The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Please welcome to the world… Alistair McCartney’s The Disintegrations (University of Wisconsin Press)


“An awe-inspiring tour de force, a circuitous thanatopsis, a maze that constantly reiterates its structure until everything it contains is subsumed within a new ulterior obfuscation. McCartney not only shows us that death is a language unto itself, but also provides us with a dictionary with which to parse it.” —Mark Gluth, author of No Other

“Engrossing and reverent, The Disintegrations strangles death. A philosophy of the concrete and a reckoning of the ethereal, this novel dreams of all that has become lost in a world of remainders. We who remain may not find relief, but it leaves us dazzled and astonished and brutally satisfied with a gratitude for living.” —Lily Hoang, author of A Bestiary

“I know nothing about death, absolutely nothing,” asserts the narrator of this inventive autobiographical novel. Yet he can’t stop thinking about it. Detached from life in Los Angeles and his past in Australia, uncomfortable around other humans, he researches death on the Internet, mulls over distant and intimate stories of suicides, serial killers, and “natural deaths,” and wanders about LA’s Holy Cross Cemetery. He’s looking for answers, all the while formulating his own disquieting philosophies. Within this dizzying investigation into the mystery of death is another mystery: who is the companion igniting these memories? This enigmatic novel blurs the line between fiction and nonfiction, story and eulogy, poetry and obituary. Wry yet somber, astringent yet tender, The Disintegrations confronts the impossibility of understanding death and the timeless longing for immortality.



“A book that takes possession of you right from the opening and will not let you go. Challenging and gripping, a rumination on death and memory that speaks eloquently to our sense of loss, both personal and communal. The writing is exquisite. In the best possible sense, I know this book will haunt me for the longest time.” –Christos Tsiolkas, author of Barracuda

“An uncanny and mesmerizing study of the dread and terror in contemplating death as both remembrance and disappearance, and an intimate reveal of how our fears of erasure are a ghostly double for our awe at being alive.” —Manuel Muñoz, author of What You See in the Dark

“In this long-awaited second novel, a narrator’s fascination with the geography of a nearby cemetery becomes a map of the losses and disappearances which have defined his own life. As he sorts through half-memories of deaths both notorious and obscure, a composite emerges of violent light and seductive shadow, a Book of the Dead –and a Book of California.” –Joyelle McSweeney, author of Dead Youth, or, The Leaks



Alistair McCartney is the author of The End of the World Book, a finalist for the PEN USA Literary Award in Fiction and the Publishing Triangle’s Edmund White debut fiction award. His writing has appeared in 3AM, Animal Shelter, Fence, 1913, Gertrude, Lies/Isles and other journals. He teaches fiction in the MFA program at Antioch University Los Angeles, and oversees their undergraduate creative writing concentration. Born in Australia, he lives in Venice, California.


Inspirations for The Disintegrations:



Robert Bresson’s Le Diable Probablement


Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life


Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall his Past Lives


Robert Bresson’s Four Nights of A Dreamer


Joachim Trier’s Oslo, August 31st


Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Cemetery of Splendor


Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Mamma Roma


Robert Bresson’s Diary of A Country Priest


Gaspar Noe’s Enter The Void


David Robert Mitchell’s It Follows


Jean Rollin’s The Iron Rose




Peter Handke’s A Sorrow Beyond Dreams


JD Salinger’s The Catcher in The Rye


Rimbaud’s The Illuminations


Moby Dick


Blanchot’s Death Sentence


Joan Didion’s A Book of Common Prayer


Sontag on Bresson

Bresson on Bresson


The Bible


Dostoyevsky’s White Nights


Dennis Cooper’s The Marbled Swarm




Costica Ascinte’s photographs


Banks Violette


Alice Neel’s Portraits


Marlene Dumas’s Measuring Your Own Grave


Elizabeth Bishop’s Tombstones for Sale


David Dupuis’ In The Potters Ground


El Greco’s View of Toledo


The Devil’s Hole




Coffin Trick by Atlas Sound


Marquee Moon by Television


Brando by Scott Walker + Sunn O))) + Gisele Vienne


Spread your Bloody Wings by Smog


Black Angel’s Death Song by The Velvet Underground


All the People I like are Those that are dead by Felt


Into Distance by Var


Eulogy to Lenny Bruce by Nico


Les Voyages De L’Âme By Alcest


When People are dead by The Gobetweens


Jackie by Iceage


Your Ghost by Kristin Hersh


Til’ I die by the Beach Boys


Killer by Salem


Attic Lights by Atlas Sound


Artifacts and Clippings:


This Lighter


Cemetery Map Side A


Cemetery Map Side B


This Guy


The California Section of the LA Times


The Author


Book 1, Book 2, Book 3



Alistair McCartney will be reading from and discussing The Disintegrations at Skylight Bookstore in Silverlake, Saturday September 16th, 500pm. In New York he’ll read from it in the Dixon Place Lounge, Saturday October 21st, 900pm. Back in LA, he’ll read at Antioch University in Culver City, Tuesday November 7th, 630 pm.


Links to Some Other Things:

Excerpt in 3:AM magazine:

Thoughts on the Music that Inspired The Disintegrations:




The Dancing Corpse of Jill Yip

A corpse is a dead body, usually human. Though in Middle
English it just meant body, human or animal, alive or dead.

I’ve only laid eyes on one corpse. The corpse of Jill Yip. Jill was a dancer. A dancer is someone whose body moves.

Jill’s body stopped working. She died from an intestinal obstruction. This is when an abnormality blocks the intestines and the digestive system stops functioning and then everything breaks down. You can see X-rays of this condition on the Internet. There is a soft and hazy quality to the images: the bones, the dilated loops of bowel, the obstructions in question.

From what I heard, Jill had been experiencing pain, cramps, spasms. She thought the pain would pass. She went to the emergency room, near her apartment in Alhambra. They didn’t x-ray her. They must have been busy that night. They looked her over and gave her some pills and then sent her back home.
—-I imagine Jill tried to get some sleep. The pain woke her up; it will pass, it always does. But this was a new form of pain and she sensed something was wrong as her body went . . . haywire.

I believe Jill’s roommate was out at the time but was the one who later discovered her corpse.

There was some speculation that the harsh discipline of dancing had led to Jill’s death. One of the definitions of dance is to bring to a particular state or condition by dancing; e.g., she danced herself to exhaustion. Dancing is hard on bodies and on the internal organs. Dance forces the body to do things it isn’t necessarily designed to do.

I’m increasingly aware that death forces language to do things it was not designed to do. Language breaks down; it experiences cramps, spasms.

I saw Jill dance a handful of times. She danced with a company, but once I saw her perform a solo. Her only solo. I think it was called Pirate Dance. It was one of those dances with talking; Jill talked as she, her body, moved. She told a story about her past. A story is a series of sentences that move.
—-When Jill was a small girl, her family fled Vietnam on a boat. The journey was long and arduous. Pirates came on board and raped the women and children, threw some men overboard, left them to drown or to be eaten by sharks. Jill had to drink seawater. You could tell she was leaving all sorts of things out.
—-For the performance, Jill wore a pirate’s hat made out of newspaper. She wore a black eye patch, a belt around her waist, with a silver plastic pirate’s knife in a gold plastic scabbard: a child’s Halloween costume. She said the men who came on board wore fake paper hats, like they were pretending to be pirates, but that everything they did was real.

Jill and her family survived the journey and reached America.
At school, Jill said, wielding her fake knife at members of the audience, when my teacher asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I told her I want to be a pirate.
—-The dance ended with Jill intoning these lines again and again: I want to be a pirate. I want to commit atrocities. I did not succumb to the pirates. I escaped them.

I have no memory of the actual dance, the steps, the gestures, and even if I did, I would be unable to explain it to you, because it’s my belief, a belief that borders on the category of the spiritual, that the body moves outside of language.
—-There was no music, I can say that. Sometimes Jill would stop talking and dance silently, with a delicate and controlled violence. She would start to talk about what happened to her on that ship, but her words would sort of . . . drift off, and she would replace them with the ragged sound of her breathing and the clomping sound made by her feet.

When I learned of Jill’s death—Tim told me, one of the other dancers in her company had called him, he came into the kitchen to convey the news—it struck me as very . . . unjust.
—-What bothered me was not that Jill was twenty-nine, a month or two older than me, not even the hospital’s oversight, but the manner of death. Jill had overcome all those dangers as a child, made herself sick from salt water, come all this way, only to die . . . like this.
—-Somehow, I thought, staring at our kitchen walls, which are a bright Mexican blue, it would have been better to die at the hands of those pirates.
—-Jill’s cool, clipped voice ran through my head: I did not succumb to the pirates. I escaped them.

Jill Yip’s corpse was situated in a funeral parlor in Alhambra. Tim and I drove out there with our friends Danielle and Tre. Danielle’s a redhead; Tre has jet black hair. Though apart from Jill, who cares what any of us look like.
—-We all dressed in dark colors. The car was cramped and the day was warm and dusty.
—-The funeral parlor was on a street lined with factories—bed manufacturers, primarily—and other funeral parlors. A funeral parlor is a kind of factory; it makes death on a mass scale, through a process of maintaining. A parlor with a crematorium is also a factory, one that doesn’t produce anything but destroys things.
—-Yet reducing a body down to an urnful of ash—you’re still making something.

From The Disintegrations: A Novel by Alistair McCartney. Reprinted by permission of the University of Wisconsin Press. © 2017 by the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System. All rights reserved.




p.s. Hey.  This weekend is a joyous occasion for the blog because it gets to help usher the new novel by the incredible writer Alistair McCarney into visibility. Alistair has kindly put together a very entertaining and telling post to help the blog maximize its hosting duties, and you have a wonderful couple of days ahead of you. As always, please inflect your comments with your thoughts about what you’ve seen and read up above and share them with with Alistair. Thank you. And thanks so much, A., for the great pleasure and honor! ** Armando, Hi. Cool, sweet dreams. Oh, thanks for the note. Everyone, just a late breaking but important note that Armando’s album is rather only available at discount until September 12, and the codeword is ulalume. Thanks, man. ** Steve Erickson, Hey. Well, we’re hoping to avoid an all-nighter before the Sundance deadline, but I would imagine we’ll end up having one. I think maybe a case could be made that Perry’s girl-power message, as simplistic as it may be, could have more of an impact than it might seem, especially on her youngest fans. Sometimes a powerful inspiration can be or seem quite slight at the source. I don’t think ‘cultural appropriation’ is the black and white thing that it’s so currently trendy to knee-jerk generalize about and demonize. Hm, I’d be curious to see that Novo documentary. I’ll look for it. ** Nick Toti, Hi, Nick! Really nice to see you! Oh wow, if I had found that GIF you used, I would definitely have grabbed and employed it. Nice one. Thank you so much for the good words and thoughts about the GIF stack. That’s so nice to hear. How are you? What’s currently going on? ** Dóra Grőber, Hi! Well, I certainly will be excited if they accept the film. I’m assuming the chances aren’t that great, but hey, you never know. Yes, the subtitles are now in place. This weekend will be all about creating the titles and end credits, and apparently we have to put together a ‘package’ for the Sundance submission: logline, synopsis, statement of intent (ugh), etc. Lots to do. Ha ha, yes, those mysterious ‘moments’. I hope you have a whole batch of them this weekend. The trip will be worth it, for sure, but I totally understand the anxiety. Anxiety is the worst and a very tough opponent. The sound editor meeting went very well, yes. He’s prepared, and we’re close to being prepared, and we start work at 10 am on Tuesday. Oh, sad that Anita is going away. Denmark is awesome. I loved it when I was there. Where is the hostel? One more long, anxiety-provoking trip to visit her for you to steel yourself for maybe? Have a very lovely weekend, and let me know how it all went. ** Chris dankland, Hi! Ha ha, I kind of think it’s safe to say that fidget spinners are just dumb, addictive fun, but … I think I’ve said this here before but apparently I’m an extremely good candidate for hypnosis. When I was a teenager, it was a common thing for one of my friends to hypnotize me for everyone’s entertainment when we got bored. I’m really glad you’ve gotten your mind reattached to your writing and projects. God, it’s just so serious there. It really feels from the outside like a completely unprecedented disaster, so huge and complicated that it’s hard to imagine how long and what it will take to return any sense of normal life there. I’m so glad you’re okay, and it’s obviously really great that you’re doing what you can to help others. ** Jamie, Jamie! Man, it’s great to see you! I’ve been concerned about you as you can well imagine. Oh, yeah, everything has been okay here. I’m fully thrown into the film work. I’m awfully glad that your health is upswinging. And, yes, I want to help celebrate Hannah’s birthday and see you as soon as you guys can sort out when. My address … I’ll mail it to you. Gosh, thank you, man. You could also just wait and give it to me if that adds incentive to your plans to return. Stay in bed if bed is the answer, man. Give your body all the time it needs, okay? My weekend will involve a bunch of film stuff, and it should be very occupied and hopefully a success. Take incredibly good care! May Bambi show up at your door this weekend with a skyscraper of French pastries on her back. Even more optimistic love, Dennis. ** _Black_Acrylic, Ha, what were the odds. I’m very glad the roundabout venture was a success, and that your arm did the right thing and cooperated. Framed, awesome! That’s a gorgeous work. Photo, yes. Cool about your involvement in the Sophie Lisa Beresford show. She’s terrific. Why do you think your involvement will entail? ** Misanthrope, Hi, G. Ha ha, great that my statement made it through. Cookout, cool. No, I wasn’t into superheroes at all. I never read comic books as a kid, and that’s basically the only place they lived back then. Well, I did like the 60s ‘Batman’ show, I used to watch reruns of the old ‘Superman’ show. No, I don’t have any interest in or feeling for superheroes at all. I end up watching the movies and sometimes they charm me a little, but it’s just like looking at particularly entertaining aquariums or something. ** James Nulick, Hi, James! Good to see you, buddy boy. Huh, you’re the second person to spin possible conspiracy theories about fidget spinners. What a strange world were living in at the moment. Yes, we’re at the end credits, but they’re not the end. We need to do them now because the sound work, which will be the last thing other than making a trailer and the poster and stuff, will be too consuming to allow for other work. Sundance taking the movie would be cool, yes. It’s a crapshoot. Well, if that happened, I would certainly imagine Zac and I would attend, and hopefully we would be invited to on their dime even. My favorite Duvert is ‘Strange Landscape’. Have a weekend of creative exploding and general excellence. ** Okay. Please return your faculties to exploring and pondering and purchasing and (and so on) Alistair’s book, which, having read it, I can absolutely assure you is really great. See you on Monday.


  1. Steve Erickson

    Wow, I never thought someone would simultaneously cite Jean Rollin, Salem (whatever happened to them?) and Felt as influences. This book sounds great. I passed by McNally Jackson yesterday but didn’t go in. I will definitely look for it next time I go there.

    The doc is just called CINEMA NOVO, and it won an award for the best documentary to play Cannes in 2016. However, Cannes is notorious for showing very few documentaries – seriously, I think that in its entire history, they’ve shown 4 or 5 in competition, 2 by Michael Moore (who is hardly my idea of a great documentarian) – so the pickings for that award were probably slim.

    Over the past 2 days, I’ve become fascinated by the Swedish band Ghost after reading an atheist blog which praised their video “He Is” as “a Satanic parody of Christian preachers.” I did a Facebook post on it Thursday. At first, I thought their music was too wimpy – Mercyful Fate is their obvious role model, along with late ’70s Blue Oyster Cult – but I’ve come to realize that many of their songs are extremely catchy nevertheless. I think it’s cool to write very catchy pop-metal songs almost entirely devoted to the subject of Satan. The band takes great care in creating a theatrical image and their videos are excellent and well thought out. The singer performs as “Papa Emeritus,” a kind of dark Pope wearing corpse-paint and a robe decorated with upside down crosses. The musicians wear masks onstage and are referred to as “nameless ghouls.” From what I’ve read, their live shows are very theatrical and the band has said they’re trying to create the atmosphere of a religious ritual. I seriously doubt they’re actual Satanists, but numerous Scandinavian metal bands have said “Satan rules, fuck Christianity.” “He Is” and its video do this with a sense of humor. If there’s a point to the Satanic imagery beyond trying to promote the band by provoking right-wing Christians and using a gimmick which has a very long history in heavy metal, it’s finding an image of freedom in Satan, which actually goes back to Milton’s PARADISE LOST. From what I’ve heard, this is a recurring theme in their lyrics, and there’s actually a weirdly positive vibe to their music. Googling them reveals that there are many people who do indeed take them very seriously – the expected outraged Christians (I found a thread of Catholics praying for their souls before a show in Philadelphia before someone with common sense finally posting something like “You’re fools to take the band at face value”), Christians wondering if it’s OK to listen to them, atheists who are enthusiastic about them, and even one theologian who wrote a paper analyzing the way their lyrics depict Satan (and not passing judgment in any direction at all on it.) Alas, I discovered them just as they’re falling apart. Their true identities and mundane bullshit has been revealed to their world recently, as their singer has been sued by 4 of the musicians for not paying them royalties and he has assembled a completely new lineup. I have the feeling whatever music they make from this point will probably suck, but I’d definitely recommend looking up the videos for “He Is,” “Square Hammer” (definitely the catchiest song about Satanism I’ve ever heard) and “Cirice” (which won a Grammy last year for best metal performance and got tons of airplay on US rock radio as well.)

    • Steve Erickson

      “Square Hammer,” which was their last single, actually got to #1 on US rock radio, which is pretty funny considering the chorus has the line “Are you ready to swear right here, right now before the devil?”

  2. Nick Toti

    Hi Dennis,

    I’m good! Currently I’m hashing out all the travel details for a screening of some of my movies at a university in the Midwest later this month. An old friend of mine is visiting the U.S. from Dubai and we’re going to be meeting up and traveling together. It’s a very short trip so the logistics are a bit tricky. I’m excited though!

    How are you? I hope everything is good. A couple weeks ago you mentioned something about “big news you couldn’t discuss yet” but I never saw any subsequent announcement. Does that ring a bell or am I going crazy?

  3. Steve Erickson

    To illustrate what I was saying about Ghost’s music having a positive vibe and using Satan as a metaphor for freedom, “He Is” refers to Satan as “insurrection” and “the disobedience that holds us together.” Whatever your spiritual beliefs are, I think this is a healthy way to think about your deity, especially in the current political climate. American Christians could talk about Jesus in the same way, and some leftist Christians actually do, but not nearly enough, and the religious right has basically defined Christianity as something totally hateful, which in turn has led to artists like Ghost defining themselves in opposition to it. I may be way over-thinking a gimmicky rock band, but I think there is some substance to their music.

  4. Misanthrope

    Alistair, Legend! Congratulations! I’ll be buying this very soon. I’m very happy for you and very much looking forward to reading this. I loved The End of the World Book, and I’m expecting this to be a triumph too. Pressure! But good pressure, sir. Really enjoyed the excerpt. This should be fun.

    Dennis, A couple of the images you used contained the Batman logo and I remember you saying you’d watched the Batman show growing up, so I thought I’d ask what you thought about superheroes. Me, I did read some comics growing up: Green Lantern, Flash, Spiderman. What’s funny is that I gave my old desk to a cousin years ago, and many of those comics were in the drawer. She was like, “Why’d you give me all those comics?” Me: “Because I forgot they were in there and didn’t even look before you came to pick it up.” Which was true.

    Big Green Lantern fan. If he’s not in the new Justice League movie, I’m a be pissed. He was a founding member.

    So funny, though, how many of those old shows -Batman, Lost in Space, etc.- were so fucking campy.

    Got my blood drawn this morning for the re-test. Be interesting to see how this one turns out. They did the diabetes test too. So weird to me, considering the weight I’ve lost and the pretty strict, rather low sugar diet I’m on. But whatever. We’ll see. And if things are really fucked on this one, I’m going to ask lots of questions.

    It wouldn’t surprise me at all if a lot of this shit is coming directly from the faulty mesh that was used in my last hernia surgery. Maybe it’s just sending fucked up signals all through my body, you know? Who knows? We’ll find out one way or another.

  5. Sypha

    I had the supreme pleasure of reading this book last month and I highly recommend it. Nice to learn a bit more about some of the things that inspired it, along with some of the research/background material.

  6. Tosh Berman

    Looking forward to Alistair’s novel, and I love it when you focus your blog on one author and a specific book by that writer. It reminds me when I was writing “Sparks-Tastic” in London, I would put stuff on my blog about the writing of the book and its influences. I think doing something like that really helps with the writing of or for a project. Alistair, I enjoy today’s blog. I’ll try to make it to the Skylight reading/event.

  7. New Juche

    Hey Dennis!

    Hope you are well. Sorry not to post this sooner. No excuses.

    Congratulations to you and Zac on Sundance! And may it yield greater boons yet. When is the festival?

    For the last few weeks now there are weird things with the comments like what Misanthrope was describing. It still happens all the time. Sometimes the new post appears half a day after you’ve posted it. A weird thing is, if I visit your blog on my tablet thing the problem is worse, especially with the delayed post appearance.

    I read the GIF hypnosis stack. Sometimes it is tempting to race through a stack. But this one for obvious reasons really demonstrates with clarity the pay off in reading them slowly and carefully. Or perhaps they dictate their own pace, so better closely and carefully. Was also surprised by the political punchline/epilogue. I also read with great interest the long and intelligent article on your GIF work that was linked a short while ago.

    This book by Alistair McCartney featured here today looks very, very interesting. Hi Alistair. In terms of its subject and strategy – but not its replete spectrum of influences – it is really similar to the book I’m currently working on. I was arrested by the excerpt and the whole idea, so sincerely mean to get this, if any fucker on Amazon is willing to post it to Thailand. Who is Banks Violet??

    I’m in Bangkok again. A poorly attended but well paid talk on buffalo sacrifice. Now for a few days of drinking and stickiness before home for more work. I’m typing so much the pads of my fingers have worn to bone.

    Best to both


  8. Matthew Doyle

    Hi Dennis!

    It’s Matt here. Hope all goes well with submitting to Sundance! I’ll be knocking on wood and crossing fingers. I told Fiona that no reply on L.A. reading means you’ve got other things on your plate to prioritize right now, which is surely the case. But, on the off chance it didn’t make it through some filter I wanted to mention it here. As I said in the email, we’d just love to have you here!

    I’m going through some big changes. Started teaching at Loyola Marymount, a course on ‘Multimedia Narrative’. It is so strange to have students do what you tell them to do. I assigned them ‘The White Album’ and thought “Oh, there’s no way in this digital media class that they’re going to read all of this…” and they did! I’m still reflecting on the level of responsibility I have to them. Has given me cause for a lot of thought about what teaching is, what learning is, what it means to have responsibility and rapport with one’s students. What is teachable/what isn’t. I’m quite looking forward to teaching your GIF novels in our unit on web-based narratives, alongside other social media narratives like Amalia Ulman’s work. It’s a studio art class, so one of their projects is to create a narrative using a pre-existing web platform (Blogspot, Instagram, etc).

    Spontaneously revisited some of your writing in ‘Guide’ to help think about a relationship that I’m in right now. It has elements that resemble the relationship with ‘Luke’ in the book. That holiness or worship, ga-ga, returned with nothing. I hadn’t read the book in a while. I always associate ‘Guide’ with Los Angeles. Your writing was one of the filters through which I understood and projected onto my experience of L.A. when I first arrived. I used to tell people that there is an ethics of detachment to friendship and romance in Los Angeles. That you can’t expect too much. The geography overwhelms the horizon of intersubjective certainty. Black holes emerge. One of the things that has been coming up for me recently is this idea of misrecognition. Misrecognizing the person/thing that is right for you, misrecognizing destiny. We want to think something is fated, and in L.A. with nowhere as the backdrop everyone’s recognition of fated-ness takes place at different angles and times, missing a clockspring. Has it always been like that here? Have you been watching the new Twin Peaks? My friend Jason keeps telling me it’s like Lynch has completely discarded chronology.

    I’m cat sitting in Brentwood, and have been a little neglectful of my duties to the cats, so I’m going to jet up there real quick to feed them. Heatwave in L.A. this past week, wildfires in Burbank. Hope you have a lovely weekend.


  9. _Black_Acrylic

    @ Alistair, thank you for this peek behind the scenes and view of the actual scenes themselves. The book looks great and has been added to my wishlist. I saw The Iron Rose for the first time last week and loved it, so will take that as some kind of omen.

    @ DC, there’s a photo of me here with the newly framed Perth Road Acid Flashback print.

    Re the mooted Sophie Lisa Beresford show in Glasgow, I know very little, like not even what gallery it’s in or what my own role is meant to be but I look forward to it anyway. Who knows, I may even be driving by then which would be a definite bonus.

    Spurred on by Jonathan’s excellent ‘the rough with the smooch’ Mixcloud playlist, today I took delivery of the Maxwell Sterling ‎– Hollywood Medieval LP. It’s really great, pressed on luscious orange vinyl with artwork by his mum, the Manchester postpunk icon Linder.

  10. David Ehrenstein

    Looking forward to the Skylight Books gig.
    Nice that you linked video of Nico singing Tim’s song about Lenny.
    Never forget seeing Nico at the Whiskey with Tim as her “special Guest” Not long before he died (quite likely murdered)

  11. Alistair

    Dennis, thanks so SO much for making this day happen and uploading all my stuff, esp. considering how busy you are. Is the editing going well? Did you guys have fun at the park? Its crazy hot here in LA, even here in Venice. Everyone is complaining. I’m really glad you liked my book!

    Steve E, thanks–if McNally’s doesn’t have it, ask them to order one!
    New Juche, cool that you’re working in a similar terrain! Banks Violette is a great visual artist who kind of disappeared for years but I think he has resurfaced and even has a new show recently.
    David E, oh so glad you’ll be there, and how great you saw nico with Tim h. I saw her in Australia, in the late 80’s probably not too long before she died.
    Sypha, thanks for your kindness and glad it expanded yr understanding of the book!
    Misanthrope, thanks, and sorry your body is being so rough on you.
    Black Acrylic, thanks, and isn’t The Iron Rose awesome? Are you in Glasgow? That’s where my dad’s from, or Newarthill nearby.
    Tosh, thanks, and hope you can make it to Skylight, would be great to say hey!
    Thanks again to Dennis and everyone for their attention xo

    • _Black_Acrylic

      @ Alistair, not in Glasgow but Dundee which is not too far away. Going back for Sophie’s show seems like a nice idea.

  12. Kevin Killian

    I have my copy of Alistair’s book. Doubly stoked to find out Holy Cross Cemetery is in it! So close to Antioch…. That’s how I stumbled across it, when Alistair and Dodie were both teaching at Antioch and I rolled downhill across Slauson to enter the gates of the loveliest and nuttiest place on earth…. The giant statue of Christ erected by board president Rosalind Russell before her death to top her grave, and the made the board promise that no matter what the future brought, no other celeb would be allowed to put up a tomb taller than hers…. Bela Lugosi’s grave strewn with fake wax fangs and plastic spiders, next to Bing Crosby, whose admirers leave pennies (“Pennies from Heaven”), John Ford’s grave with American flags crossed over it to honor his service in the Navy, Darby Crash on a different hill, Rita Hayworth, sad sad Sharon Tate grave, more like a palisade with her unborn baby buried there too, and her mom. So many more. Lots of love to you Alistair and to you too Dennis xxxx

  13. Kyler

    Hi Alistair – very much enjoyed this and look forward to Dixon Place Lounge, which I’ve put on my calendar. It’ll be good to meet you there! Congrats on an exciting launch here.

    Dennis, I really liked those hypnotic gifs, but they didn’t make me sleepy at all – they stimulated me! (similar to my marijuana days – kept me up all night, never got tired, enjoyed the hallucinations, but not the paranoia) – good luck with the film festival submission!

  14. Dóra Grőber


    I’m definitely keeping my fingers crossed for Sundance!!
    How did everything go? Did you manage to create the titles and end credits? The “package” for the Festival sounds like a bit of an ‘eh’ work, especially with the statement of intent, but I guess the goal is big or tempting enough to make it worth it.
    I did have a “moment” and wrote my short Editor’s Note yesterday. SCAB is almost finished now! The funny thing is that I started putting together my ideas for the blog post and I also decided to create a “this is what inspires SCAB” kind of collection (of photos and books, etc.) and then I saw yesterday’s post and I got a little discouraged. I mean… obviously, the contents are different but don’t you think it’d be too repetitive for the blog space to have such a similar post layout again in the near future?
    It’s very true about anxiety. I’ve been battling with a mild(ish) anxiety disorder basically all my life and it’s not pretty.
    The hostel where Anita starts working today is in Aarhus so it’s a pretty big city! And yes, absolutely. I’ve never been to Denmark but I’m very attracted to it especially because of its very vivid art scene nowadays. When were you there? Did you go to Copenhagen?
    I hope you had a wonderful and prosperous weekend!!

    @Alistair: this post was amazing! Thank you so much for sharing it! I found it very, very inspiring and I’ll definitely pick up a copy of your book! The excerpt made me want to read the whole thing right now!

  15. Steve Erickson

    On the subject of both using Satanism as a metaphor for rebellion and appropriation, I recently started listening to the band Zeal and Ardor. You probably learned about them well before me, because they self-released their album on Bandcamp about a year ago before getting signed to a larger label that issued it in physical form and put it on iTunes. But it’s one of the only rock albums I’ve heard recently that made me think “What the fuck? I’ve never heard anything that sounds like this.” In case you’ve never heard them, they combine evocations of slave chants, blues and gospel with black metal, except that the gospel elements are turned in a Satanic direction. The guy behind the band, a biracial Swiss-American man named Manuel Gagneux, has said he’s deliberately trying to appropriate black metal, a music created by white Scandinavians that has often been associated with racism. He’s also trying to evoke an alternate past in which African-Americans rebelled against being forced to become Christians. On some level, the band seems like an Afro-futurist project, even if their references are to the past, and Gagneux is talented enough that at first, I thought the music was based around samples, but it’s all newly recorded with him singing and playing all the instruments. Of course, a person of color appropriating black metal is not the kind of thing that pisses people off about the concept of appropriation, but the fact that he also lifted the Satanic elements that are sometimes part of black metal and grafted them onto African-American history is a genuine provocation. Weirdly, Gagneux used to play in a band that sounded like Perfume Genius!

  16. Bill

    Congratulations on the new novel, Alistair. Very intriguing excerpts and collection of influences.

    Dennis, it’s been record-breaking heat around here (106! Yow). So a lot of lying around semi-comatose staring at your spinny images from Friday. Not a lot of progress on projects. The heat seems to have broken, so no excuses today.

    By the way, do you know

    Translated by Brian Evenson! Pretty good so far.

    Just came across this intriguing trailer:

    Has a bit of that Shane Carruth feel. Music by Radian! And the wonderful Angelica Castillo appears somewhere, mysteriously.


  17. Steve Erickson

    New Errol Morris mini-series that sounds way better than his last film:

  18. Jamie

    Hey Alistair McCartney! Your book looks excellent and I’m totally buying a copy. You had me at ‘inspired by the song Marquee Moon’, tbh (although I noted that I wouldn’t want to read a book inspired by the whole album, oddly). I really like the format of the post too – the photos are all lovely. You are a fellow of good and intriguing tastes. Excellent post and I hope you’re pleased with the book. I can’t wait to read it.

    Yo Dennis! How are you? The comments bug seems to have got a little better. This is the first time I’ve not had to comment on my phone in a few days.
    I’m feeling better and better, thank fuck. Still not amazing, but improving. Wow, that was a horrible wee phase. The short while I was in Paris now seems like a collection of outtakes from Jacob’s Ladder, all speeding trains, malignance and sweat! Yes, I’ll give you your present when next we come. Hannah is insisting that Parc Asterix still has to be visited, which is cool.
    Did you have a good weekend? Exciting that you’re entering PGL for Sundance. Hope all that prep and work is going swimmingly.
    I’ve been doing tons of writing in an almost feverish manner and I’m intrigued to look over it later on. It may well be awful as it was entirely unplanned and almost vomited out. We shall see.
    May your Monday be paved with scones, butter and jam (if you like those things on your scones).
    Triple agent love,

  19. h

    RIP Mr Ashbery

  20. Jeff J

    Hey Alistair – I’ve started your book and am loving it. I really enjoyed this day — wonderful to see the various influences from films, books, music, art. You have impeccable taste, which isn’t surprising. Some intriguing things in there I didn’t know as well and look forward to checking out.

    Dennis – Sad to hear about Walter Becker and especially John Ashbery dying. A brutal day for art. I’m sure it hit you much harder and hope you’re doing okay. How well did you know Ashbery?

    Saw ‘Good Time’ this weekend by the Safdie Bros and enjoyed it. Parts of it had a headlong Cassavetes and Abel Ferrera energy and the aggressive soundtrack by Oneohtrix Point Never was interesting and effective. Off now to watch the finale of ‘Twin Peaks.’

  21. David Ehrenstein


    Also Walter Becker

    Therefore Everything Must Go

  22. Thomas Moronic

    Alistair – this looks totally incredible. The excerpt is so good. I’m a huge fan of your first novel and it holds a very special place in my heart because of the time and circumstances that I read it in. I went back to that book a ton of times and have yearned for a new book from you for a long time so this is super exciting. Can’t wait for it to arrive. Total respect and admiration from me to you.

    Dennis – firstly, such sad news about John Ashbery. What a total fucking hero. And his work was so good right up until the end, which blows my mind. I owe you a huge thanks for introducing me to his work many many years ago now. His stuff holds a special place and always will.

    I’m back in the UK now, obviously. So nice to see you and Zac last week. Richter scale hugs to the both of you.

    Thomas xoxo

  23. Arne

    Dennis-I’m trying to get you in touch with David Shields, the author, and haven’t found a way to do so other than leaving a comment here. Could you send David a message? His email is

  24. David

    Dear Dennis Cooper,
    I greatly admire your work and have been deeply influenced by it.

    My new book, LOVE IS SADNESS, a collage meditation on sex, love, marriage, and power, is forthcoming next year.

    May I send you a PDF? It’s a very brief book of prose—fewer than 40,000 words. I’d love to hear your reaction, if by chance you have the time to read it.

    Sincerely, David Shields

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