The blog of author Dennis Cooper

5 books I read recently & loved: Zac Smith Everything is Totally Fine, Vi Khi Nao The Vegas Dilemma, Friederike Mayröcker études, Christopher Norris Hunchback ’88, Michael O’Brien Sad Sad Boy

‘You can write a long book full of witty metaphors. You can rip off dead writers that graduate students write massive essays about. You can use a nature trope or talk about the heart or hide your emotional states by covering it up in ancient rhymes dolled up to impress the reader. But none of this will make you a better author. A better author casually allows you into their mind. They create a structure of their own design to allow the reader into a new reality. At some point, the reader might even begin to think of that author as a friend they once knew. A better author writes in a way that isn’t pedagogical. Their writing isn’t trying to teach or prove anything other than the fact that they are alive and interacting with an imperfect world where everything is fucked. Zac Smith is that better author. …

‘His stories, much like his poetry, come off as so simple that people likely don’t believe he has to put much effort into it at all. And that would be a gross misrepresentation of what he really does and how much work truly goes into writing a story that is so fluid that it feels like it could’ve just been a snapshot from your own mind. A moment. An anecdote. A feeling. A vibe. Zac is a master of all genres and is privy to the ways that words work and how to use them to evoke the maximum amount of emotion possible. I, myself, won’t even bother classifying where this collection falls under genres. It just simply exists. Very similar to the characters in his stories. They are not people dealing with intense trepidations or on a character journey of any kind. They simply are. And that’s totally fine.

‘We live in a burning trash can fire these days and Zac has discovered a way to make that feel ok. He lives in the intersection of absurdism and realism at all times. Not within the confines of the book, but as a person himself. He is a millennial who knows how to write about millennials. This collection contains surreal and inventive stories ranging from six sentences to several pages. All of them dripping with truth, apathy, and comedy. I do not believe that generations above or below ours will love this collection just as much as we do because, at their best, these stories come off as inside jokes. Dorky observations. They’re a kind of situational comedy that I believe that our generation exclusively deals with. That’s not to say that this can’t be loved by everyone. It just hits us a bit harder. But the minute you read it, you feel part of the gang. Don’t take my word for it. I had to pass this book to a few Gen Z kids and one Gen Xer to get their opinions. They like it. They enjoy it. They finally kind of understand why we feel the way that we feel and that’s all because of the uninhibited voice that Zac used to portray the weird situations we find ourselves in. This isn’t just a book to read and put on your bookshelf. It’s one to be passed along so other people can get just as into the hype as you are. It’s metamodernism at its best. Kmart realism at its weirdest. A book with no real agenda and doesn’t take itself too seriously. Read this book. Enjoy it. Laugh with it. And feel soothed about the fact that every fucked up feeling you’re having is something that someone else is having at the exact same time and that’s totally fine.’ — Mallory Smart


Zac Smith Site
Zac Smith @ Twitter
Buy ‘Everything is Totally Fine’


Zac Smith Everything is Totally Fine
Muumuu House

‘A collection of weird, surreal, inventive stories ranging from six sentences to eight pages. Animals in this book include ants, mice, birds, dogs, octopuses, sharks, whales. Settings include kitchens, bathrooms, camping grounds, gas stations, graveyards, rocket ships, golf courses. Activities include driving, converting files, setting things on fire, eating pizza, showering, planking, and visiting the White House.’ — Muumuu House

‘Stories that will surprise you again and again with touching revelations about the lonely insanity of our world. Refreshingly bold and insane.’ — Mark Leidner


The Very Good Dog

The very good dog slept in a little dog bed outside the toddler’s room all night. In the morning, the dad woke up and peed. The very good dog woke up and trotted to the back door. The dad opened the back door and the very good dog trotted down the steps and into the grass and peed. The very good dog sat on the bottom stair and looked up at the phone lines that hung over the little back yard. The very good dog saw a squirrel scamper across the phone lines. The very good dog barked and ran after the squirrel. The squirrel got distracted by the barking maybe and fell from the phone line. The very good dog ran after the squirrel and cornered it against a concrete wall. The squirrel attempted to scamper up the concrete wall. The very good dog bit the squirrel in the neck. The very good dog shook its head around and snapped the squirrel’s neck. The very good dog rolled around in the squirrel blood and ate a large amount of hot, raw squirrel meat and gnawed on the raw, hot squirrel bones. The dad opened the door and saw the dead squirrel remains and the blood-covered very good dog and said “holy shit.” He shut the door. He thought vaguely about plastic bags, hoses, towels, calling the veterinarian, etc. He thought about love and joy in spite of the never-ending bullshit. He opened the door again and looked at the very good dog covered in blood and said “holy fucking shit” very quietly.


I’m Not Here to Commit Any Crimes

The first family I found was camping in an RV near the woods.
white“Woof woof,” I said to the little girl playing with a toy monster truck near the campfire.
white“Doggie!” she said, and ran over.
whiteHer mother stepped out of the camper with a metal spatula, looked at me, and started yelling. She told me to get the fuck away from her daughter. I stepped back and held up my hands like a person does, which means: Everything’s cool, I’m not here to commit any crimes.
white“Sorry,” I said, “I’m a dog.”
white“Doggie!” said the girl.
white“That’s right,” I said. I smiled, even though dogs don’t smile unless it’s hot out, and it wasn’t that hot out. I was trying to look nice.
whiteThe mom told me I wasn’t a dog. But she didn’t sound really confident.
whiteThe dad came out of the RV holding a big stick with a feather tied to the top of it with some twine. It looked like a fun camping craft activity. He looked nervous. It felt like he didn’t know what was happening. But if he were a dog, he would have barked at me and bared his teeth and I would have known to run off scared. Or, if I thought I could take him, I would bare my teeth and wrestle with him on the ground to prove it. I would grab him by the neck and start kicking at his stomach. I would try to break the skin and pull out his intestines. I would try to bite his neck and face until he whimpered off and died. But we both just stood there looking at each other instead, like people do. It’s different but like, also the same thing kind of.
whiteI asked them if they wanted to adopt a dog. I was talking about myself. I wanted them to adopt me. The dog. The mom told me to leave. That meant no.
white“Okay,” I said. The dad didn’t say anything. He looked relieved.
white“Bye, Doggie!” the little girl said. She waved goodbye. I turned and walked back into the woods.





‘What is the best thing an artist can be? Intelligent, brave, curious, …seen? I think many people might answer that an artist should be able to find beauty in this world—an aesthete. I would say that, paramount to any other quality, the best thing an artist can be is unexpected. And Vi Khi Nao’s work is always unexpected. She is a singular artist who juxtaposes language, characters, and elements of plot in ways that expose undiscovered relationships and highlight the surreality and certain sad beauty of our everyday lives.

The Vegas Dilemma, Vi Khi Nao’s newest work, is a collection of stories broken into three parts which predominantly center around a nameless character as they roam around Las Vegas, doing menial everyday tasks like grocery shopping, going to Starbucks, or ordering doughnuts (the character is motivated a lot by food). The Vegas Dilemma is a book about loneliness: a desperate modern loneliness that explores how distant we feel from each other despite the access to many things that can bring us together—like buses on paved streets, airports, and the internet. As the reader moves through each part, the nameless character’s world is featured less and less as something tangible. Without a name, that character seems to infiltrate the worlds of each of the twenty-seven short stories in this collection until we reach reach the last entry, which is a dizzying love letter told in poetic fragments that bounce all over the country as the lovers dissipate into metaphysical body parts and memories. …

‘Because The Vegas Dilemma is so unexpected, it can sometimes be difficult to understand the work at first glance. It doesn’t follow a traditional plot structure and it uses language in new and original ways. These challenges are the heart of this book—readers must rethink and restructure how they understand love and longing. In essence, it makes a reader truly meditate on the idea of loneliness.’ — Chicago Review of Books


Vi Khi Nao Site
Vi Khi Nao @ Twitter
Vi Khi Nao @ goodreads
Vi Khi Nao by Louis Elliott
Buy ‘The Vegas Dilemma’


Vi Khi Nao The Vegas Dilemma
11:11 Press

The Vegas Dilemma, a collection of twenty-seven short stories, weaves a vision of contemporary America through the eyes of its outcasts. Set largely in Las Vegas, featuring a recurring character of a footloose, morose woman who likes to eat Cheerios in grocery stores, each story takes up quotidian concerns—staying in Starbucks past closing time, a visit to Hoover Dam, falling in love over Instagram—and mines them for their political and existential undercurrents, which fly off the stories like sparks from a pinwheel. A cycle of stories—”Pulverized Oat Wheels,” “Mother Nature is Belligerent”, “Symmetry of Provocation”, etc.—make use of a vignette style to suture seemingly disparate scenarios and emotions. Thus, in “Not Capable of Giving her Leprosy” we meet a sexually exploitative American professor at a South Korean University; a reading group who meet in Starbucks to discuss the ethics of eating meat while reading The Vegetarian; palm trees that are mistaken for armadillos; and Walmart identified as a nerve agent. Other stories, such as “Your Sadness is Salt on Salt” and “In My Youth My Father Is Short and Poor,” use a sparse first-person voice for more poetic effect. Connected by themes of alienation, bad romance, and microaggressions, The Vegas Dilemma combines the inventiveness of fiction and the richness of everyday life to show that such American tragedies as Trump’s ascendency and the Weinstein scandal aren’t divorced from everyday interactions, but arise from them.’ — 11:11 Press


from Symmetry of Provocation

Her father’s girlfriend was bisexual. Her father feared that she would be interested in his daughter, so now they avoided spending time with her. When his girlfriend gave his daughter a red dress, her father thought she was hitting on his daughter. He grew jealous and afraid of losing her. When his girlfriend invited them to dine together at The Black Sheep, run by Vietnamese executive chef Jamie Tran, her father became livid. He thought that his girlfriend wanted to court his daughter too. Meanwhile, his daughter sat alone in the kitchen, eating non-fishy meals and fighting back tears. Outside of her father’s social circle, she had no social life. Her father’s friends and lovers were her friends. She didn’t know how to make her own friends.

So when she saw her father at Smith’s, she pretended that it wasn’t him. She felt his low self-esteem under the low, bright light of Smith’s. During their long marriage before the divorce, her mother would remind him that he was a useless, penniless, namby-pamby man. Each time he tried to be intimate with her, she could hear through the thin wall of their adjacent bedrooms her mother asking him, ‘Are you useless?’

He would reply candidly, ‘I am useless.’

‘What is the size of your penis, useless man?’ she asked him.

‘Very small.’

‘What kind of a man did I marry?’

‘A coward.’

‘And what else?’

‘A useless coward.’

‘What else?’

‘A useless coward with a tiny penis.’

‘See how fast you’re learning?’

His daughter wasn’t the type to see a glass as half-full or half-empty. She had a practical way of viewing the world.

When she sat alone eating by herself for weeks and months, her father not allowing her to join in his dining experiences with his girlfriend, she thought, ‘Does my father ever pity me or even love me?’ She didn’t want him to feel guilty for his happiness, but could he be truly happy if she wasn’t?

As time passed, it dawned on her that her father was capable of enjoying happiness without her. In fact, he enjoyed his happiness more when she wasn’t a part of it.

Meanwhile the father thought: his girlfriend was amazing at giving fellatio. He’d had to force his ex-wife to do it, but his girlfriend begged for it. So tossing his daughter aside was something he had to do. His happiness over her happiness. Life made him choose. So he chose. But could his daughter blame him? He had slaughtered so many chickens for his family. For thirty years, all he knew was chickens. It wasn’t selfish now, was it, his wanting something for himself? If his girlfriend were to involve his daughter in their plans, he got the feeling that she would get into his daughter too. His daughter wasn’t pretty but she was endowed with charisma. And charisma is a superior asset than beauty. Beauty ages, but charisma is timeless. Beauty is subjective, but charisma is universal. Beauty is temporary, but charisma lives on. He feared that his girlfriend would choose charisma over him. He wasn’t a handsome man, but he had a smile and a warmness that drew others to him. It was the primary reason why his girlfriend learned how to say ‘I love you’ in Vietnamese.


Vi Khi Nao Talk

Three Questions with Vi Khi Nao




‘Friederike Mayröcker is one of the most important and prolific comtemporary Austrian poets. Even now, well into her nineties, she is composing gorgeous, profound and experimental volumes of poetry like études which was just translated from the German by Donna Stonecipher and published by Seagull Books. Etudes are small musical compositions, of considerable difficulty, designed to provide practice material in order to master a specific musical skills Mayröcker ‘s composes 200 pages of prose poems, varying in length from a few sentences to a few pages, that feature her innovative experiments with language, punctuation and grammar. Her topics are nature, memory, writing and art. The poems are not given specific titles, but are usually dated and oftentimes dedicated to a friend.

‘The poet often finds herself wandering through the woods or her garden or opening her window and listening to the sounds of nature. In this one short excerpt she moves us from the image of a magnolia tree to a blossoming branch, to a leaf; her bucolic surroundings bring about other memories—in this instance the work of Francis Ponge (a French essayist and poet that developed a form of prose poem which explores the minutiae of everyday objects) and an early memory of her childhood and her mother.

‘One of my favorite side effects of reading this collection is the new books and new artists that I’ve discovered. I read this collection slowly, over the course of the last few weeks while in lockdown–my attention span for reading hasn’t been great–but I’ve have found it very soothing to explore her poetry and various rabbit holes down which she sent me. Mayröcker mentions in one poem, “and everyone asks what are you reading these days &c” and she answers this time and again in just about every poem. Old favorites, Goethe, Schiller, Musil, and T.S. Eliot, and Handke are comforting to her. But she also reads widely from different languages (Jean Genet is a favorite of hers) and different periods of time.’ — The Book Binder’s Daughter


Friederike Mayröcker @ Wikipedia
Friederike Mayröcker by Jonathan Larson
Hans Ulrich Obrist on Friederike Mayröcker
Friederike Mayröcker – Tumult, ferocity, flow, exaltation, immersion
Buy ‘études’


Friederike Mayröcker études
Seagull Books

‘Tumult, ferocity, flow, exaltation, immersion: Friederike Mayröcker, among the world’s greatest living writers, reinterprets literary vocation as total theater. Swimming through the language-tide, she cuts syntax into new folds and undulations. Responding to her gestural commands, words form constellations, clusters, diaristic strings of inference.’ — Wayne Koestenbaum

‘Friederike Mayrocker enjoys a growing reputation as a writer whose art insistently crosses the boundaries between literary forms. Her prose is lyrical, and draws on the work of a wide range of modernist writers, from Gertrude Stein to Virginia Woolf. Beckett and Thomas Bernhard have also influenced her style of bombarding the reader with a mixture of realistic and fantastic images. The device forces the reader to participate in the mental drama which supplants narrative in her work.’ — Times Literary Supplement


exercise of the summer: zenith: with bare feet, magnolia tree, while working on this book the idea of a sm. exercise persisted: étude of a blossoming branch, of a little leaf in my hand, a Swiss pine LINE by the unprepossessing Francis Ponge &c., back then from the living-room window Mother’s head, she waved to be for a long time while I ran down the street turning back again and again to wave, she was already fragile but she smiled in this film &c.



Radius, tiniest of beautiful language, blushing flower up to the neck, drops Snowdrops in the cup in the glass namely the headling almost suffocating namely in the glass in the cup TEEMING handed over by friend’s hand radius with red thread bow (history) of by friend’s hand TEEMING in the glass in the cup that the tears namely Johann Sebastian Bach’s Invention No. 6 in E-Major through the airs. 1 dark open wing grand piano, hornbeam’s bark at the edge of the alleyway, he says, the blushing flower he says, roughly TEEMING Snowdrops, roughly head to head, with whispering headling roughly and how they touch each other namely TEEMING : flattening hairstyles, with white hands body to body, he says, threadlet to threadlet in the cup in the glass ie musicbooklet with rosy sleeve isn’t it : tearflood or so, the tears the teeth namely farrowling . . . . . . Judasthinker and -shutter musicbooklet fiery rain, the green lances of the skyshore, skysprigs of Lenz’s etc.
Blown out Föhnlet, how it mouths



“namely as the lilac bush bloomed my parents went out to a bowling club I was still very small when my parents went out to a bowling club I remember I had no siblings my mother wore 1 tight-fitting short dress she was very beautiful and melancholy she had waved hair and cried often namely as the lilac bush bloomed I remember my grandmother on my mother’s side sat me on 1 bench in the Rubenspark and held my hand, it was winter ’27 I remember my grandfather pulled me onto his lap and started to play his concertina then I got very sick namely as the lilac bush bloomed I remember the world was painted in impasto and I was afraid …….. this motto (was) incidental …….. I remember namely as the locust trees bloomed and the dog Teddy came into the house I let it all wash over me and my youngest aunt wore 1 pleated dress my father seemed anxious and hardly spoke, no one read to me and no songs were sung, the moon shone onto my bed and the stars, SANK DOWN, namely gradually language blossomed and we ran in a circle as the lilac bush bloomed in the schoolyard I remember. All typewriters I remember, namely thought processes everything that fluttered off, namely ……..”



Galerie nächst St. Stephan | Lesung Friederike Mayröcker

Friederike Mayröcker – Fest mit Weggefährtinnen




Hunchback ‘88 is a book… or a novel mirror of haunted house ferox… or a puzzle in no rush to be solved… or a plot dug in ocean mist… or a moment that exists between flesh-stab and blood… or a cannibal moon of terror… or an oozing artifact… or pus to the slasher night… or youth coming apart… or an eye-rolling task of which none the dumb words above help make it sense.

‘Christopher Norris, the notoriously misanthropic artist behind bands like Against Me!, Atom & His Package, and United Nations, has penned a book about bodies coming apart. …

‘…a syncopic fade-to-black about 2/3 of the way through Hunchback ‘88, black pages, clutching sensation of death and smothering, is a particularly compelling trope of horror movies, Texas Chainsaw Massacre for instance—a relatively bloodless and rather slowly burning movie—builds to an intermediate crescendo at which the protagonist, Sally (Salleeeeeeeeeeeeey), is driven to unconsciousness through psychological trauma, what she wakes up to, and what we wake up to in Hunchback ’88 after the syncope, is a third act of almost plotless (relative to the first 2/3) visceral horror, it is a tremendously effective mechanism that propagates the experiential characteristics of the reader/viewer directly with the content and structure of the work… the trope is used elsewhere in film… Martyrs, Frankenstein’s Army, The Descent, and House of the Devil come to mind. This is the first experience I have had of it in a text…

Hunchback ‘88 is a book that is cinematic not at the discursive level but at the presentational level. It is not cinematically representational; it is cinematically performative. There is not much doubt that humans will continue their infatuation with the moving image. Although its artifice is sure to change, and is changing already from the static composition of the film to the elective stream of video games and the self-curated fragmentation of social media (stand over someone’s shoulder watching a bunch of Instagram stories and try to ignore its bizarre relationship to Eisenstein’s montage). The mechanics that movies have adopted from literature are maturing into their own entities. Surely this will loop around through culture as everything does, as it has, and what I’ve been interested in here is the mature state of what literature began adopting from cinema 75 years ago, where it stands alone yet again.’ — John Trefry


Christopher Norris @ Twitter
Christopher Norris @ goodreads
An Interview with Christopher Norris About His New Horror Novel, ‘Hunchback ’88’
Thru the Disintegration Loop: On Christopher Norris’ Hunchback 88 by Mike Corrao
Buy ‘Hunchback ’88’


Christopher Norris Hunchback ’88
Inside the Castle

Hunchback ‘88 is the new-ish debut novel from Christopher Norris (formerly of Combatwoundedveteran). The novel is ostensibly a simple slasher story but it’s presentation is what makes it great. This novel is probably the most formally daring work I’ve read in years. Revolting and erotic in equal measures. Norris finds his own rhythms in obstructing the reader’s understanding of what exactly is going on page-to-page. Hunchback is thrilling to read in the same way that novels like A Clockwork Orange and Trainspotting were in High School.’ — The Chain World


Small grey room. Small. No windows, no observation booth, no exits to be outlined for a mind-map or hiding in plain sight. Total minimalism: a trap. Feels like a trap… Dangling low on the world’s grossest wire from a ceiling of infinite shadow and mystery and plumbing: a bare bulb strikes below-barren light. Under that: a large Formica table. Under that: two wooden chairs tucked and parked across from each other… and those chairs appear to be melting? From the hall they do anyway; thick brown snot covering a lounging skeleton watching itself watch itself. Confidence mirror cracked. Across the room, the other side of the table, against the far wall, a smaller, also Formica-topped, table with one of those old VHS/TV combo units sitting dust, turned on; screen a dark wobbly looking magenta… slight sudden fuzz breaks across it during my short gaze—I blink once, space out, blink again, turn back into the hall and black, look back into the room and… Place my left palm on the red gloss, it is warm, maybe hot, yank away with a shake before the burn can really get tested. Steps start, slow, continue until I’m standing at the first table, between the two sweaty chairs, looking down at a mound of shredded paper cleanly sculpted and peaked in twists of wormy construct. A cone. A small head dunce cap. Next to it: a paperback-sized stack of yellowed papers. I flip the yoked top sheet, which is blank, the next page: The Creamiest Babysitter.


Ecphonesis: The face—glabrous, white, feminine with the creasings of a perpetual scowl over rotten teeth and dead black eyelids—flashes on the screen for 1/8th of a second in The Exorcist. / A sentence consisting of a single word or short phrase ending with an exclamation point.

Ellipse: The camera in Taxi Driver is shifting away from Travis calling Betsy from a payphone to spare us the agony of watching his rejection, but it only heightens the agony. / The suppression of ancillary words to render an expression more lively or more forceful.

Parataxis: In the passenger seat of Michel’s car, the flickering camera of Breathless on Patricia through the streets of Paris, gestures interrupted, quality of light abruptly changing. / Using juxtaposition of short, simple sentences to connect ideas, as opposed to explicit conjunction.

Adjunction: The camera passes over a doffed tuxedo and evening gown strewn across the floor, past a fire in the fireplace, to Roger Moore as James Bond’s awkward post-coital kissing—was Sir Roger capable of anything but awkward kissing?—with Countess Lisl von Schlaf in For Your Eyes Only. / When a verb is placed at the beginning or the end of a sentence instead of in the middle.

Non sequitur: A femur is flying against a pale sky a satellite is drifting against the blackness of space in 2001: A Space Odyssey. / A statement bearing no relationship to the preceding context.

Paraprosdokian: Danny rides his bigwheel through the abandoned hotel corridors in The Shining, weaving, racing across different floor coverings, racing in great loops, into a dead end where young twin girls ominously stand waiting for him. / A sentence in which the latter half takes an unexpected turn.

Enjambment: In a shot of Meet the Parents Ben Stiller nervously leans against a white tile wall chewing nicotine gum, in the reverse shot a skimpy men’s bathing suit hangs from a clothes hanger over the back of a wooden chair. / The continuing of a syntactic unit over the end of a line.

Anadiplosis: Sergeant Nicholas Angel in Hot Fuzz is on the tube holding his Japanese peace lily, and holding his Japanese peace lily on the platform of a rural train station. / Repeating the last word of one clause or phrase to begin the next.

Epanalepsis: As the camera pans in It Follows, through a window a girl in a white shirt and jeans distance is innocuously walking toward its axis of rotation and it continues to pan, across the protagonists Jay and Greg, across a host of other extras, the interior of the building, and pans back out the window where the girl in the white shirt and jeans is even closer than before, still walking. / A figure of speech in which the same word or phrase appears both at the beginning and at the end of a clause.

Diction (Poetic): The nimble camera of Tenebre crawls across the facade of a house, slowly, uninterruptedly poring over every architectural detail, intermittently presenting useful framed views of its occupants. / “Every word is either current, or strange, or metaphorical, or ornamental, or newly-coined, or lengthened, or contracted, or altered.” -Aristotle

Ignoratio elenchi: Fixation on a childhood drawing in Deep Red seems to reveal that Carlo is the murderer, when in fact it is his mother. / A conclusion that is irrelevant.

Alliteration: Madeleine shimmering in a green silk dress in Ernie’s restaurant, Madeleine in a green Jaguar on the streets of San Francisco, emerald green boxes stacked in Podesta Baldocchi florists, Madeleine floating in the green water beneath the Golden Gate Bridge, Jane in a green sweater and skirt standing between two green Podesta Baldocchi delivery trucks, the vaporous green glow of the Empire Hotel sign washing over Jane/Madeleine emerging from the bathroom, the luminous green sheer curtains silhouetting her figure in Vertigo. / The conspicuous repetition of identical initial consonant sounds in successive or closely associated syllables within a group of words. (Or more generally, a way of creating rhythm that is independent of time.)


Hunchback ’88 (trailer)

“I Have All The Skin From When I Was Larger.” (Hunchback ’88 Version)




feeling like shit in the happiest place on earth

I had scheduled an interview with the post office but I couldn’t make it due to the fact I’m finding it hard to breath. Likely story. Anyway, I’m at the doctors now – more accurately I’m in a queue to see a receptionist. My number comes up. She gives me a torturous time. I am sweating and dying. Wonderful. On one side of her cubicle are two pictures of cats. One is smiling in a photoshop kinda way. The other is a cat in a more natural pose. Seems like it might be her cat. Maybe her cat that died. I don’t really know.

She thumps away at her keyboard. She thumps away at me with questions. All I say is here is my European health-card. I am sick. Let me see a doctor, please. On the other cubicle wall is a picture of a woodpecker in a lovely pastoral setting feeding its young. I get the sense the receptionist is not into woodpeckers. I get through the questions and forms. I see a nurse first and she takes bloods and that kind of thing. Finally get to see the doctor. He is thorough, competent and polite. A good boy. He doesn’t waste words and tells me little. He sends me for more bloods and a throat swab. I head back to my flat. At the flat I take a nap. Wake up and drink coffee. I wait for blood results. I hear the woodpecker. I think he is smacking against the lampposts again. It’s also raining. — MO’B

Michael O’Brien is the author of, most recently, Silent Age (Alien Buddha Press). His writing has been published widely in print and on the internet, and translated into other languages. An extensive list of these publications can be found here. He is also the curator of Weird Laburnum. You can follow him on twitter @michaelobrien22


Michael O’Brien @ Twitter
underneath the blooming laburnum
weird laburnum
Preorder ‘Sad Sad Boy’


Michael O’Brien Sad Sad Boy
Back Patio Press

sad sad boy is a weird weird book. It’s short and sparse, filled with like 50 quick hitters. It’s a bit like the book version of a 12 minute grindcore album, really. It’s also like a grindcore album in how strange it is. There were quite a few ‘stories’ (or poems, or whatever) that went straight over my head no matter how many times I read them. But that’s okay, they were only 100 words long – max. Maybe I’m just stupid? Anyway, there were loads of really great little numbers in here that made me laugh, and loads that made me feel sad, and most of them did both. Even the ones I didn’t understand elicited some kind of emotional response from me. Great little book. Works perfectly as a palette cleanser. I highly recommend.’ — james



john denver was born in roswell (4 haiga)

Mole Poetics (w Johannes S. H. Bjerg)




p.s. Hey. ** David Ehrenstein, Harriet Hilliard is new to me. How charming. ** Dominik, Hi!!!! Me too re: that ticket out. Although at the time I was in high school it was the late hippie era, and the school wound up setting up this policy where if you didn’t want to participate in the sports, as long as you suited up and did a few callisthenics at the beginning, you could sit along a wall and read books or whatever and get an automatic D in the class, which of course is what I (and about 15 other weirdo longhair types) did. In fact I found my first real boyfriend amongst those other lazy hippie stragglers. That eerie pic is of an upcoming slave I found. I definitely want the morgue chocolates, thank you, and as far as my free gift artwork, hm, it would be hard to pass up having a Mike Kelley, so maybe ‘Castrati Satan’. My barren walls thank your love. Have a funner than fun weekend! Love turning one of my ears into a pencil sharpener, G. ** David, I figured you did. Okay, wow, I’m going to read your poem later because if I were to give it its due right now I would be doing this p.s. for hours, but I will devour it when my time is at peace, thank you! ** Maria, Isabella, Camila, Malaria, Gabriela, Ha ha ha, you’re so funny. And a very fine minimalist poet, I might add. Bon weekend, y’all. ** Bill, Glad it worked for you. As a giant fan and very frequent consumer of seitan, I will go read that enticing think piece as soon as I push ‘publish’. Thanks, buddy. Weekend of note? ** Shane, Hi. Ah, awesome! If I’d remembered that Orbital track I would have slotted it in. Great add. Thanks a bunch. ** Steve Erickson, Hi. Oh, first … Everybody, More Satanic goodness courtesy of Mr. Erickson: ‘For anyone with 52 minutes to spare, sigilkore artist sellasouls offers a mixtape of his best low-fi, ASMR-rap attempts to invoke demons.’ I thoroughly enjoyed your vodcast. Really rangy and really interesting, and nice to see you and see/hear you talk. Thank you about my chat with Ryan. And thank you for wishing for one of my life’s dreams to come true. Where there’s a will (and a ton of money) there’s a way, right? Good luck with the onslaught from the sky. ** geymm, Hi, G. I’m very happy to have inadvertently fulfilled your longing. Me too: the ceramics. You good? Gooder than good? ** Right. As you have already seen, I am sharing five books I read and loved of late, like I do here once in a while, and my recommendation that you follow suit goes without saying, I’m sure. See you on Monday.


  1. Ferdinand

    Howdy Dennis. This morning your bday playlist someone called Andrew i think was nice enuff to turn into a spotify playlist is the soundtrack to my cloudy saterday. Adding plenty of them to another playlist for when a friend comes over later to cook a special greek chicken recipe. Book recomendation from me: Animal by Lisa Taddeo, so far very good. Have a groovy sat and sunday. – F

  2. David

    Thanks Dennis yep it is a long long poem 😄 I actually put it in the online reader and listened to it rather than read it myself…. i ain’t no fool!! I giggled hard whilst doing my run yesterday… thinking of you seeing it and going WTF? this goes on forever….

    Perhaps you could get one of your slaves to read it to you… or a number to actually act it out….

    I jerked off yesterday imagining I was being bribed into doing all this fucked up sexual stuff… it was both messed up and cool… part of the bribe was I was being given 500 pounds… it seemed very real…on completion… the visuals faded but I tried to grab the money…. alas it also disintegrated… so I wiped myself off… damn!!!

    Have a great weekend!!

  3. Dominik


    Thank you for the recommendations! I’d find it hard to top “I’m Not Here to Commit Any Crimes” and “meditation school for the sad boys” right now.

    Okay, I’m not even in high school anymore, but I’m wildly jealous. Sitting around with a bunch of long-haired weirdos and reading books is in an absolutely ridiculous contrast with my traumatising PE classes.

    Do you have any special plans for the weekend? Apart from some video chatting with friends, I’m hoping to spend mine with books. As always, haha.

    When I was in kindergarten, I checked whether I could sharpen my little finger with a pencil sharpener. I couldn’t, but it did tear out half of my nail. So, you know, don’t try it with your ear! Love shyly offering you the new book in his beloved cowboy series, this time with the blurb “Training for the Winter Olympics via BDSM? Yes.”, Od.

  4. David Ehrenstein

    Dennis, don’t tell me you never saw “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet” !

    Fredeike Meyer looks like she means business. Great photo.

    MyGoFundMe page is still in operation

  5. Maria, Isabella, Camila, Malaria, Gabriela

    Maria Isabella Camila Malaria Gabriela is a very fine minimalist poet!!!?
    HEY! HEY!!!!
    thanking Coops!!!
    You make a me very happy!
    I am as good as a Sylvia Plath no?
    Better! HEY!
    I tell you I put many, many heads in the gas ovens across the years!
    She just a put in a the one!!! I like!!
    I will now have celebration of cooked chicken and potato bravos!!!
    ahhh! thanking you Mr Cooper

  6. Tao Lin

    Glad you enjoyed Zac’s book. Thanks for including it in this list.

  7. _Black_Acrylic

    Vi Khi Nao’s Vegas Dilemma caught my beady eye here as I’m always eager for some short story action.

    I’ve developed my own story a bit to take in something of your recent CGI suggestion. The protagonist is a boy running around his garden and his name is now DaveyRavey2010xy2.0. His silent father appears as a floating head that he struggles to avoid and I’m not yet sure how to resolve the conflict. But things are getting going, for sure.

    Dad was up fairly early and has eaten a bit of chocolate croissant which must be a good sign I think. Maybe later we’ll watch some of the African Cup of Nations? Egypt v Morocco is on at 3pm so that will be welcome.

  8. Bill

    Sad Sad Boy is odd (odd). That John Denver Roswell video is pretty funny.

    Saw Assayas’ Demonlover. No Personal Shopper, but pretty fun for a mostly stay-at-home weekend. Also my first Jerzy Kawalerowicz, Night Train. Very different obviously, but both have some really nice camerawork.


  9. Steve Erickson

    Coincidentally, my aunt published a novel on Friday!

    Thanks for the praise re: my vodcast. I really enjoyed filming it. I wish I still owned the Korg synthesizer I mentioned.

    The snowstorm yesterday was pretty to watch from my apartment, although we got down to the coldest weather of the winter as well, but now the streets here are a slushy mess.

  10. T

    Hey Dennis. And ahhh, more cool books. I especially vibed with Friederike Mayröcker, particularly the one 17.3.11. The literary schoolkid/technique geek in me also got quite flushed with excitement with the Christopher Norris excerpt. I’m staggering my way through Ulysses at the minute, I don’t know why I’ve just decided to take on big bruisers over the last few months, but I did promise myself that I wouldn’t buy new stuff until I’d got through my 5-year-strong to-read pile. How was the weekend with you? As I type this I’ve just come back from a very spur of the moment Paris trip, where I just hung out at this really cool cinema called La Clef, saw a couple of films and then got a takeaway dinner of deep-fried Algerian food, so it’s been a pretty cushty day as they come. Hope your week comes to you piping hot and dripping in fat, xT.

  11. geyyymm

    Hi Dennis, well then you might be pleased to know that you’ve inadvertently fulfilled my longing quite a few times [laughing devil emoji]…
    I love the extract you’ve posted from Vi Khi Nao. I want to read more of her stuff. Thanks for your exciting recommendations.
    I’m good, thanks, definitely not ‘gooder’ tho; things have been emotionally hard, the combination of work+family-related stress has been a bit overwhelming, but I’m managing because there are some beautiful things I’m looking forward to – like the 10th of March [wink + heart] & my brother’s return & spring… Hbu? Hope you had a splendid weekend? xoxo

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