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The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Little House on the Bowery (2003 – 2011), a checklist

Imprint Editor-in-Chief: Dennis Cooper
Publisher: Akashic Books
Covers designer: Joel Westendorf

 

Introducing ‘Little House On The Bowery’
by Dennis Cooper

When I first began to read and write fiction, contemporary literature seemed a venue of originality, boldness, and adventure. It was the late ’60s, a very different time in culture and publishing. One could walk into any suburban chain bookstore and find hordes of novels and short story collections offering the prospect of entertainment, emotional and/or intellectual enlightenment, and an anarchic literary spirit. Prominent publishers like New Directions and Grove Press were reliable sources of fresh and fascinating fiction. I knew I could buy any book from these presses and have at the very least an unusual and very engrossing reading experience. In those days, the feeling that innovation and personal vision were the goals of contemporary literature was a pervasive one, and this impression shaped the expectations of my generation of writers and book lovers.

It’s no news that things have changed drastically since that time. Major presses have become extremely timid when it comes to taking chances on writers whose work doesn’t fit within their predetermined marketing strategies. What was once known optimistically as “avant-garde fiction” has been marginalized into the more demeaning category of “experimental fiction,” and a gulf has grown between “commercial fiction” and fiction with challenges to the reader, which is now deemed a chancy investment. There are small publishing houses that champion difficult work, and large houses that occasionally release books with unusual content and style so long as their form and structure pose no real threat to the predilections of conventional book buyers. But the general literary climate in the United States today is not a friendly one to readers and writers who seek in fiction an experience of a unique and startling nature. It’s no surprise that young adventurers have all but abandoned literature in favor of more accessible and apparently vital art forms like movies and popular music.

Because my own novels are both radical and somewhat prominent, I’m often given work by young writers who see my achievement as a sign that their unusual, autonomous fiction could be published and respected, and might find some kind of audience. Once in a while, these writers are truly extraordinary, and I do my best to encourage their efforts and help them succeed. What they don’t realize is that my work is something of an anomaly in mainstream publishing, and that the opportunities for writers like myself come only very occasionally. After years of trying to use my limited powers to help these writers into print with rare success, I decided to initiate a line of books to showcase the best of these authors. Thanks to the generosity and enthusiasm of Akashic Books, readers will now have every opportunity to discover some of these amazing new talents.

LITTLE HOUSE ON THE BOWERY will be a line of fiction books in the tradition of the young New Directions and Grove Press. Its concentration will be on younger North American writers who believe that fiction can be as entertaining, challenging, revelatory, and, in a word, important as any other medium. I hope Little House on the Bowery will be a reliable source for readers who want literature to be an adventure on the levels of content and style. I also want it to be an oasis for people who have come to see contemporary literature as a spotty, conservative medium. I want to create a forum for a wide variety of younger writers whose tremendous gifts and personal vision warrant a broad readership, and whose work holds the possibility of impacting the future of American fiction. I believe these authors are important new voices whose novels and story collections offer what should be the prerequisite of literature: a meaningful, pleasurable, and very impressive surprise. Beginning in the spring of 2003, Little House on the Bowery will begin publishing two titles per year. I hope that critics and readers will give these books careful attention. As their editor, I promise in turn to select works with enough wisdom and daring to deserve the attention and support. — 2003

 

The Books

Travis Jeppesen Victims (2003)

“This book marks the debut of an author who will surely become a major voice in alternative literary fiction . . . rich, lyrical language reminiscent of a modern-day Faulkner informed by the postmodern narrative strategies of Dennis Cooper.” — Library Journal (starred review)

Victims is a novel about the final days of a religious cult called The Overcomers. Like the infamous Heaven’s Gate cult, whose mass suicide gained world media attention in the 1990s, they are a small group of lost souls guided by the teachings of a charismatic leader, Martin Jones. The Overcomers go about their lives preparing for the cosmic event that will signal the end of their time on earth. Their struggles to reconcile their faith in Jones’s teachings with the emotional ups and downs of their relationships, jobs, and interactions with the natural world form the subject of this exquisitely written and highly original novel.

Based on extensive research into the rhetoric of religious cults, Victims is a novel of ideas in the tradition of modernist works like Magic Mountain and The Plague. Author Travis Jeppesen uses an episodic narrative, an elegantly direct style, and a quirky, sympathetic group of characters to ponder a question raised by Jones’s teachings: If friendship and love are just systems to instill comfort in our lives, are all human interactions acts of manipulation?

Victims is set in a rural America of the imagination informed by classic American values—and cleansed of the mundane distractions that characterize American culture. Travis Jeppesen has written a novel with a philosophical bravura rarely seen in the work of contemporary American writers.

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Excerpt
Interview

 

Benjamin Weissman Headless (2004)

“Brilliant. Wildly inventive, profane, and hilarious. Benjamin Weissman is a master stylist who in story after story keeps scoring effortlessly. Beneath the deadpan absurdity these virtuoso comic monologues describe—with more intense accuracy than just about anyone else around—what it means to be male.” — Bret Easton Ellis

The author of the acclaimed transgressive cult classic Dear Dead Person returns with this long awaited second collection of brilliantly written, outrageously imaginative and comedic short stories. Benjamin Weissman is one of the true originals in contemporary American fiction. In Headless, he turns his daredevil wit and fearless storytelling gifts on subjects ranging from Hitler’s secret life as a skier to the philosophical musings of identical twin porn stars to the travails of the world’s most sitcom-defying family. Weissman’s dysfunctional, hilarious, and strangely moving tales of life in contemporary America are a real and unique treasure.

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Excerpt
Interview

 

Derek McCormack Grab Bag (2004)

“Grab Bag culls the best of the perverse and innocent world of Derek McCormack. The mystery of objects, the lyricism of neglected lives, the menace and nostalgia of the past—these are all ingredients in this weird and beautiful parallel universe.” — Edmund White

“Boy, can Dennis Cooper find ’em! Grab Bag will grab you, all right; plain, simple, and hard.” — John Waters

Grab Bag is comprised of two interrelated novels, Dark Rides and Wish Book, from one of Canada’s most important young writers. Both books are set in the same small rural city, in different eras (1950s, 1930s), each characterized by McCormack’s spare and elliptical prose.

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Excerpt
Interview

 

Martha Kinney The Fall of Heartless Horse (2004)

“Tumultuous and beautiful, an emotional inquiry into writing and the nature of illusion, so highly pleasurable, a surprise and triumph for the American novel.” — Claude Simon

“I love this book. How Martha Kinney created this utterly unique and powerful piece of writing—a family saga about sex, love, money, power, and inheritance (among other themes) that blends the best agendas of prose and poetry in its operatic narrative arc, beautifully fuses the diction of historical epic and postmodern friskiness, and is bursting with drama, satire, comedy, absurdity, wit, intrigue, and intense emotion—is beyond me. As a grateful and admiring reader I can only thank her for this work and eagerly await more.” — Amy Gerstler

The Fall of Heartless Horse is a postmodern multigenerational family drama that is dark, hilarious, moving, and wildly original. By turns lyric, comic, and tragic, it deals with greed, inheritance, heroism, capitalism, sex, and the intertwining of public and private histories. Kinney has brought to life an amazing cast of characters with a “novella in verse” combining elements from ancient Scottish sagas, songs, legal documents, new age literature, and interviews. This startling, inventive debut, which draws on traditions of both poetry and prose, has been compared with the works of Lewis Carroll and Anne Carson, and evokes qualities of opera, epic, and melodrama as well. A soaring energetic, one-of-a-kind text, The Fall of Heartless Horse explodes different forms, gutting and reanimating them. Here is a deeply affecting tale of ruthlessness, loss, rivalry, and the difficulty of finding one’s place in the world.

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Excerpt

 

Richard Hell Godlike (2005)

“Vile, scabrous, unforgivable, and deserving of the widest possible audience.” — William Gibson

“From the beginning, Richard Hell has burned with the same blue flame of misfit insight and desperate beauty.” — Jerry Stahl

Godlike, Hell’s second novel, is a stunning achievement, and quite likely his most important work in any medium to date. Combining the grit, wit, and invention of Go Now with the charged lyricism and emotional implosiveness of his groundbreaking music, Godlike is brilliant in form as well as dazzling in its heartwrenching tale of one whose values in life are the values of poetry. Set largely in the early ’70s, but structured as a middle-aged poet’s 1997 notebooks and drafts for a memoir-novel, the book recounts the story of a young man’s affair with a remarkable teenage poet. Godlike is a novel of compelling originality and transcendent beauty.

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Excerpt

 

Trinie Dalton Wide Eyed (2005)

“These charming stories vibrate with innocence and awe. Trinie Dalton is an effortless purveyor of wonder, strangeness, and love. She is a writer of high spirits and unguarded vision, and this debut collection is an absolute pleasure to read.” — Ben Marcus

In Trinie Dalton’s tweaked vision of reality, psychic communications between herself and Mick Jagger, The Flaming Lips, Marc Bolan, Lou Reed, and Pavement are daily occurrences. Animals also populate this book: beavers, hamsters, salamanders, black widows, owls, llamas, bats, and many more are characters who befriend the narrator. This collection of stories is told by a woman compelled to divulge her secrets, fantasies, and obsessions with native Californian animals, glam rock icons, and horror movies, among other things. With a setting rooted in urban Los Angeles but colored by mythic tales of beauty borrowed from medieval times, Shakespeare, and Grimm’s fairy tales, Wide Eyed makes the difficulties of surviving in a contemporary American city more palatable by showing the reader that magic and escape is always possible.
Stories include “Hummingbird Moonshine,” in which the narrator’s frustrated hunt for authentic religion in botanicas and science books culminates in a spiritual connection made with a hummingbird. In “Oceanic,” she resolves to marry a manatee after a drunken pre-party for her best friend’s wedding. In “Tiles,” four vignettes about bloody accidents in tiled bathrooms intermingle with scenes from Dalton’s favorite scary movies.

Featuring oddball prose in the traditions of Dalton’s literary heroes—Denton Welch, Robert Walser, and Jane Bowles—these stories have a dreamy, imaginative quality that reveal a peculiar state of mental ecstasy. To be inside the mind of Trinie Dalton is to be escorted into bliss.

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Excerpt

 

James Greer Artificial Light (2006)

Artificial Light skates on the purity of confession. It’s a brutal reveal; an Abyss Narrative with hooks. Read it in a rush of abomination and rise above, rise above.” — Stephen Malkmus

In 1994, a young woman named Fiat Lux donates twenty-one notebooks full of her writings to a university library and then disappears. It’s only later that her close relationship with a well known rock musician who had recently committed suicide is discovered, and the notebook’s contents become the subject of growing fascination, conjecture, and gossip. Intending to satisfy the public’s insatiable curiosity about the rock star and throw light on the author’s rumored involvement in his now infamous death, and, more importantly, hoping to make a case for her remarkable writings as a work of literature, the university’s press has decided to publish her notebooks in a single volume under the title she had given them, Artificial Light.

Set in the mythological land of Dayton, Ohio, Artificial Light is part historical novel, part science fiction, part sociological study, part murder mystery. Stunningly written in prose that is poetic, gripping, and highly adventurous, Artificial Light may be the first American novel to successfully treat the alternative rock scene of the 1990s as a subject for serious literature. James Greer has written a novel at once completely original in its form, composition, and outlook and yet as classically pleasurable and informative as any work of contemporary fiction in memory.

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Excerpt

 

Userlands: New Fiction from the Blogging Underground (2007)

Editor: Dennis Cooper
Contributors: Mark Doten * Garrison Taylor * Zac German * Bett Williams * Joshua Dalton * Jeff Jackson * Marc Andreottola * Nick Hudson * Sean Pajot * Angela Tavares * Jose Alvarado Lopez * David Estornell * Mike Kitchell * Nick Cacioppo * James Champagne * Mark Gluth * Eddie Beverage * M.A.D. * Jack Dickson * Joseph Marcure * Cody Carvel * Melissa Musser * Callum James * Charles Quiroz * Josh Feola * Robert Siek * Steven T. Hanley * Chris von Steiner * Jack Shamama * Nicholas Messing * Nicholas Rhoades * T.P. Kendall * Patrick deWitt * Mike Kascel * Justin Taylor * Stanya Kahn * Jago Pallabazzer * Aaron Nielsen * Frankie P. * Will Fabro * Matthew Williams

“In the early ’90s, I edited an anthology called Discontents (Amethyst Press, 1994) that documented the amazing creativity of the young writers and artists involved in the then-exploding queer zine phenomenon. The book, now considered a classic, is currently being taught in numerous universities and features a number of new writers who have since gone on to be well-known and important figures: David Sedaris, Dale Peck, Dorothy Allison, Scott Heim, Eileen Myles, and others. With the advent of the Internet, the energy and talent that produced the zine movement gradually moved online, and that same vitality now fuels the similarly grassroots—if higher-tech—phenomenon of blogging, with individual blogs forming the early-21st-century equivalent of the zine. The blog has provided a new kind of forum for new writers to disseminate their work and form mutually interested and supportive communities outside the major publishing industry, whose conservatism and biases toward university-trained fiction writers is well-known.

“This anthology intends to bring to light some of the new fiction writers who are using the Internet’s labyrinthine array of blogs and personal web pages to expose, test, and develop their work. The contributors range in age from sixteen to early forties. They are gay, straight, and in some cases still searching for their identities. They live in North America’s cities and small towns as well as in countries as physically far afield as Norway, Italy, Spain, Denmark, France, and the UK. Their fiction ranges in character from adventurous literary works to pieces that are astonishingly emotional, sexual, and/or personally revealing. What unifies them is their extraordinary talent, their daring and highly individualistic approaches to composing fiction, and the breathtaking freshness, charge, and skill of their prose. Somewhere in this anthology’s collection of mostly unknown, exciting voices are the next important writers of English language fiction.” — Dennis Cooper

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Excerpt

 

Matthew Stokoe High Life (2008)

“Matthew Stokoe’s brutal novel High Life explores the lengths oneman will go to for a shot at stardom, and to say those lengths are extremewould be an understatement. From Raymond Chandler to Nathanael West to JamesEllroy, the “dark underbelly of L.A.”novel has always been an exercise in one-upmanship, to see who can create thestarkest contrast between the surface of Hollywoodglitz and the sheer depravity that lies beneath it. Stokoe’s protagonist isJack, a fully confirmed acolyte of the Hollywood Dream whose holy writ are theprint and video tabloids . . . [T]he novel never strays far from its centralpurpose, to force the reader to consider the price he or she might pay for theultimate prize. As we watch the various threads of Jack’s life come together ina truly devastating series of events that raise the stakes ever higher, thequestion of how much hell any of us would endure for the promise of heaven isas poignant here as it is in anything by Dante.” — PopMatters

Hollywood. The City of Dreams at the end of the nineties. Jack has one ambition – to get famous. He doesn’t care how. He just wants to be like the people he sees in tabloid magazines and on TV: Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp, Tom and Nicole, Arnie, Bruce, Sly…. But the desire for fame has a dark side and he finds himself in a world of drugs and crime, whores, snuff shows, incest, deceit and despair. When his wife is found dead – murdered and disemboweled – and the search for her killer leads him to the femme fatale of all femmes fatales, he sees a chance to make his dreams of money and fame come true. But the City of Dreams can also be the City of Nightmares and it’s going to be a long, dark ride before Jack wakes up.

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Reading Matthew Stokoe’s High Life

 

Derek McCormack The Show That Smells (2009)

“Derek McCormack has written a mini-masterpiece that keeps swelling with invention long after you’ve put it down.” — Guy Maddin

McCormack begins his quirky Tod Browning–inspired tale with a disclaimer: “This book is a work of fiction. It is a parody. It is a phantasmagoria . . . Elsa Schiaparelli was never a vampire. Shocking! by Schiaparelli never contained blood.” The work of Schiaparelli, a 1930s Italian fashion designer, was influenced by Surrealist Salvador Dalí, and the same spirit permeates The Show that Smells, which is set in a maze of mirrors. Schiaparelli dresses introduced playfulness and a sense of “anything goes” to the fashion industry. She branched into perfume and became designer to a number of film stars. In addition to Schiaparelli, this tale is about Jimmie Rodgers, a country music–singer dying of tuberculosis, and his wife, Carrie, who tries to save him by selling her soul to a devil who designs haute couture clothing.

Starring a host of Hollywood’s brightest stars, including Schiaparelli’s real-life rival Coco Chanel, character actor Lon Chaney, Joan Crawford, and the Carter Family (as red state vampire hunters, no less), The Show that Smells is a thrilling tale of hillbillies, high fashion, and horror. An invitation to adults to make-believe, it is sure to please fashion connoisseurs, fans of classic and cult cinema, and freaks everywhere. In McCormack’s world, the power of death can be bottled and sold, and it certainly smells.

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Read about it

 

Mark Gluth The Late Work of Margaret Kroftis (2010)

“In short, impressionistic sentences that soon become hypnotic, Gluth captures [an] atmosphere brilliantly and leaves the reader in awe of his ability. Readers looking for something different will appreciate this work—and, given his writing style, might wish that he also applied his talents to poetry in the future.” — Library Journal

The Late Work of Margaret Kroftis begins during the later days of Margaret Kroftis’s life. She is a writer, living alone. As she experiences a personal tragedy the narrative moves forward in an emotionally coherent manner that exists separately from linear time. Themes of loss and grief cycle and repeat and build upon each other. They affect the text and create a complex structure of crosshatched narratives within narratives. These mirror each other while also telling unique stories of loss that are both separate from Margaret’s as well as deeply intertwined.

This groundbreaking debut demonstrates an affinity with the work of such contemporary European writers as Agota Kristof and Marie Redonnet, while existing in a place and time that is uniquely American. Composed in brief paragraphs and structured as a series of vignettes, pieces of fiction, and autobiography, The Late Work of Margaret Kroftis creates a world in which a woman’s life is refracted through dreamlike logic. Coupled with the spare language in which it is written, this logic distorts and heightens the emotional truths the characters come to terms with, while elevating them beyond the simply literal.

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Excerpt

 

Matthew Stokoe Cows (2011)

“The word is out that Cows is every bit as dark and deranged as Iain Banks’ classic The Wasp Factory. It’s not: it’s even more so. Possibly the most visceral novel ever written.” — Kerrang!​

In a decaying apartment: a mother, a son and a paralysed dog. Monstrously fat and murderously driven, referred to only as The Hagbeast, the mother employs her own unique version of dinnertime cuisine as she attempts to bring about the demise of her only child.​

Steven sickens slowly, holed up in his room, watching perfect lives on TV, dreaming of what it would be like to be safe, to be happy, to be loved…. Dreaming of Brady Bunch perfection. His only companion Dog, the loyal canine his mother crippled with a brick.​

In the apartment upstairs Lucy spends her nights searching for the toxins she knows are collecting inside her body, desperate to rid herself of them. When she enlists Steven’s help to manipulate a piece of invasive medical apparatus, he begins to see that a better life might indeed be possible. Lucy could be his partner, they could make a home together, they could have a baby. They could be just like the folks on TV.​

But that would mean surviving his nightly poisonings. That would mean killing his mother – no mean feat after a lifetime of smack-downs. Fortunately, a new job at the local slaughterhouse introduces him to Cripps, an insane foreman who preaches the gospel of self-empowerment through killing. Steven figures the way ahead is clear, figures it’s goodbye Mommy. But there are cows living under the city, and when they come for Steven, he sets his sights a whole lot higher.​

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Is COWS the Most Disgusting Horror Novel Ever Written?

 

Lonely Christopher The Mechanics of Homosexual Intercourse (2011)

“Praise seems superfluous for a book as accomplished, cohesive, and devastating as Lonely Christopher’s debut collection, so consider these words admiration instead, and admonishment: if you still think fiction counts for anything, then you should buy this book right now.” — Dale Peck

“Lonely Christopher, as his name suggests, knows despair as only a hobo or a clown can. This knowledge animates his fiction and provides each story with a humor that belies the terrible things that happen to his men, women, children, and animals. His formal experimentation will reward readers who have been craving a Huysmans sort of Nick Drake sort of Andy Kaufman killer writer. These readers will, like all good boys and girls, go to bed happy at last.” — Kevin Killian

Two boys lie on a bed, one of them is already dead; they listen to Glenn Gould playing Bach and talk about suicide and love. A lonely narrator mourns the end of a relationship and the disappearance of a mysterious object as a frustrated artist jumps out of a moving car on his birthday and runs for the last streetlamp in the universe. Awkward parents and angsty teens negotiate a dark suburban landscape, searching for something they can’t name, spelling out balletic sentences of failure and shame. Helicopters menace the night sky, a horse is murdered in a kitchen, victims go missing in swamps of ambiguity, and everybody waits for what the construction of a new road into town will bring: the end of the world or something worse.

The Mechanics of Homosexual Intercourse, a radical map of shortcomings in our daily experiences in the form of a debut story collection, presents thematically related windows into serious emotional trouble and monstrous love. Lonely Christopher combines a striking emotional grammar with an unyielding imagination in the lovely-ugly architecture of his stories.

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Excerpt

 

3 books that got away

Lawrence Braithwaite More at 7:30
This really brilliant novel was intended to be the first book in the Little House on the Bowery series. The author Lawrence was a very difficult person both personally and professionally. I knew Lawrence and was used to dealing with that, but his interactions with Johnny Temple, head of LHotB’s publishing home Akashic Books, were so combustible that Johnny made me cancel the book. Several years later, after Lawrence committed suicide, I asked Johnny again if I could publish the book, but his feelings about Lawrence were still so sore that he said no. The novel remains unpublished, and it really needs to be.

 

Michael Gira The Consumer
Johnny Temple and I tried to get the rights to reprint Michael Gira’s (of Swans) terrific book of short fiction, which was (and remains) out of print. I can’t remember whether Michael was uninterested or if the price he asked was too large for my series, but it never happened.

 

Zac German Eat When You Feel Sad
This would have been the final novel in the LHotB series. I really love Eat When You Feel Sad and Zac’s writing in general, and I really wanted to publish it. I lobbied hard, but the powerhouse indie publisher Melville House wanted it too, and they rightfully won out.

 

 

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p.s. Hey. I did a checklist post for my old literary venture Little Caesar Press a while back, and, for whatever reason, I thought I would do the same for my more recent publishing imprint Little House on the Bowery. If it’s of interest and you have any questions or anything, please feel free. Also, novelist and d.l. Jeff Jackson has written a piece for The Poetry Foundation site that’s ostensibly about Diarmuid Hester’s WRONG but is mostly about my poetry, which is pretty rare occurrence these days. It’s very thoughtful and rich, and I’m honored by it. If you’d like to read it, it’s here. ** JM, Hi, J. Yeah, crazy no? I was super thrilled and hopeful, as you can well imagine. It would have been part-animation (the game) and part-live action. It didn’t happen because they never quite figured out how to do that combo satisfactorily. Ever since the disastrous (in my opinion) ‘Frisk’ film back in the early 90s, I’ve been very cautious about selling the film rights to my novels. I’ve only said yes once to a director who wanted to make a film of ‘Closer’ and whose ideas about how to do that interested me, but it never came about. I basically think that my novels are novels, and that they’re about how language and reading work, and they’re aren’t adaptable to a visual presentation. If some interesting director had an exciting idea about how to reinvent a novel in a cinematic space, I would be into considering it. I have let a number of young filmmakers and film students make short films based on my short fiction and poetry. I almost always say yes to that and let them do it carte blanche. I used to have a fantasy that Terrence Malick would adapt ‘My Loose Thread’ because his films were a big influence on that novel. Zac and I would never adapt my novels. The only current ‘filmmaker’ I can think of off the top of my head who I would say yes to in almost any circumstance is Ryan Trecartin, but that’s mostly because it’s such an impossible combination and he would never even think to do it, I think. Thanks for asking and all of that, pal. ** David Ehrenstein, Ha ha. Thank you for your analysis of me. Very interesting. Just so you know, every French person I know here thinks that I personally and my work are extremely American and extremely not French, which they seem to like about me. Anyway, you are very kind, thank you. ** Sypha, ‘Eaux d’Artifice’. Ah, gotcha. About your squeamishness being animal abuse oriented. Very understandable. And the realness of the cat sacrifice in ‘Period’, like almost everything else in ‘Period’, is highly questionable. ** Brendan, Hi, Brendan! Ha ha, so true. Yes, your email is in my box, and I’ve been waiting for a bit of distracting craziness to end so I can open it in the clear, which should be today since it’s Bastille Day and everyone should be all but asleep here. Wow, it will be so nice if baseball restarts. I assume the re-lockdown order yesterday won’t prevent that since it’s outdoors? That sounds heavenly. Anyway, thank you in advance for sending me your new work, and I will write to you very soon. Oh, did you see that I re-upped your old Oxbow post the other week? Love, me. ** _Black_Acrylic, I am in agreement with you there. ** Misanthrope, Oh, yeah, tax time, err … I’ll see if I can not miss yet another year. Between you and me, obvs. Yeek, to work in a situation where Mnuchin is somehow that work’s recipient is trippy and, well, yeek. Yeah, I’ve joined the bean paste cult. Well, chocolate is still doable. And cake too, sure, but not compressed sugar disguised as cake. ** Bill, Thank you. I thought that post might be a palate cleanser of sorts. I think the dancing Cleveland boy won the fountain contest. Yes, I’ve heard from h (now j). Looks like there’s some hope that ugly bullshit might be nipped in the bud. Ah, a suggestion by you that I actually know for once! Yeah, ‘The Northerners’, very charming. Fun director (mostly), that guy. ** Corey Heiferman, Good, gallons was what I was going for. Thanks. I used to have a friend who collected those little plug-in fountains you can buy at nurseries and hippie home furnishing places and such. The walls of his bedroom were filled, practically floor to ceiling, with gurgling, flowing little fountains. It was very impressive. I hope to recreate that in a film sometime when the budget allows for such a thing. That Dizengoff fountain maybe looks better at night? I’ve seen Fountain of Time. Yeah, it’s a cooly. What an odd and deceptively unassuming fountain, that Rome one of your choice. Never done a Bokanowski Day, no. I’ll look into it. Light Cone is great. Its oeuvre and so reasonable prices allow for the existence of a few of the best cinemas in Paris. I was still in LA when the Balls were happening, and I don’t think LA had Balls, or not within my radar. ** h (now j), HI. Well, I’m severely crossing my fingers that all the states and institutions suing the government will stop that destructive, evil, stupid Trump order from ever beginning to begin. It feels hopeful. Very scared by the COVID situation in the US. And feeling lucky beyond belief about the situation here so far. Take very good care. ** Okay. Post introduced. Happy Bastille Day! See you tomorrow.

18 Comments

  1. Hi Dennis, this is always very inspiring. I enjoy these posts a lot.

  2. Amazing list! I’m especially intrigued to read Victims… Sad that The Consumer couldn’t be reprinted; I adore The Egg and Other Stories by Michael Gira. Very interesting point about the publishing industry being more anarchic in the late 60s; yes, it is now depressingly conservative, I wonder why it’s gotten worse though…

  3. Shane Christmass

    July 14, 2020 at 12:23 pm

    Hi Dennis

    Great post. About 5 or 6 years ago I made a point to read everyone of these books. Looking at this checklist I reckon I managed to read 9.

    Was Gira’s book first published by Rollins? I wonder why no one’s snapped it up since? Seems odd.

    I found ‘Artificial Light’ to be a masterpiece actually. Lotsa scenes and images still linger in my head regarding that book. All those candlelit parties in the mansion. Glad I read it, as I remember reading the back of the book and thinking no way am I going to like this grunge novel.

    ‘Headless’ is great as is the Lonely Christopher book.

    Pretty sure WRONG is to be delivered to me tomorrow.

    Just finished that Lydia Lunch book that accompanies the Beth B doco. It’s fine, it is what it is, an oral history. Less interesting as the years rolled on.

    Really enjoyed the Whitehouse post a few weeks back.

    Speak soon. SJX

  4. David Estornell

    July 14, 2020 at 1:22 pm

    ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

  5. I treasure my copy of Lonely Christopher’s book.

    That the French claim to see you as totally American may be a bit of sight-of-hand on their part. Your obvious affinities with Rimbaud, Isidore Ducasse, Gide “The Vatican Cellars” in particular) and in some ways Proust (if Marcel had been a blogger) and of course Bataille make you “Ma Cousin D’Amerique” in a great many ways. But I leave that for some future French Dennis-ista to explicate more fully.

    Saw quite a good documentary “Flannery” about Flannery O’Connor. It’s opening (fitfully of course) this weekend stateside and I’m sure you’ll see it in France in short order. The ever-fetching Brad Gooch is in it needless to say, and it covers a lot of ground about this writer as singular as she is great. She died of Lupus (the same disease that killed my mother) in her 30s’s (my mother passed at a far advanced age) yet she accomplished so much.

  6. As always, I utterly adore your support, passion for the arts, and in particular those of us young-bucks of whom try our hand at some form of artistic expression via the medium of writing.

    (And so far I have Cows/The Show That Smells/GODLIKE and Victims put into my Amazon basket, as those were the one’s luckily enough available, in some capacity.)

    I often wonder, out of all the hundreds of thousands, dare I even state, millions of us indie writers, but most specifically us “alternative” “AVANT-GARDE” /”surrealist”- “experimental” writers, how many of us get an actual career that pays and keeps our necks above water?

    Not that many, and I feel Indie Publication houses, such as Inside The Castle, Dostoevsky Wannabe, 11:11 press, HEXUS PRESS, and I would love to one day think Sweat Drenched Press could be included , are the future for these types of artists. Who do it for the art and to make some lasting imprint legacy wise, with our passions and personal creative objects.

    Though money and success in the monetary quantum realm may be void, in these strands of artistry, when we die, whose to say our stuff will not be picked up- hahaha! I know so many crave this, this validation via book-sales and commission-ary pay, in the Indie scene and in the big wide world publication verse- and it is a craving that needs to be recognized and balanced out and expectations need to be realistic. For many to have works tended to, mastered, encouraged, pushed out into the world with purpose, passion, intent, is something to myself, as a very underground/very unread/unheard of whittler of varying experimental-pieces, an extremely humbling, gracious and reassuring progression and evolution, for our current and perhaps (if we make it that far?) next generation of writers.

    I utterly admire your candidness, and openness, and your humble and gratified manner to which you often reflect unto yourself that, yes your work fits into these zones of expression, and you were perhaps one out of a very small number picked up and given that opportunity by a Publication house, and have had a successful and ever so expansive and intriguing career, and in respect of that, you with all of your capabilities, by name, by association, by friendship, and by your powers to try to do the same for others; to get them recognized.

    For me, whether it succeeds or fails, this speaks volumes about you yourself sir and your dedication to the art of literature and its continuing legacy with a new legion of writers coming out of their basements and hidey-holes to play and to express.

    There are so many fantastic artists and writers, of whom wish to achieve success and with it that financial certainty and verifiable acceptance, that one must of course gain through being commissioned or picked up by a “BIG-BAD-MONEY-DRIVEN” publication house, yet, when it comes to the more “experimental” of us writers-( a title and mantel I utterly adore and wear on my sleeve, and do not feel is demeaning at all but maybe that is because i have warped experimental fiction to such an extent to fit my own biased and ill-defined mental agenda and perspective- i think it is my function as an Autistic individual and artist to be seen as an “experimenter”) a lot of us now, (though I can only talk for myself) are at ease that our works won’t sell in the thousands , that we won’t become household names, but that we are read and in some vague form recognized for our contributions; but for me personally, and I can hopefully state, to be read is ENOUGH…and enough it is, to know that someone, one or ten people have brought your book and read it and either loved it or loathed it or used it as kindling.

    That’s what keeps me going, to think that one day soon I will be read, and my work and others will be encouraged, held, appreciated, studied, by the likes of you, our friends, newcomers, maybe in later years down the line someone of “importance” be it a professor or just a first time reader of whom hasn’t ever experienced the types of writing we love and adore.

    Ah, here I go, hyperbolic spamming your comments section, I must apologise, but it seems your Blog posts and articles get my brain running faster than is quite definable.

    Anyway, again, much love and respect Dennis for all that you do and craft. – Zak

  7. How about writers who are NEW but not necessarily YOUNG? Is there a publishing house for them?

  8. Such a great run of titles. What happened to Martha Kinney?

    Hi, Dennis. Hope all is well. Haven’t commented here in forever, but I still follow and enjoy the posts.

  9. So good. I read almost all of these with the exception of the Stokoe and the James Greer… although i wanted to get them too. My favourites were Mark Gluth’s ‘the late work, the fall of the heartless horse, and Trinie Dalton’s Wide eyed.

    I can’t believe userlands is from so long ago. Feel like i’ve achieved very little since. ugh. I’m just in a mire. It’ll pass

  10. chris dankland

    July 14, 2020 at 8:17 pm

    hi dennis !!

    i own and love several books on this list, and yr post motivates me to check out more of them, especially those stokoe books. u have such great taste, and the books look and sound very cool. that trinie dalton book is so good !! that one made me do flips when i read it.

    something I’ve always sort of wondered about is the state of indie/small press literature over the last 50 years or so. a lot of ppl have been saying that the current time is sort of a small press renaissance, which I don’t doubt since it’s become so easy to start a small press or publish yr own book without a big investment of money, and the internet has allowed so many different kinds of books to find a niche audience.

    when do u think small press books had the most trouble? were there certain decades or years or periods that stick out in yr mind? and what do u think were the main barriers during those times that prevented small press books from existing or thriving?

    geez, I know that’s a big question – I’m sorry, I don’t expect u to give anything more than a casual answer. but I guess if now is maybe a renaissance, then what were the dark ages that preceded it like, in yr view?

    hope ur having a good morning !! sending a ton of 6 feet socially distanced air hugs yr way 🙂

  11. Congrats on editing such a remarkable series of books. The ones that didn’t make it are equally interesting. Are all of the books still in print? And yes, I think your thoughts on film adaption is correct. A novel is a novel, and a film is a film. I think it’s great that you (and Zac) do original material for your film projects.

    The virus is really bad in Los Angeles. Too many knuckleheads not wearing masks or willing to work together for the greater cause. Bowie’s “I’m Afraid of Americans” comes to mind.

  12. Only read a couple of these and particularly love Stokoe’s Cows, but I can see there’s many more still to get. Congratulations on an enduringly great project.

    Happy to say that the thing I wrote for Not Going Back to Normal, the Disabled Artists Manifesto, was accepted and will appear on their website mid August. My Yuck ‘n Yum colleague Alex also has something in there so we’re both very pleased.

  13. Hey Dennis,

    Yes I saw the Oxbow post! I felt waves of nostalgia for days of like, going to concerts. Bastille Day. Viva la France! Everyday is sleepy in LA. A trip to to grocery store is a highlight. Fingers double crossed that baseball will actually happen! Thanks for looking at the photos, and commenting if you have comments. I am always grateful to you for that. I feel good about this stuff. Plus I can make them without leaving the house. Be safe be healthy. Love B.

  14. I set up an interview with the directors of the documentary about Other Music. It’ll take place next Monday, although it won’t be published till about a month afterwards.

    I haven’t heard back from the hospital about the final schedule of my COVID test. They said that it needed to take place within 5 days of the surgery, but I am now hearing that the average time to get results from these tests in New York is 10 days. I plan to call my doctor tomorrow and ask what’s up.

    On a brighter note, I’ll be having lunch with a friend Friday, for the first time since early March! Yay, small pleasures!

    Do you think LHOTB influenced the current small press boom? Have you had any offers to revive the imprint through another company?

  15. Dennis, I have most of these. Can’t explain why I don’t have the ones I don’t. Well, Jeppesen’s makes sense because it was before I knew you (through here and personally; was reading your stuff way before that, of course) and even knew that LHotB existed. Then again, I have most of the pre-me-being-here ones too. All the ones through Greer’s, with the exception of Kinney’s. Hmm. Shit, just realized those are the only two I don’t have. Hmm.

    Yeah, kind of weird to get a Tax Law Specialist on the phone (Skype, actually) going, “DEFCON 5! STM wants it on his desk in an hour!” Hahaha. I mean, regardless of politics, if it were in anyone in that position wanting it right then, it’d be kinda frightening, you know?

    I did work a few years ago on a really important reconfiguration of a form that affects 501(c)(3) nonprofits after the Lois Lerner scandal. That went right up the chain too. That was under the Obama administration. Was just as headache-y. The guy I was working with was in direct communication with the Commissioner, who was, of course, in direct communication with the Treasury Secretary. Ended up being fun…and a stellar product, if I say so myself.

    Man, I slept 8 1/2 straight hours last night without waking up. Or at least don’t remember waking up at all (they say everybody wakes up a little throughout the night but they don’t usually remember it). Felt like a million bucks today.

    Saturday night, I had a chocolate mousse cheesecake that was pretty fucking good. However, I’ve been very strict with my diet since then and am on my way to getting in the shape I want to get in finally. So I’m happy about that. 😀

  16. Ah, USERLANDS, I remember coming across that book one day at a Borders (this was back when they were still in business, obviously) and being very excited to see my name on a book… well, the back cover at least! That was a first for me. I have a few other ones of this list, such as Mark Gluth’s book, the Lonely Christopher one, THE SHOW THAT SMELLS…

    Oddly enough I got that Gira book used on Amazon awhile back (in great condition) for only like $50. I’ve heard it’s much more expensive now.

    ‘Eaux d’Artifice’ is the Anger film I was talking about, yes.

    Yeah, because it’s hard to tell in PERIOD what’s real and what’s not I rationalized it in my head as maybe something that didn’t actually happen, ha ha…

  17. Great to see the impressive back catalog, Dennis. I only have a few of the later books, will check into others soon…

    Hope you had a good Bastille Day. The COVID numbers have been grim in California, maybe a little less grim in SF. A friend just talked me into online chess (I used to play decades ago, but offline of course), so I won’t have to leave the house again, haha.

    Good luck with the medical stuff, Steve!

    Bill

  18. Corey Heiferman

    July 15, 2020 at 7:56 am

    How did you come up with the name Little House on the Bowery? It’s catchy.

    One of the symptoms of the chronic depression that plagued me in the U.S. was only reading dead writers. Here in Israel it’s the exact opposite: I almost exclusively read local writers, and they’re usually around my age.

    Went to a workshop yesterday with a translator. Seven participants sat around splitting hairs over how to translate the opening paragraph of a Robert Coover story into Hebrew. It felt like brainstorming slogans at an ad agency. It’s looking more and more like translating less-known Hebrew writers into English could be a great niche for me.

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