The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Author: DC (page 2 of 537)

DC’s theoretically favorite haunted house attractions of the Halloween season 2019, part 2: North American edition *

* (Halloween countdown post #6)


Lemp Brewery Haunted House
St. Louis

The all-new Lemp Brewery Haunted House is ready to make you scream. House of Occult located deep underground where NO ONE CAN HEAR YOU SCREAM. Come face to face with demons, confusing mazes, inside a pitch black cavern of the occult. Lemp Brewery is the most famous haunted place in American prepare to go into the abyss to scream Are you ready for St Louis’ only REAL haunted house bring your friends and scream together.



Castle of Chaos
Salt Lake City

Castle of Chaos started providing truly extreme events during the 2018 Halloween season. Their overnight events, currently offered monthly, run from 10pm to sunrise. Since this is literally an underground haunted house, participants may have difficulty knowing how much longer they have left. They offer five levels, each with an associated contact level. Level 1 will repel monsters, while level 4 will add in full contact. But Level 5 will attract the most aggressive contact from the monsters inside.

As the night begins to unfold, this experience starts with escape room-like gameplay. But, unlike most escape rooms, guests will be snatched from the comfort of their group for intimate, one-on-one physical interrogations. For the rest of the night, a common room serves as a home base where participants can watch horror movies with the other surviving guests, or try to sleep between visits from the tormentors who will be more than happy to show off the “special” rooms of the haunted house. Just remember, guests are never truly alone; the tormentors will remember everything – and may offer sadistic bargains to lessen the torture, but according to the waiver, they also may lie.

The physical intensity is high, but can be increased beyond the base level by request when guests are videotaped reading the waiver. Most people do not make it through the entire night – even with the default intensity. Although there is a safeword, it can also be waived on video, but guests might not enjoy the results of doing so…




Miasma: a terror experience is an adults only, immersive horror experience. Guests enter alone, must sign a waiver, and comply with everything Miasma requests of them.

Guests will encounter tense physical and psychological situations and are encouraged to heed all miasma warnings before choosing to participate. A safety word is provided for those who wish to end their experience for any reason.

Located in the 60657 zip code, the exact location is revealed to guests only twenty four hours before the event with instructions on how to proceed. Miasma is personal, extreme, and not for the faint of heart.



Eerie Acres Farm
Butler, PA

Eerie Acres Farm’s haunted house is the stuff of nightmares. WE FARM FEAR. Inside, demented surgeons, raving lunatics, and blood-curdling clowns creep around corners and behind curtains. WE FARM FEAR. After fright-filled expeditions, the farm’s food trucks and beer garden provide welcome relief.



Sanctum of Horror
Mesa, AZ

The Kauls have been putting on Sanctum of Horror for more than a decade. It came to life 12 years ago as a small haunted house the family built at their four-bedroom Gilbert home and slowly evolved into a professional attraction.

“It was just this silly thing,” Shawn says. “Our kids came home after going to see a haunted house in a friend’s neighborhood and were like, ‘Can we do something like that in our garage?’ So we set up some black Visqueen in our three-car garage in this U-shaped path with makeshift operating tables and boiled pasta with food coloring for guts. It was corny, but fun.”

A lot’s changed with the haunt over the last decade. “It just kept getting bigger and more elaborate,” Shawn says. “We had all these tunnels and facades and things. We were spending $3,000 to $4,000 every year but didn’t want to stop doing it. We wanted to get more into it, so we decided to go pro.”

After six years at the Kaul residence, they started putting on Sanctum of Horror in the parking lot of Power Square Mall in Mesa in 2012. Two years later, they moved to Superstition Springs Mall. The Kauls estimate that several thousand people visit Sanctum of Horror each year, a far cry from the 120 that turned out back in 2006.

“We just keep getting bigger and bigger and bigger each year,” Shawn says. “It keeps on being a success, and we’ve got no plans to stop anytime soon.”



Anmore Manor
Anmore, BC

High up the winding hilltop, surrounded by a dark forest stands a lonely little house people refer to as Anmore Manor. The caretakers of the manor are said to be a little crazy and wander all hours of the night through the many halls and labyrinth of rooms. Hold on to all your limbs and watch out for the cannibals.



Pontiac, MI

Michigan’s Erebus Haunted Attraction has been named the number one haunted attraction in the United States by USA Today in its 2019 10 Best Readers’ Choice Travel Awards. The world-renowned 4-story fortress of fear kicks off its 20th season of spine-tingling chills and thrills this Friday, September 13.

Known for burying guests alive, its Dungeon of Dread filled with unnerving, tormented souls that make blood run cold, its Undead Dolls Quarter, where toys that once filled the dreams of children are now a living nightmare for adults, and more; Erebus consistently ranks as one of the world’s scariest haunts.



Fear Town
Seekonk, MA

Fear Town Haunted House is a massive, 45 minute long outdoor haunted attraction that is unlike anything you have ever experienced. Located deep in the woods at Seekonk Speedway, Fear Town will take you on a terrifying journey in and out of the run-down buildings that have been hidden for decades. As you progress through the trail, monsters will come at you from all angles to try and make you a permanent resident.



Bane Haunted House
New York City

Bane Haunted House was named “The Scariest Haunted House” by The Star-Ledger 5 years in a row and listed as one of the most terrifying in the nation by Buzzfeed. We play on every one of your fears; claustrophobic, separation anxiety, clowns, and more. This year Bane is even more interactive than ever with a brand new entrance and a terrifying exit! Get ready for the scare of your life!

Visitors may have to climb up, jump over, crawl through, and spin around what lurks inside the haunted house for a spine-chilling, interactive experience. We are the only haunted house in the state that does not use animatronics. We have 100+ live actors prepared to scare you within our 40,000 square foot building every night!



Haunted Hoochie
Pataskala, OH

Haunted Hoochie is advertised as “The Worlds Most Extreme Haunted House”. This is a strange haunted attraction that is working hard to make you sick. This is not your typical haunt attraction. It is very “hands on” and you should expect to be touched, grabbed, and maybe even choked or dragged. The unusual house opens Friday and Saturday from 8:30 pm until after the bars close. Thursday from 8:30 pm to midnight.



Kim’s Krypt Haunted Mill
Spring Grove, PA

Kim’s Krypt Haunted Mill in PA, is nestled on 64+ acres located in Spring Grove, PA. Kim Yates purchased this haunt in August of 2014 after falling in love with this old world haunt’s atmosphere. She’s is adamant about keeping the mystique and uniqueness alive in this legendary haunt by incorporating her own twist of creative treachery throughout. Once you experience and visit her attraction you will be hooked!



Terror on the Coast
Gulfport, MS

Two businessmen with connections to the movie industry are getting ready to present Terror on the Coast inside a huge warehouse in Gulfport. This haunted house promises to be unlike any other. “It’s going to be a very scary experience,” said Kevin Mitchell.

Mitchell and his business partner, Lawrence Barattini, have turned an abandoned warehouse into a haunted house called Terror on the Coast. The duo own thousands of movie props used in the film industry. They decided to build sets and use actors to create a frightful experience.
“This has been a dream of ours to bring this stuff to life and bring something to the Coast that the Coast has never seen with movie sets in a haunt,” Mitchell said.

Terror on the Coast is inside the old milk of magnesia plant off Highway 49. The brain trust behind the project provides film props and builds sets for the movie business in Louisiana, and they’ve brought it all to South Mississippi for Terror on the Coast. “You can expect motion picture quality props and set building. It’s not your typical haunted house. It’s over the top,” said Barattini.



Nightmare on Wolcott Street
Waterbury, CT

Nightmare on Wolcott Street reserve the right to refuse admission to anyone. You will experience intense audio lighting, extreme low visibility, strobe lights ,fog ,damp or wet floors, special effects, sudden actions, and an overall physically demanding environment. You should not enter haunted house if you suffer from asthma, heart condition, prone to seizures, physical ailments, respiratory or any other type of medical problems, or are pregnant or suffer any form of mental disease including claustrophobia.

Do Not Enter the attraction if you are intoxicated, wearing any form if cast, medical brace, using crutches, or have any type of physical limitations.

Do Not enter the attraction if you are taking medications or using drugs of any type. You will not be admitted if any of these conditions are to be notices by our staff.



Rutherford Manor
Edmonton, Alberta

Nox Flesher, was an exceptional child, always designing and creating gadgets for the family home. He was considerably younger than his siblings and spent a great deal of time on his own as a boy. Many called him peculiar, sullen and said he lived in his own world. As a young adult he became more withdrawn, and began focusing his resourcefulness on mastering the skills of his forefathers. Nox attended university and excelled in the sciences. He immersed himself in the study of biology, chemistry, physics and anatomy. While at school he met his longtime partner Lilith.

lilithLilith was timid; an outsider who rarely spoke with people. She preferred the company of her plants and animals. She studied botany and agriculture while at school and spent countless hours in the laboratory creating hybrid plants, germinating seeds and whispering to her lab creations. Lilith ran into Nox late one evening while looking for samples of night blooming Jasmine. Nox was seeking a nocturnal creature for analysis and study. Their mutual interest in alchemy and proclivity for invention made them kindred spirits. Nox and Lilith were inseparable after that fateful night.

As time progressed they have become increasingly secretive, feeding off each other’s dark obsessions and enabling each other’s distorted genius. The couple has two children, Mallory and Adolf; they were raised in isolation, without attention, discipline or affection. The two adolescents fend for themselves, while Nox and Lilith continue their pursuit of finding a sustainable food source. In the early days their experiments were carried out on animals, neighbors pets would go missing, wildlife taken from the grounds of the Manor. Lilith, working with her plants, dispensed apothecary to Nox to “inoculate” his specimens. She has mixed countless failed potions and destroyed many inferior plant hybrids. Nox invents crossbreeds as well, although his conceptions deviate from the horticultural arena Lilith endeavors to work in. His mongrels were born from animal, plant or humanoid composites. These hideous, pitiful creations suffered horribly during their short lives.



Cutting Edge Haunted House

Cutting Edge Haunted House is a dark attraction filled with terrifying live actors, amazing special effects and incredible monsters. Celebrating its new Guinness World Record, this intense, cutting edge, multi-story, multi-themed haunted attraction is widely considered to be one of the best Haunted Houses in the nation, full of chilling detail and unbelievable scares!

Located in a 100-year-old abandoned meat packing plant in a section of Fort Worth historically dubbed as “Hell’s Half Acre,” the Cutting Edge Haunted House is built upon a foundation of fear. The meat packing equipment from the Old West is still in use, but now it is a two-story human processing area. Realistic looking human mannequins are hoisted up to the second level and brought through the entire meat packing process until the conveyor system brings the butchered corpses back to the first level. The old meat-packing plant in downtown Fort Worth is a great home for the fantastic special effects that our loyal customers have come to expect.” It takes visitors an average 55 minutes to explore Cutting Edge Haunted House. The walk-through is replete with frighteningly-realistic props

Cutting Edge Haunted House has established a reputation for being one of the best haunted houses in the nation. The new Guinness World Record has helped to solidify Cutting Edge Haunted House’s standing as one of the country’s best and largest haunted houses. Come see what new horrors lurk in the twisting corridors of Fort Worth’s ultimate haunted house.



Escape from Blood Prison
Mansfield, OH

Doors slamming, visitors being pushed or touched, and equipment failure are some of the many experiences ghost hunters find when traipsing around the dark building during the twilight hours. The allure of such activity has sparked the interest of many paranormal shows that highlight haunted facilities such as the OSR. This magnificent haunted structure has been featured on My Ghost Story, Paranormal Challenge, Ghost Adventures, Ghost Hunters Academy, Ghost Hunters, and Scariest Places on Earth. There’s a lot of activity that happens in the darkness, and reports from investigators that paranormal activity is at its highest during and after Halloween because the spirits have been disturbed.

Plan to be immersed into the terrifying haunted prison culture. Throughout the prison areas, crazed inmates and guards roam, waiting to make you the next addition to their putrified hordes. With a band of criminals, guard clowns, insane iconic gangsters and madmen, be prepared to scream. With a seasoned cast of actors and fiends, prepare to be treated to a festival of fear. Plan a trip today, because this might just be the scariest haunt experience of your lifetime!



Chamber of Terror

After years of heinous crimes and vicious murders, Captain Berwick and his Henchman return with evil intentions. Although the ship and its many inhabitants are in a state of anarchy, they don’t dare disobey the Captain.

Once aboard, your life is at the mercy of Berwick and his malevolent crew. You will be lowered deep into the hull of the SS American Victory where evil is unleashed before your very eyes. As you tread through the dank depths of the ships cargo hold, sinister creatures and hostile soldiers lurk ready to strike. Enter the living quarters and make your way through the corridors where lost souls wander aimlessly.

Attempt to survive hordes of undead crew members while crossing the weather deck, as you venture through the ship you will witness the mayhem that Berwick and his crew inflict on their victims as you try to keep from becoming one of them. Evil is everywhere aboard this rotting vessel.

Will you survive this nautical nightmare?



Haunted Hollow
Warrenton, VA

This haunted trail in and around the barns of an abandoned haunted farm will leave you breathless or gasping for your last breath…come if you dare! There are no refunds! Enter at your own risk! You will experience intense audio and lighting, extreme low visibility, strobe lights, fog, damp or wet conditions, uneven footing and physically demanding environment. You acknowledge that you assume all risks of physical, emotional or mental injury and property damage.



Rockwell, NC

Boogerwoods is a walking trail through fourteen different scenes of murder, mayhem, madness, and mirth. Be prepared to do some walking, climbing stairs, sliding down slides, and squeezing through mazes. Nearly every scene has a building to enter and will require a step up (or step down when leaving). Your ever present guides are here to help with this, but in a group of 8 to 12 people, those in the middle may not hear the warning of steps to come. Just remember – if your guide says, “duck!” they mean duck and if your guide says, “get down,” it’s time to boogie!

Your guides, even though they are always in character, will always be there to help. For scenes you may not be able to handle, they will take you around the scene to meet up with your group. The guides are also equipped with flashlights and radios in case of any sort of emergency, or just to help navigate around roots and up stairs. The front-of-house staff are friendly and engaging; be sure to stop off in the merchandise booth to talk to the ladies about the history of the haunt.

Let your guide know if you have motion sickness!!!!!



Heartstoppers Haunted House
Rancho Cordoba, CA

The Saga of the Ghàst family continues, Steamghàst Asylum has jumped ahead 12 years and is now known as The Ward. A museum and hospital research facility with a dark secret.

Deadlands, the original zombie western haunt, is being greatly expanded to include some outdoor interactive scenes along with several new buildings.
Underland is being upgraded to incorporate many new characters and trippy 3D effects.

The dark catacombs of Murk have been shifted around with new creatures around every corner. How fast can you find your way out?!



Fright in Falcon
Colorado Springs

Strobe lights, fog machines, loud sounds, and other disorienting effects are used in this haunted house.

Anyone that experiences athsma, seizures, vertigo, or similar symptoms should not enter this haunted house.

It is our job to scare you. You enter this attraction at your own risk. By entering this attraction, you represent that you voluntarily and expressly agree to release, discharge, and hold Fright in Falcon and other patrons harmless from any and all legal liability, property damage, or medical liability, AND PERSONALLY ASSUME ALL RISKS.



Psycho Trail
Blackwood, NJ

“we wnt last year and it freaked me totally the fuck out, can’t wait to check it out in October”

“we went last year and hate clowns, and they had a 3d clown!!!!”

“wasn’t scary at all!!! the actors are all a bunch of kids that don’t know what theyre doing. only good things about this attraction are that its cheap and the lines arent long… but thats only because no one wants to go to it”



Dr. Radley’s Nightmare Machine
Saint Petersburg, FL

The Radley Haunted House is a new way of turning horror into a completely immersive environment. A new Haunt deticated to bringing you professional production quality experiences.

This haunted attraction is a must see, has been compared to Halloween Horror Nights quality. This is a short, but completely immersive experience that is sure to terrify you. Probably not appropriate for children under the age of 8. This is a very dark space with slight changes of elevation in the dark. Please be careful not to damage our sets or hurt our actors. Property owners and adjoining property owners are and will not be liable for any damage to your belongings, liable for any accident that may occur or liable for any lost articles.



The 13th Gate
Baton Rouge

The 13th Gate is a haunted attraction that is known for its extreme ultra-realism and is one of the most detailed haunted houses in existence. The artists behind the massive dark attraction are experts at blurring the lines between horror and reality, and guests frequently wonder between screams whether what they are experiencing is real or not. The Attraction’s level of detail, set design, and effects combined with their impressive actors and incredible makeup effects can only be compared to a Hollywood movie. The attraction features a real snake-infested Louisiana Swamp, nightly voodoo shows, claustrophobic cellars, hidden subterranean passages and even a prehistoric ice cave all seamlessly woven together and nothing short of masterful. The haunted house is constantly changing and growing from year to year so guests never know what to expect around the next terrifying corner.

From crawling though a crematory oven and an old hearse to being lost in dark underground tunnels or even finding yourself standing on a rickety bridge overlooking hundreds of live snakes, this 40,000 square foot haunted house is definitely not recommended for the faint of heart (nor is it recommended for anyone who is pregnant, has a pre-existing heart condition, is very young, or has a weak bladder)!




p.s. Hey. ** David Ehrenstein, I, of course, agree with you entirely about Sarraute! Everyone, Mr. E’s FaBlog adds a thing to the hot-button ‘Ellen Degeneres likes George Bush’ blowback here. ** KK, Hi, man. ‘Tropismes’ is very great, a key book, I think. I did a post dedicated to it. I remember that Kathryn Harrison book. It was kind of a big, semi-scandalous deal at the time, as I remember. It’s good? I was always suspicious of it, I guess because when the mainstream lit world declares something scandalous, it so rarely is, to me I mean. But I’ll have a look. Prejudices are bad. Congrats on your car’s health. The new Miike sounds tasty. My next film biggie is a big, multi-media ‘all day’ event here with/around Godard’s ‘Image Book’ tomorrow. Good to see ya. ** Sypha, It’s a goodie. Thank you for posting your cake on FB. I adored it and wished my stomach had been its grave. Wow, you think you can remember every film you’ve ever seen? That’s some memory. I don’t think I could begin to do that unless someone wanted to name every single movie that came out since I was sentient while I said yes or no. Have fun with that. It does sound fun. ** Steve Erickson, Rammstein have their fair share of train spotters or dissecting beloveds for sure. I had a guest-hosted post about Damon Packard a very, very long time ago. So long ago that it would be  hopelessly out of date. Hm, I’ll see what’s online and try to do a new one. Good idea, thanks. I haven’t seen any of his films in ages. ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi, B. I know ‘The Designated Victim’, but I think I’ve only seen clips. I’ll hunt it. If Pierre’s in it, I’m there, simple as pie. ** Keatzert, Bonjour, mec. I don’t get the feet thing. I mean I get it, I just don’t get feet being lordly re: the libido. But, boy, is feet a big thing amongst the slave set these days. I have to weed through hundreds of them when I’m making those posts. Weed through because I have yet to find a feet slave who has anything interesting whatsoever to say about it. Right, losmovies.com, right, I did forget. Thank you! I just … bookmarked it forever. Germany = opulence … I’ll have to think about that. ‘Low Tide’? Hm, okay, I’ll check into it. That dream of yours was … opulent? Like Germany? No, no, not opulent … what’s the word … damn … I can’t remember, so I’ll just have to go boring and say ‘interesting’? Are The Dead Milkmen still working their moment on the concert circuit, I wonder? Find ghosts. Tell them hi for me. ** Right. Today I present the broader picture version of my yearly ‘haunted house speculative best of’ post for those of you scattered across the big USA or, if elsewhere, those of you who have experienced the enlightenment of embracing haunted house attractions as an art form worthy of contextualisation with sculpture, painting, installation, photo, video, and all the other already vaunted physical forms in which creativity manifests. Enjoy the hell out of today, literally, please. See you tomorrow.

Spotlight on … Nathalie Sarraute The Planetarium (1959)


‘Nathalie Sarraute is associated with the nouveau roman scene, but she was inspired by Proust and Virginia Woolf. That is obvious in her book The Planetarium, which was published in 1959. Stylistically, the novel builds on a form of stream-of-consciousness. The story – what little there is of it! – is told from the point of view of the characters of the book. But, really, this is not a narrative. If I were asked to sum up the story, I’d say it’s about leather chairs, English club style. Door handles. A crammed apartment. That’s about it.

‘On a more philosophical level, the novel explores a world of resentment. A young, procrastinating academic, and his quite anonymous wife, are offered ugly furniture by their in-laws. They live in a crammed apartment. Their eccentric aunt, who cares for nothing other than fancy furniture, offers them an apartment swop, but she regrets it instantaneously, to the bewilderment of all others, to whom she appears as a crazy hag.

‘The characters in Sarraute’s novel hate each other dearly. They wallow in resentment and self-loathing. Their world is a world of small injustices, wrongdoing and pay-back. Malice. The real tense in the story is due to the different perspectives, clashing against each other. Sarraute’s novel analyzes the way self-understanding & the way we understand others are connected, intertwined. But there’s not much understanding here, even though there is a lot of psychological scrutinizing, mapping. The characters understanding of each others are connected with their attitudes; spite, impatience. Everything they say & think express a very intentional, but not very conscious, attempt at miscrediting everyone else. In a quite dostoyevskian way, Sarraute brings out why the characters live in a twiilght of consciousness & blindness. She describes a form of consciousness that comes to nothing, because it is expressive of the desire to destroy and to hide. One verb sums it all up: to beguile. Social calculation that never really works the way it is intended to – because it can’t (a brilliant point in itself, I’d say).

‘These characters live in a mix of self-abasement and self-aggrandizing. They are the twin of Dostoyevsky’s underground man. When trying to express the wrongs that have been done to them, they compare themselves to Caesar – that’s their manner of talking. There are hints of self-understanding, but as soon as something like the voice of conscience worms into their blabbering reality, they take care to belittle it. The little there is of clarity, is brushed aside – in the name of “God, I’m a nasty person” and “well, I’m not that bad, after all, am I?” I’m sure you recognize this pattern from Notes from the underground.

‘Sarraute’s story (or anti-story) is set against the backdrop of the “decency”, the preoccupations, of bourgeoise life. Of what I’ve said so far, it might not have appeared as if she’s interested in social critique – but in my opinion, she is. To make a name for oneself, to succeed, to fit in. The ever recurring easy chairs bring to mind a leisurly life, but for Alain & his ilks, life cannot be too leisurly (that would signify decadence). Alain himself is constantly blamed for being an effeminate good-for-nothing, too attached to nice things (too like his aunt Berthe). Alain is a worrying reminder in the heads of others. Alain’s sleazy leather chairs constitute a reminder of himself, the way he understand himself, the way others impose their pictures of him on him. It is, thus, no coincidence that the leather chairs form the centre of the book. They stand for something that the characters are, but that they, at the same time, want to turn away from. The chairs are eponymous of the embarrassment, the shame felt by the characters in relation to themselves & others.

‘One of the interesting things about the book, and I understand it as no mere stylistic tool, is that it is not always clear whose perspective is presented. In this way, the reader is invited to reflect on the world of the different characters – how similar the characters are, because they share everything: envy, disgust, grudge. Is this yet another book, elevating alienation to the status of “authentic being”? Nope. The characters of the book are depicted as closed systems, planets, who have no real contact with each other besides that of envying & holding a grudge against everyone they know (and everyone they don’t know, too). All confrontations end with anti-climax, a form of spiritual suffocation. These people treat each other as means-to-an-end -Sarraute brings out the absurdity in this, and this she does better than anyone. Sarraute is no Sartre, no Camus, even though her book shares with them some main themes.

‘In one especially devastating scene, Alain, the failed academic, receives some visitors in his crammed apartment. His artsy-fartsy “friends” pay him a visit with the sole intention of humiliating him, of relishing his crazed demeanour. Alain is embarrassed. He doesn’t know what to do with himself. He is ashamed of his furniture. His friends ridicule his attempts at respectability.

“Good evening…delighted…Good evening…Why, not at all, come in…No, you’re not disturbing me…Certainly not, what an idea, you know quite well that I’m very glad…” His smile is edgy, constrained, he feels this, his voice is badly pitched… He offers them seats, clumsily displaces an easy chair, he all but knocks over a small center table which, calmly, skillfully, they catch just in time, set straight again, all his gestures are jerky, awkward, his eyes must have a feverish light in them…

‘But what kind of petty novel is it that revolves around furniture? Well, Sarraute’s style is more stringent, more systematic than most of the things I’ve read in my life. The broken, dissociated sentences mould the precise, yet somehow streaming, language. I don’t mean that she strangles the life of her characters (or, well – a little…) – their lifelessness is part of the perspective she conjures up. Resentment: dying, while struggling to keep up the appearence of projects, initiatives, activity. She writes about the way self-deception can be seen as a kind of death (hello, Mr. Kierkegaard). In this respect, she is not cynical at all, even though her novel is no-nonsense darkness.’ — M. Lindman



Nathalie Sarraute @ Wikipedia
Nathalie Sarraute by Hannah Arendt
Nathalie Sarraute @ Jewish Women’s Archive
Lessons with Nathalie Sarraute
Nathalie Sarraute and the Feminist Reader: Identities in Process
Conversations avec Nathalie Sarraute
Obituary Nathalie Sarraute
Nathalie Sarraute, The Art of Fiction No. 115
Audio: Nathalie Sarraute (1/4) Fragments de vie
L’objet lumineux dans l’œuvre de Nathalie Sarraute
Le bout de la langue: A propos de Nathalie Sarraute
Nathalie Sarraute @ goodreads
Buy ‘The Planetarium’



Radioscopie : Nathalie Sarraute (1989)

Nathalie Sarraute – Entretien Agora



from Itineraries of a Hummingbird


In your books you have a very fine ear, for the interior voices as well as for the development of the text. Another domain of listening, of course, is music. Do you listen much to music?

I like music a lot, almost too much. Sometimes so much even that it gives me a sort of feeling of anguish. But I haven’t listened a lot, partly because of that. It’s quite curious, the effect it has on me. And precisely in the works I prefer, it’s a sort of anguish that I never have from painting, which always gives me a feeling of eternity, security, peace. Of immobility. I love painting a great deal. Music at times reaches something that is almost superhuman, divine. One listens to Mozart and says, It’s not possible that a human being did that.

Were you ever tempted to write another sort of literature, such as the fantastic?

Not at all. Because each instant of the real world is so fantastic in itself, with all that’s happening inside it, that it’s all I want.

At the time of your first book, Tropisms, what was your rapport with the literary world?

I didn’t know anyone, not a single writer. I didn’t meet Sartre until the war. After the Liberation, he wrote the preface for my first novel, Portrait of a Man Unknown (1947).

How did you arrive at the form of those first short texts?

The first one came out just as it is in the book. I felt it like that. Some of the others I worked on a lot.

And why did you choose the name Tropisms?

It was a term that was in the air, it came from the sciences, from biology, botany. I thought it fit the interior movement that I wanted to show. So when I had to come up with a title in order to show it to publishers, I took that.

How did you know what they were at the time, these tropisms? How did you know when you’d found one?

I didn’t always know, I might discover it in the writing. I didn’t try to define them, they just came out like that.

The tropisms often seem to work through a poetic sensibility.

I’ve always thought that there is no border, no separation, between poetry and prose. Michaux, is he prose or poetry? Or Francis Ponge? It’s written in prose, and yet it’s poetry, because it’s the sensation that is carried across by way of the language.

With the tropisms, did you feel that it was fiction? Did you wonder what to call it?

I didn’t ask myself such questions, really. I knew it seemed impossible to me to write in the traditional forms. They seemed to have no access to what we experienced. If we enclosed that in characters, personalities, a plot, we were overlooking everything that our senses were perceiving, which is what interested me. One had to take hold of the instant, by enlarging it, developing it. That’s what I tried to do in Tropisms.

Did you sense at the time that was the direction your work would go?

I felt that a path was opening before me, and which excited me. As if I’d found my own terrain, upon which I could move forward, where no one had gone prior to me. Where I was in charge.

Were you already wondering how to use that in other contexts such as a novel?

Not at all. I thought only of writing short texts like that. I couldn’t imagine it possible to write a long novel. And after, it was so difficult finding these texts, each time it was like starting a new book all over again, that I told myself perhaps it would be interesting to take two semblances of characters who were entirely commonplace as in Balzac, a miser and his daughter, and to show all these tropisms that develop inside of them. That’s how I wrote Portrait of a Man Unknown.

In effect, one could say that all or most tropisms we might find in people could also be found in a single person.

Absolutely. I’m convinced that everyone has it all in himself, at that level. On the exterior level of action, I don’t for a minute think that Hitler is like Joan of Arc. But I think that at that deep level of tropisms, Hitler or Stalin must have experienced the same tropisms as anyone else.

The tropisms would seem to enter the domain of the social sciences as well.

Yes. I’ve become more accessible, besides. It used to be entirely closed to people. For a long time people didn’t get inside there, they couldn’t manage to really penetrate these books.

Why do you think that is?

Because it’s difficult. Because I plunge in directly, without giving any reference points. One doesn’t know where one is, nor who is who. I speak right away of the essential things, and that’s very difficult. In addition, people have the habit of looking for the framework of the traditional novel—characters, plots—and they don’t find any, they’re lost.

That brings up the question of how to read these books. You do without plot, for example.

There is a plot, if you like, but it’s not the usual plot. It is the plot made up of these movements between human beings. If one takes an interest in what I do, one follows a sort of movement of dramatic actions which takes place at the level of the tropisms and of the dialogue. It’s a different dramatic action than that of the traditional novel.

You’ve said that you prefer a relatively continuous reading of your books. But all reading is a somewhat fragmentary experience. With a traditional novel, when one picks it up again to continue reading, there are the characters and the plot to situate oneself, where one left off. In your books, do you see other ways of keeping track of where one was?

I don’t know. I don’t know how one reads it. I can’t put myself in the reader’s place, to know what he’s looking for, what he sees. I have no idea. I never think of him when I’m writing. Otherwise, I’d be writing things that suit him and please him. And for years he didn’t like it, he wasn’t interested.

Even after several books you weren’t discouraged?

No, not at all. I was always supported, all the same, from the start. With Portrait of a Man Unknown, I was supported by Sartre. At the time, Sartre was the only person who was doing something about literature, he had a review. My husband as well was tremendously supportive, from the very start. He was a marvelous reader for me, he always encouraged me a great deal. That was a lot. It suffices to have one reader, who realizes what you want to do. So, it was a great solitude, if you like, but deep down inside it wasn’t solitude. Sartre was impassioned by Portrait of a Man Unknown. So, that was very encouraging. Then when Martereau (1953) was done, Marcel Arland was very excited and had it published with Gallimard. He was editing the Nouvelle Revue Française at the time. I always had a few enthusiastic readers. When Tropisms came out, I received an enthusiastic letter from Max Jacob, who at the time was very admired as a poet. I can’t say it was a total solitude.

Did Sartre or others try to claim you as an existentialist?

No, not at all. He had published the beginning of Portrait of a Man Unknown in his review, Les Temps Modernes, and then he wrote the preface because he wanted to. And he told me, “Above all, they shouldn’t think it’s a novel that was influenced by existentialism.” Which couldn’t be the case, because Tropisms came out almost the same time as Nausea.

It was rather another existentialism.

He was entirely conscious of that. And very honestly he said, “It is existence itself.”

Would it be possible to use the tropisms in a more traditional novel?

I don’t see how. What interest would there be? Because in a more traditional novel, one shows characters, with personality traits, while the tropisms are entirely minute things that take place in a few instants inside of anybody at all. What could that bring to the description of a character? On the contrary.

As if at the moment of the tropisms, the character vanishes.

He disintegrates, before the extraordinary complexity of the tropisms inside of him.

Which is what happens in Martereau.

Martereau disintegrates. And in Portrait of a Man Unknown, the old man, the father, becomes so complex that the one who’s looking to see inside of him abandons his quest, and at that moment we end up with a character out of the traditional novel, who ruins everything. In Martereau, it’s the character out of the traditional novel who disintegrates at the end.

Yet in The Planetarium (1959), it seems that more than ever you’re using traditional characters.

On purpose. Since they are semblances, it’s called The Planetarium, and is made up of false stars, in imitation of the real sky. We are always for each other a star, like those we see in a planetarium, diminished, reduced. So, they see each other as characters, but behind these characters that they see, that they name, there is the whole infinite world of the tropisms, which I tried to show in there.

Considering the interior nature of your writing, has it sometimes been difficult to remain at such depths?

No, what is difficult is being on the surface. One gets bored there. There are a lot of great and admirable models who block your way. And once I rise to the surface, to do something on the surface, it’s easy, but it’s very tedious and disappointing.

In Portrait of a Man Unknown the specialist consulted by the narrator tells him: “Beware of this taste for introversion, for daydreaming in the void, which is nothing but an escape before the effort.”

Yes, because he feels that he is marginal, he feels that he’s not normal. It’s entirely ironic. He goes to see a psychiatrist who tries to put him on the right path. In my books there are always these normal people who don’t understand these tropisms, who don’t feel them.

With Portrait of a Man Unknown, had you decided to avoid using characters?

No, on the contrary, I wanted to take semblances of characters, types, the miser for example, like Père Grandet, and then to try to see what really happens in him, which is of an enormous complexity. It is so complex that the character who is searching him out abandons the search, he can’t go on anymore. And at that moment the character from the traditional novel is introduced, who has a name, a profession, who marries the daughter, etcetera. We fall back into the traditional novel and dialogue.

While you were writing this book, did you know how it was going to end?

No, I found the ending when I got to the end. Usually, it develops like that, like an organism that develops. Often I don’t see the ending at all, it comes out of the book on its own.

You’ve said that with the novels you wrote the first draft directly from beginning to end.

At first. I always have to make a beginning that’s entirely finished, the first few pages must be fixed in place. Like a spring-board, that I take off from, I don’t rework it any further. I work on it a lot, and then it’s finished. But after that, I wrote from one end to the other. I used to work like that, not now. I wrote from one end to the other, in a form that was sometimes a bit rough, I found the general movements, and then I rewrote the whole thing. For a while now, though, I’m afraid of waiting two or three years like that before starting over. So, I write gradually, I finish each passage as I go along. I changed my system about six years ago, since The Use of Speech and Childhood.

In Martereau the narrator speaks of the importance of words, of what they hide. For Martereau, who is rather a traditional novelistic character, words are “hard and solid objects, of a single flow.” One would say that in your books you feel a certain seduction of words.

Yes, it’s words that interest me. Inevitably. It’s the very substance of my work. As a painter is interested in color and form.



Nathalie Sarraute The Planetarium
Dalkey Archive Press

‘The many narratives of The Planetarium, told from various points of view, revolve around a seemingly simple conceit: a young man has his heart and ambition set on his aunt’s large apartment. But, as in Sarraute’s other books, this plot forms only the surface of what is really happening. Instead, Sarraute focuses on the emotional lives and internal thoughts of her characters in a way that goes beyond what Virginia Woolf did years before.

‘The spite the young man feels toward his mother-in-law for offering him and his wife cheap chairs for their apartment; the terror inspired during a confrontation between the same young man and his aunt; and the need for approval he feels when he’s around his Gertrude Stein-like literary icon are some of the many internal conflicts that move the narrative forward through the minds of the conflicted and clashing characters.

‘Always deeply engaging, The Planetarium uses a simple plot to reveal the disparity between the way we see ourselves and the way others see us.’ — DAP






p.s. Hey. ** Keatbeat, Hey, bud! 19: very interesting pick. Still no ‘3 from Hell’ for me. Gotta be a way. Missed ‘Midsummer’ so far. The French love Rammstein. Like inordinately. They’re like the sledgehammer Beatles here. Oh, Halloween stores. I can’t wait. I’m a cheap Halloween date. I have to wait a bit. But I can’t, but I will. Careful with those benzos then, man. ‘Careful with that axe, Eugene’. Like that. Happy continuing Halloween encroachment. ** Misanthrope, Yay, crowd pleasers. And quite a crowd, I may say. Sounds like fun to me: what you’re having. Aces. Say hi to everybody who’s anybody I know. Oh, Sailor Stephens, cool. I haven’t met Sailor Stephens yet, I don’t think, unless my low percentage of coffee is speaking ill to me. That’s tonight, right? Aka ‘Crowd’. Have a blast. Look for Sylvain (‘Guillaume’) and Katia (‘Roman’s Sister’). You can’t miss them. ** Sypha, Hi. Glad your tastebuds got activated. The shark one is almost surprisingly pleasurable. No pix of the Stay-Puft Ghostbusters cake? Glad to hear you’re getting your short stories mss. out there. All the luck there its with that hunt, man, obvs. On that front, we’re twinsies. ** David Ehrenstein, That’s a pretty sounding tune you linked to right there. Everyone, David E’s notorious FaBlog has taken on one of the world’s most odious politicians if not even living beings under the seductive title ‘What’s in Your Pouch, Mate?’ if you’re curious. ** Bill, Yeah, the snake one is particularly seductively reasoned out and realised, I think too. I … can only assume or possibly would even bet that the maggots are marzipan. As opposed to marshmallow, or, err, maggot. ** _Black_Acrylic, One dismembered goose head cake coming conceptually right up. Watch your imaginary doorstep. Celebratory noises on finishing the funding app. And on your happy event relocating. And all of that. Everything ‘Call’ is coming up roses. ** Okay. I’m spotlighting a great novel by the great Nathalie Sarraute today as you already know if you are reading this. Recommended? Yes, very. See you tomorrow.

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