‘I mean, I finished the final installment of Donkey last night. Just under the wire. The Publisher stood outside Beaver Haus with a whip. “Write like the wind!” She would yell. Then snap the whip. I mean, I locked the door so she couldn’t come inside so eventually she left, but still. That was kind of rude. I mean, this is good. FINALLY! Here we are, what? I wrote the thing back in 2020? December? And then it has been going out every month for 13 months. I mean, I am very glad I didn’t decide to just send out the short story for the last two parts. I mean, I think having alternate endings kind of makes a point. I mean, if the idea is that the thing is allegory. I mean, to kind of prove that no matter how you end the thing it is always going to be the same. I mean, Jayboo saying that the goods should be a time machine, that is the only ending that wouldn’t work. Or maybe not? Maybe Donkey wins the lottery or something? Goes on to become president? I mean, whatever. Not that most of you even know what I am talking about. I mean, shame. Here I am, writing like the wind and does anyone sign up for the serial? I mean, a few of you, but if you can get the milk for free, am I right? Like that old bridesmaids chestnut about marriage.
‘Talked to PegLeg for a while today on the phone. Bad times in Wyoming at the moment. Those fuckers have really lost their fucking minds. It really sucks. They already sucked, but now they suck so bad that there should be a travel warning to that fucking state. I mean, I seriously worry about G using they/them pronouns. I mean, not in general, but in August when we go out there. I mean, it was scary for me growing up and I have just a sliver of queerness. And they still chased me down in their trucks and beat me up. Well, they would have beaten me up, but I outran the idiots. But still. I mean, I am going to need to be on high alert. Like maybe no cruising Main in Worland. I mean, I don’t even know. I mean, part of me is joking, but when I actually think about it I am very nervous. I grew up around that shit. G did not. And things are getting so out of control in these places that I wouldn’t put it past a group of Wyoming asshole teenagers to hunt queer kids down just to beat them up. I wouldn’t. I mean, Worland is something out of Nazi Germany circa 1930’s at this point. American flags up and down the Main street. Not that that is special in America, but it is unnerving. And they all really do believe all the lies. All the propaganda. And since they are so insulated from the outside world they will very much see G as a threat. I mean, I don’t want to talk about it anymore.’ — Joey Truman
Joey Truman Donkey
‘Don’t get me wrong, but work is a four letter word.
‘No matter how hard you try to avoid it, it is unavoidable.
‘In his new serial writing project, Donkey, Joey Truman manifests a bizarro literary sitcom as sexy romp as meditation on being trapped in the working class with no way out.
‘Starting when you sign up: 14 months of an intense journey of self-reflection and inertia mailed to you monthly!’ — Whiskey Tit
FEB 17 Reading Contest
Screed City Radio Intro
‘London-rose is the sort of story in which very little happens, and in which the things that do accrue profound immensity. The barebones plot is as follows: a woman working unhappily as an error-corrector travels from London around the UK to assess whether the grading systems of various institutions operate equivalently to those in the United States. After visiting Buchenwald with a professor she encounters by happenstance, she considers quitting her job, tries unsuccessfully to do so, and then, finally, succeeds. Along the way are detours: to a poet’s home in Wales, to Paris “to see what it felt like,” to “Dublin, Cork, Galway, Scotland, Lancaster, Birmingham, Warwick.” Untethered any longer to the mundanity of her capitalist exploitation, the narrator invokes an amorphous revolution, one which is “borderless. . . . anti-nationalist, a revolution based on an emotion, not an imperialist idea. . . . Resistance, abolition, eternity.”
‘As the narrator sloughs off the humdrum constrictions of her life, she imagines herself as becoming increasingly “transparent”; unlike the company interns she encounters—whose early rebelliousness will only be incorporated into the system—it is her “escape from this pattern” which facilitates the birth of the utopian vision. Before this, in her error-correcting work, it had seemed to the narrator that “certain standards could not be shared across borders.” A central preoccupation of London-rose is the distortion of translation, the likelihood that language is categorically insufficient in transporting truth. The novel’s title itself is the result of the narrator’s misreading of a sign for “Lansdowne Park” as London-rose—the signifiers are fallible, prone to other interpretive hiccups and possibilities. The narrator likens herself to the ninth century neo-Platonist John Scotus Eriugena, who imagined all beingness as a sequence of hierarchic declensions from God; all things would return, eventually, to a state of nonbeing. Events curl back into themselves and recur. How do we transmit our reality? The narrator asks why “we need a good vocabulary so badly, especially spoken.” But how else, otherwise, to connect?
‘That words generate misfirings rather than solutions for many of our most vital imaginative, spiritual, and political concerns is a charge Howe has circled for decades. In 1998’s Nod, the novel’s heroine, Cloda, asks from within a madhouse whether “silence is the depth of hearing,” and berates her doctor, who “resist[s] hearing my interpretations of my own problems because I don’t use your jargon.” In the essay “Person, Place, and Time,” from her 2009 memoir The Winter Sun, she asks: “How could a person access the language that is common to all beings, if there really is such a thing?” In London-rose the narrator believes that “to pray without moving your lips is the highest aspiration.” The invocation which is unspoken hews nearest to God. Words only get in the way. We should long to be as birds, who know that borders “can’t keep voices in,” or sheep, who “carried languages across borders in their curls—Arabic, Scots.” The kingdom of animals is not beholden to unnatural divisions; perhaps we must look to them in our dream of a common language.’ — Jamie Hood, The Baffler
Fanny Howe London-Rose : Beauty Will Save the World
It feels we aren’t reading prose but language that oscillates between liturgy and prayer.’ — Eugene Lim
‘Written in 1994 when Fanny Howe was doing itinerant work in the UK, London-rose is an early post-work novel that describes the loneliness and confusion of digital life and perpetual motion. Moving from personal narrative to philosophy to poetry, Howe previsages the alienation and malaise of the 21st century workplace. London-rose is a meditation on failure, capitalism, disapearance and force.’ — DP
I followed a small line of people into the bus depot. Red buses, destinations named. Wet sweat in London smells like spaghetti sauce. The buses soak it up and hand it back. I was near the steps inside, hesitated and felt the happiness open doors in moving vehicles can bring.
The professor stood behind me. I felt him before I noticed him. My back was my front. I felt him as if I could see him while I was facing the other way. I didn’t dare look while we found our seats, his breath beside me for the long tedious ride to Stansted Airport. While I twisted off my shoes to kick them under the seat, I stole a glance at him and soon we were talking but not face to face. We spoke with our profiles. The bus was warm and comforting. Only small murmurs came from the seats behind. We spoke low in our throats. Who was he? We had made this plan to meet on this day and ride. But he looked different than he did before. All the way back in time. Caricature began in caves. First the bones and bent of animals, then weapons, then humans. Profiles. It was as if full faces were off-limits, too demanding, unless pounded into stone statues.
I asked when a bad drawing becomes a caricature.
I suppose when people become angry at art. Or look too closely at a face.
Hard edges have made civilization ugly. Blocks. A neurotic architecture sees riots, protests, madness, bodies falling, and responds with cement ramps, sealed windows, elevators that go sideways.
“Then we will invent new roses / roses of capitals with petals of squares.” (Vladimir Mayakovsky)
The coziness of the bus, its quiet engine, and outside a gray muffler of a sky, our motion—slow—made me think, Please, hope, don’t stop! Don’t come to an end!
I let myself look at him straight. He was one of those pannational men with lines and shadows on his skin. He was thin and serious, mouth sensual, eyes lidded and luminous, and his hands he held clasped before him, as if in prayer. I supposed he would be serious in his bones but the laugh lines in his cheeks were not stern. When he turned, his gaze stayed on my mouth rather than my eyes. Our minds were equal, we had nothing to say. It was strange how sure I was that I had not really seen him before. He made perfect sense to me now. Had I mistaken him for someone else? Eyes so bright belong to an artist, a warrior, or a monk.
I felt shame at wishing we were the kind of friends who could touch on a bus, hold hands, lean in and whisper. My cheeks felt hot from the radiator under us. His were a pale red too. Celibacy is not cerebral but blushes like a salamander and intensifies all colors.
Petals of roses, cement squares, we spoke in more depth of why we were going where we were. Don’t worry, he said, we are only going to spend one day and one night—in Weimar. Not in the camp. Those horrors belong to others now, somewhere out in the world.
He dropped his head and literally shuddered with a sharp laugh.
Reading by Fanny Howe, 11.21.13
Lecture by Fanny Howe, 11.22.13
‘I’ve been on immunomodulating drugs for 11 years now. The medicine tells the cells called “natural killers” to stop killing, and my inflammatory-responding T cells are suppressed. Autoimmunity means the immune system attacks itself—a confusion of the boundary between self and other. Its strange to fathom that my body has alchemically grown and changed irrevocably from my drugs; and then funny to then again realize that this is the case of all bodies all the time (human or non-human) — we’re not a closed system — on the contrary, things are going in and out and this changes us always irrevocably. Its called living. Even our immune system’s ability to adapt and learn is a vital tool which scientists believe was taken from the DNA of a virus caught by a human long ago down the evolutionary chain. I think through this writing I’m trying to undo some of the binaries that live within me which are a wholly inadequate story of being ill: infecting/infected natural/unnatural toxic/non-toxic pure/polluted healthy/ill well/unwell…
‘I can theoretically talk the talk of undoing this stuff but its another thing to actually internalise into the body/mind (years and years of work now)— for example, as far as my medication is concerned I still find myself labelling it “unnatural” and stigmatising my body as “polluted”.
‘This is all based on my teenage beliefs, bolstered by being a young scifi nerd and stumbling upon some Anarcho-primitivist theory in my late teens, that if civ would collapse I would be shit out of luck because my body was dependent on prescription drugs. I felt this as a weakness, and I was sure that if this happened I would just die; I didn’t see any sick or disabled people living out the apocalypse in any narratives around me. If anything we were the first ones to go, usually quickly, as some kind of symbol that only the strong were gonna survive henceforth. Because of this in my teens I developed my own internalised story that I would die young. At some point as I crossed a boundary into my mid-twenties I realised that this wasn’t necessarily my trajectory, at least as imminently as I believed. As I’ve had a changing relationship to my health, expanded my reading to more supportive topics like disability justice, queer theory and feminist scifi writers, and seen the creative and caring tactics of activists spaces concerned and centring disability in their organising, I’ve slowly been able to challenge my internalised ideas around death from this period.
‘Though I still find this a pretty common fear from my sick and disabled friends, that we won’t survive the likely difficult years that are ahead. I think, in a larger way, its a problem of the social imagination around sickness, and a problem of a lack of language and space to describe and feel the body on our own terms, through our own narrative, through time.’ — Clay AD
Clay AD Holy Bodies
‘Holy Bodies is a peep hole, glory hole and sink hole forming a somatic stone soup of small proposals that together exalt the freedoms of body, mind and spirit through care, sex, jokes, destruction and transformation.’ — Pilot Press
‘Clay AD knows at an ancient and prescient level that, to quote from their book, ‘shit is all life’, but also that life is the shit, and the sunset, and the endgame. One for our immuno-suppressed comrades, shit theorists, pink salt throwers, and their lovers and friends, that is, I hope, everyone.’ — Isabel Waidner
I’m in Training Don’t Kiss Me #1
sun (everything’s on fire)
‘Even from an early age Rene Ricard was famous in the Boston poetry community for his wild beauty, fierce intelligence, and fearsome wit. He dropped out of school after completing eighth grade because he knew more than his teachers, constantly correcting even his French teacher in class. Soon he embarked on an independent study program that largely involved seducing Harvard boys. When I visited Provincetown for the first time in the early 1970s, Rene was also famous there. Even when there were only 15 or 20 people who knew who he was, he was famous. It was an aura that surrounded him from the start.
‘Born at the marvelously antiquated-named Boston Lying-In Hospital (later Brigham and Women’s), Rene would always bristle when his birthplace was listed as New Bedford. In his day that was a considerable step down, despite the fact that in the 19th century New Bedford claimed the highest number of millionaires per capita in the U.S. (courtesy of the shipping and whaling trades). Rene grew up in Acushnet, which was also the name of the ship on which Herman Melville went to sea before writing Moby-Dick. He had an abiding love of Melville, and in his younger photos I always see Rene as Billy Budd, the sensitive youth fighting to survive in a claustrophobic environment full of Catholic torment, gratuitous violence, and sublimated homosexuality.
‘Rene told me the defining moment of his life was seeing a Warhol flower painting at the Boston ICA in 1966. “I sat in front of that painting for two hours and plotted out my entire life.” When Warhol came to Boston for the opening he shot several reels of the Chelsea Girls at the Cambridge apartment of Ed Hood, who was a close friend of Rene’s. Rene appears in the film, sitting silently on the bed, peeling and eating a grapefruit slowly enough to fill the 20-minute reel. I can say without irony the performance is riveting.
‘Unlike most poets who were happy to give readings and attend each other’s, Rene hated to do either, so his appearances were rare. When he did read he usually arrived at the last minute (extremely high) and left immediately after. He let it be known that for him poetry readings were poor and déclassé, and anything less than a fancy cocktail party on the Upper East Side was well below his dignity. There were, however, a few memorable readings, such as the one Rene shared with his then-boyfriend. Between the time the reading was booked and the evening it took place Rene and the young man had split up, and Rene had composed a long hate poem filled with the most embarrassing sexual details recounted in excruciating detail, which he recited with his friend’s parents sitting in the front row. This was typical of Rene: he was our Catullus, writing elegant and obscene poems of love and hate with brevity and dispatch. But maybe it was best to avoid him?’ — Raymond Foye
Rene Ricard God with Revolver
‘God with Revolver is the re-issue of Rene Ricard’s second volume of poetry, originally published in 1989 as part of the Hanuman Books series. Dedicated to the dramatic experience of heartbreak, this collection assembled from poems composed over several years, seems to be written in a single breath. With its raw sincerity and wit, God with Revolver is a vibrant testament to 1980s New York that still speaks to its readers in all its intensity, poignancy, and emotional vulnerability.’ — Editions Lutanie
OIL KILLS POETS SPILL – Rene Ricard cam1
Rene Ricard ● A Simple Tribute
‘A sentence in David Nutt’s hands turns into something ‘shiny and lethal to brandish’ in these fiercely imagined spaces where ‘even the ferns look nervous.’ Under house arrest, crazed by love or war, the freakishy wounded or self-wounding characters in these stories break their bonds for pharmaceutical relief, and we follow them in astonishment at their excess. Summertime in the Emergency Room is a remarkable debut collection of stories from a gifted writer.’ — Christine Schutt
‘When it comes to David Nutt, the only thing I love more than his sharp, inventive and seismically funny style is the deep humanity from which it springs. His is a brilliant and much needed voice in these sad, ridiculous times.’ — Sam Lipsyte
“Life has burned a hole in the pockets of Shaker, the aptly named up-and-at-’em down-and-outer wambling his way through the full spread of our present squalor in this ultravivid, live wire of a debut novel. Page after page, David Nutt shocks the language into a killingly original blaze.” — Gari Lutz
‘David Nutt’s Summertime in the Emergency Room contains stories that reveal the psychological truths of the human condition. Here are stories that are strange, heartbreaking, told with precision and delicacy that recalls such writers as Garielle Lutz and Mary Robison. The world shown here through Nutt’s eyes shows a writer with a deep and passionate understanding of language.’ — Brandon Hobson
”Do you ever think about how lucky we are? To be alive and awake in this thrilling historical epoch, just moments before the apocalyptic collapse?’ This collection of otherworldly stories reads like a hallucinogenic negative print of the world we are inhabiting today. Sick adolescents stall on unfinished algebra equations that speak to larger enigmas. They burn ants with magnifying lenses, smear them like sauce onto a slide, and patiently wait for the red guts to bake under a microscope’s glare. Adults are stitched up, half dead, or generally so checked out that they are never to be trusted. Molars get extracted with pliers and sadness gets sucked out with straws. Pee gets archived in soda bottles. Nutt reveals the ‘dark strain of lonely,’ one you want to live in even when it hurts because it’s a comforting through line to a very contemporary feeling of solitude.’ — Chiara Barzini
‘Elegant, manic, deeply attentive. The reader may be struck, at first, by a dark undertow (think Gary Lutz meets Grace Paley) but as the language teaches us how to read it, The Great American Suction reveals itself to be a celebratory comic romp from a big-hearted writer.’ — George Saunders
David Nutt Summertime in the Emergency Room
‘Nine stories about befuddled loners, estranged friends, and detonated families, all hobbled by various acts of self-sabotage, yet still they flounder forth, grasping at every loose thread as if it were a lifeline, only to unravel themselves instead.’ — Calamari
‘Witty, exacting, and full of exuberant prose, SUMMERTIME IN THE EMERGENCY ROOM is one of those high-velocity collections in which every story swerves and surprises. It is oddly exhilarating to witness Nutt’s characters careen and stagger through their darkest moments and worst decisions, their voices full of heat. This is a stylish, blisteringly inventive book.’ — Kimberly King Parsons
Our Lady of Bleak Hearts
Then came the crash: the windshield exploded, the airbag detonated, and most of his mouth’s silver was knocked across the minivan console. Afterwards Shaver remembered soft-stroking the airbag’s strange polymer fabric and thinking: Some day they are going to colonize the moon with this stuff. His vehicle had just overturned on an embankment and skidded a solemn furrow through the field, a lonely range of dirt and cactus and scrub life, where his wife and son now stood, sort of rooted to the parched earth, heads bloodied, faces blank. Shaver crawled through the broken windshield, sluggish as a drugged lion. Slowly more of him cohered. He spat another silver crown and tried to regain his land legs, relearning to walk across all that brown flatness. The side mirror had been sheared away. He absently picked it up and held it to his face. His face was calm, spotless. Shaver looked up in time to see his wife struggling to jimmy free the slim rod of metal wedged stubbornly in her forehead.
— “Darling,” she said, both hands tugging the bloody thing. “We’re dead.”
Most mornings she loiters at the kitchen pantry, her hair soft as peach fur underneath the wig, expression vacant, her makeup a kind of savage kabuki.
— “Anything alive in there?” Shaver asks.
— “I’m looking,” she replies into the pantry.
— “It’s empty.”
— His wife turns to him and forces a semi-smile. Kabuki is too much a compliment. Her skin has been rather artlessly shellacked with a garish rainbow palette.
— “I don’t think I’ve fully mastered the mascara yet,” Shaver admits.
— Both of them, husband and wife, are wincing in perfect unison. She wrenches her face so hard into a smile her head shakes free of her wig. He picks the mangle of blonde off the floor and cradles it.
— “Baby,” Shaver says. “I like your head bald.”
— She blinks at him.
— “It’s total hardcore punk rock,” he tells her. “You remember hardcore punk rock?”
— “It feels like private fur.”
— “Primate, like apes?”
— “Private,” she says and touches her loins to the kitchen table, kneading herself a little too vigorously. Shaver gently takes her by the elbow and twists her back to the pantry, holding her there, his head against hers. Both of them stare into the barren shelves.
— “It hugs me,” she says.
Their son, Renaldo, is roasting red ants on the sidewalk. The boy is not really named Renaldo, but there were already eight other Tobbies in his kindergarten—enough to form a small nation, annex sovereign neighbors, key the nukes—before Shaver pulled him out of school altogether. The boy hasn’t uttered a single meaningful word since the day he was strapped to the child-sized backboard and glided into the ambulance sneakers first. The paramedics had flashed a penlight in the boy’s eyes, and the boy opened his mouth. Everybody leaned in. “DumDum,” the boy whispered, and then he was gone.
— The accident bestowed an unmistakable mystique upon the boy. People see a pale speechless child with a damaged brain and a broken mother and they automatically tilt into maudlin sympathies. They want to smother the kid with schmaltz, rescue and beatify him before puberty invades. They don’t understand his languagelessness has made him a solitary figure in the household, aloof and judgmental, stalking the high corridors of authority, more father than Shaver could ever be.
— The child has jig-stomped the ants to death and smeared them like sauce on a slide. Now he patiently waits for the red guts to bake under his microscope’s atomizing glare. Shaver doesn’t have the heart—his own, his son’s, anyone’s—to tell him he’s doing it wrong, that normal boys his age fry the small buggers alive with magnifying glasses. The whole stomp-smear-slide operation is needlessly complex. Shaver’s heart: It could still be somewhere in that field, a runty pink organ, hiking his insurance premiums with every lame twitch.
— Shaver lays flat across the sidewalk under the withering gaze of his son.
— “Me next,” he says.
— “Fix me,” he says.
— Shaver scrounges a couple nickels from his shirt pocket and balances them on his closed eyes—silver holes, lidless, and unblinking—and he smiles his dark mouth up at the boy.
p.s. Hey. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. ‘The Trip’ is big fun. Wow, but pretty harsh about Anne Heche, man. ** Dominik, Hi!!! Oh, definitely do not take LSD if you think it’s evil. *flashing red lights* Best to think of LSD as an opportunity to listen to your all time favorite song for the first time. Or something. Well, yes indeed, about your uni’s ill and counterproductive approach to teaching psychology. But you won that one sided battle with flying colors. My uni was good if you had a strong idea of what you were interested in and wanted to do. Students who didn’t have that basically just half-attended classes and smoked tons of pot for four years. And the school seemed totally fine with that. But like my … I don’t remember what they called it, the faculty member who was my officially assigned guidance counsellor, was this man whose whole office was full of sand with no furniture and lots of burning incense and mandalas on the walls, and, when you met with him, you had to sit in the lotus position and meditate for a few minutes before he would talk to you. Fun in a way, but not very motivating. I suppose you’re very right about memes’ creators and stars. Interesting. I know, right, about my yesterday’s love being the easy and completely impossible solution to almost everything. Sigh. Today is supposedly the last day of our current heatwave so I’ll assign love the simple task of having convinced Parisian shopkeepers and apartment building designers of the value of installing air-conditioners years ago, G. ** Bill, Good old SF where they have long known sluttiness takes many forms. I might get to see ‘Hotel’ this weekend. I found it. If I do, I’ll report back. Have a delightfully unexpected next couple of days. ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi, B. I have that Plastikman record with the inlay! Back in LA, but still. And, in addition to its excellent packaging, it’s a terrific album from his peak period, if you like his thing. I even know about that Texas arrest. Good times! ** Steve Erickson, Hi. Oh, well, that’s a start: the Imperial Triumphant merch. Not that scoring liquid LSD is exactly a picnic these days unless I’m missing something. No, I have no idea what proof was required. It’s true that I would imagine opening one’s Grinder account and maybe sharing one’s up-to-the-minute chats would be sufficient. Resnais retrospective: nice. One can never see ‘Providence’ too many times in my opinion. Glad you’re feeling much better. I hope for nothing but continued upswinging through the weekend. ** Okay. I read the five books up there recently, loved them, and I am recommending them you, which is basically just a reiteration of the post’s title, but c’est la vie, and see you on Monday.