo picking up Ariana’s book. I like the others too.

    Thanks. It’s really weird. I assumed it’s just me with the 0 comments thing and then never being able to see them. But I’ve tried three different browsers and my phone and it’s the same thing. Weird as shit. I’d hate to think that someone is still targeting you and the blog. That idea pisses me off no end.

    And thanks again. Yes, it was good to get that bit finished. I’ll start the next, which is actually the previous, tonight.

    Hahaha, that Chu Bops gun was awful, right? I remember it. A lot of time it was hard and just broke into pieces. They should do book versions with gum for pages. The funny thing, too, about the Chu Bops is that they had a lot of metal bands and shit then.

  12. Hi Dennis, no prob with the blog for me – getting it all fine. Looking forward to Them and the new Gif novel! Finished my revisions on my novel tonight and feeling real good about it. Ready to send it off to my publisher soon. I had gotten a free manuscript critique for the first 25 pages from former publisher, now editor Ben LeRoy, who was offering free critiques to writers who do volunteer work, and he was very complimentary on the first 25 with just a few suggestions. I’m a pretty good self-editor, and finished the rest using some of the comments I heard from the agent and other readers. Feeling real good about this. Hopefully will be published this fall. I’ll keep you posted and maybe we can do a day. Just waiting to hear from my one permission request for a quote I need. They said they’re sending me the permission grant. Does that mean they’ve granted it? I think so, hope it’s free. I think it’s “fair use.” I keep checking the mail…maybe it’ll come today. I’ve had to paraphrase Led Zeppelin and Nirvana songs – don’t want to pay for those permissions! Paraphrasing Kurt Cobain has been challenging, but I think I did it OK. (“I’m not gonna crack,” I keep telling myself!)

  13. Intriguing selection today, Dennis. I quite enjoyed Shinkle’s last book, will try to score a copy of the new one. (Am getting a little impatient that there’s still no sign of the new New Juche that I ordered, hrumph.)

    The piano snippet doesn’t have a destination yet. I’ve had so little energy and headspace for creative stuff, I’m trying to be careful about saving the little fragments that actually squeeze through the muck, for future projects. Hopefully things will look up a bit this summer.


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