In Damien Ark’s debut novel, Fucked Up, seventeen-year-old Elliott attempts to survive the trauma of being the sole survivor of a serial killer while his abusive mother reinforces his inevitable cycle of self-destruction. Diagnosed with Childhood-Onset Schizophrenia and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Elliott numbs himself with endless sex and drugs, blindly falls into the hands of rapists and murderers, but continues to search for some sense of hope in his life. Set in a postmodern dystopia on the verge of the apocalypse, Fucked Up is an eclectic take on transgressive literature that finds surreal romanticism under the grit of one of the most confrontational narratives ever written.
“Fucked Up gnaws on its angst with Ark’s prose like a precision hydraulic grinder spewing an eminently harsh noise opera of apocalyptic paranoias worming through the barebacked orifice of an urban sex-revenge epic that is gloriously captivating as it is inflamed and gaping.” —Elytron Frass
“savagery boils underneath the household. there are shotguns loaded w/ flechettes pointed at you inside of every wall from every angle. snakes with tanto blades & drenched in sweet cologne are hunting you. you & everyone around you is armed to the teeth. escape is unnecessary. we’re all demons here. liveleak gore videos are going into syndication. the whore sells sex soaked in dirt & public executions on the same ticket. a boy fucks his terror down as car bombs cook pedestrians. the trains will keep running off sheer ocean cliffs. with dense lethality damien ark is going to decapitate your moral comforts.” —MIKA (tokyo_vamp)
“Echoing the apocalyptic poetics of Stephen Tunney’s Flan, the kaleidoscopically perverse interior landscape of Alfred Chester’s Exquisite Corpse, and the emotional complexity of Dennis Cooper’s My Loose Thread, Damien Ark’s astounding debut creates a trauma-scape so massive it transcends the merely personal and embraces the familial, communal, animal, and environmental violence all around us. Relentless in its brutality and boundless in its compassion, endlessly explicit, sickeningly funny, deeply spiritual, and formally maximalist in every sense, this book will try to kill you and then terrorize you back to life with a sublime alchemy that turns filth, rage, humiliation, and despair into something so pristinely, purely human you must read it to believe it because this book invented it. Fucked Up is an era-defining work which stakes its soul on the most perverse notion possible: that hope might flourish in spite of all.” —Maryse Meijer
The book of the summer is now the novel of the year. Enter 2020, combustible and fraught, the mass lapsarian hangover, the Eschaton underway, the fires and floods, the privation, the mass casualties, the lifting of the veil on so-called public institutions, safety nets, governing norms and corporate bureaucracy as a cover for sex criminals, sociopathic predators and insidious drivers of perverse incentives, the drug-depredated populace. Fucked Up is a relentless onslaught of brutality to stagger the fainthearted, an incomparable monolith, a testament to what is printable, a spectacular orgy of the gruesome and profane, of violence and depravity raw, uncut and unadulterated, eerily prophetic, bearing an uncanny resemblance to modern times. This is a tender porn novel for the disaffected, a revelation that insists on your undivided attention, replete with endearing misfits and wanton disreputables. A radio dispatch from the basement of devastation and despair, spiritually righteous. Flickers of beauty and hope haunt each page, as our narrator reckons with their raw deal inheritance and the gift of life, friends and lovers, states of ecstasy and withdrawal, uncommon beauty in the scourged humanity of its world’s denizens. While Ark doesn’t exactly world-build, the atmosphere created here envelops and lingers in the sensorium. Once inside, a reader feels transfixed and their outlook execrated, awakened to the appalling nature of the status quo unmasked and hypocrisies laid bare, an emporium of horrors unimaginable here confronted, unflinching, with a tonal sleight of hand that straddles the comical, the absurd and the darkly distraught and dejected, the frank portrayal of destructive malevolence which through this book will leave indelible psychic marks. Like all redemptive art, Fucked Up ultimately comes to terms with its own hideousness via a tightrope gallows humor and unabashed zeal for the puncta of bliss the written word renders breathlessly. Peduncular, in bloom, unmistakably profound and uncompromising, Damien Ark boldly lays claim to the mantle of transgression as their birthright. It’s their lane now, and may you be emboldened by their audacity and permanently unlearn conformity. Get your angelic kicks before the coming storm, the spoils you reap will blind a god, somewhere between a prayer and a primal scream. Above all, Fucked Up is an antediluvian clarion call, a furious indictment, a work moral and political. – Manuel Marrero
INTERVIEW (Excerpt) –
MM) The book is extremely lurid and violent, and relentless at that. Paraphilic sex, child murder and abuse, sexual violence, urban blight, hard drugs, suicide, self-harm, abject poverty and despair, opiatic anhedonia, and lives painfully lived abound in sordid detail. Trauma haunts the narrative as if the characters are marked, forsaken, doomed on arrival. What made this such a preoccupation for you? Do you have a fondness for “ugly art?” Pessimistic art? Antagonistic art?
DA) Trauma is the primary focus of the novel. It’s the core of where it started and it’s in my blood. I remember being a kid and reading books about survivors of rape and sex trafficking, and they had the most bullshit Disney endings, while I was in group therapy for survivors of childhood sexual abuse, thinking to myself, there’s no hope for any of us, so where’s our story? I went to a sobriety school and barely anyone came out of that place clean. My entire life has been spent around people that have been abused or have abused others.
It only makes sense that with an upbringing like mine, growing up surrounded by drugs and alcohol and having to talk with others for hours every week about my experience of being sexually abused, that I’d write this. Think of the sickest person in your head – I’ve met them. I know them. I can vividly feel them when I close my eyes.
Shock value was never my intention or of any interest to me while writing this book. If anything, that’s the last thing I want people to see, even though that’s probably an impossible task. FU is the ugly truth of what many people that experience trauma and mental illness go through when they aren’t given help and fall through all the cracks in this garbage society.
Ugly, pessimistic, and antagonistic art attracts me more than other forms of art, but I’m also pretty fond of lush romantic poetry.
MM) There’s some naturalistic, eschatological themes and imagery throughout, with the monsoon rain, floods and serpent fauna recurring as more than mere symbolic motifs, but features of the omnipresent, entropic milieux. Did you have climate change and the end of the world in mind? It’s a timely subject matter. Tell me about the pythons.
DA) If you’re in my age range (younger millennials and “zoomers”), then you’ve most likely grown up with the knowledge of climate change, the apocalyptic aspect of it, and how our world leaders care more about their profit than the greater good of humanity. It’s my personal belief that we’re at the point of no return. I don’t think it’s even possible to survive in a world where we’re attempting to find balance beyond what’s inevitable. Assuming you can live with the turmoil flow is inconceivable to me.
Climate change isn’t the primary focus of the novel, but it’s there in the atmosphere and the background for the entirety of it, sometimes sneaking in with a stronger presence here and there. There’s also this apocalyptic scenario involving an asteroid heading toward Earth that plays throughout the novel. However, nobody pays much attention to it, as it’s more written in symbolic terms than literal.
As a pluviophile, I knew I wanted to explore the nature of constant rain in a novel. At times, it’s cleansing and harmonic; other times, it’s destructive and claustrophobic. I’d like all of my novels to have a weather theme concerning climate change. It’s hard for me to believe you can write anything modern anymore without including the backdrop of our rapidly changing planet.
The pythons are one of many symbols in the novel, just like the Loretto staircase, ghosts, tropical plants, etc. Most of these ideas come from obsessions and dreams of my own. If you look up dream interpretations of various symbols, it adds other layers of meaning to those things. When I started to understand what those things meant in my own dreams, I figured that I could intertwine them into my novel as well. However, people can interpret these things however they want, and I find that more interesting than my own cheat codes to the novel.
MM) I believe and you believe this book is a marker of queer literature. A testament to how the queer experience can be depicted, with no easy categories, buried under an onslaught of bleak brutality. What kind of voice for the marginalized do you see yourself as? How do you feel about the state of risky literature with respect to the climate, and what does it mean for the market you’re trying to target? What’s your message for others like you?
DA) Well, I wrote it for myself, as a gay male who doesn’t feel that he fits in anywhere, especially with mental illness issues. Most queer literature, even when it’s focused on serious subjects, feels too safe. It feels like it’s made to be marketable. A fucking fantasy. You can’t go too deep into reality. People might disagree with me, but I think it’s the LGBT+ community that has made some of these barriers for people like me to get their voice out. You’re more likely to experience all of these horrible things like homelessness, abuse, survival sex, etc because you’re LGBT+, but we need to be a safe space that only writes about those things in specific ways that are as non-triggering, ultra-inclusive, and safe as possible for all audiences to read. Yeah, fuck that bullshit. The market I’m personally targeting is probably small, but it’s mainly for outcasts, especially young people that currently feel like they have no voice. I hope it inspires other people to take risks and be true to themselves. I’m sure anyone that’s curious about the experiences and heavy themes will take an interest too because we’re all attracted to the morbid, whether we realize it or not. Some people get a thrill out of being shocked and put into hidden worlds they’re unfamiliar with. Of course, people also love reading transgressive fiction because it’s typically outsider and innovative, so I hope FU fits into and also breaks that bubble of expectations.
Read the full interview here – https://expatpress.com/interview-with-damien-ark/
RANDOM INSPIRATION AND HINTS –
The ‘miraculous staircase’ in the Loretto Chapel. I had a friend that had a painted of it and he claimed that it was haunted. We used to go ghost hunting together. Something about the paintings story captivated me. Ghosts and the supernatural are also a recurring theme in the novel.
One of the characters, Gavin, owns two green tree pythons. I’ve always found these creatures fascinatingly beautiful. I think they work well as a representation of him and his brother, among other things.
Rain is a primary theme and tool that I used when writing the novel. It has ambience to it and destructive qualities. I imagined a story where it’s constantly storming, sometimes in torrential and apocalyptic manners. Climate change is a backdrop that mirrors the instability of the character’s lives and is also a reality that we face in modern days. Rarely, if ever, do I see climate change play a role in stories.
I’ve always been fascinated with this serial killer, especially the way that he was killed. He was whipped, stabbed, and then hung from a crane, for the crimes of raping and murdering children. There’s something very cathartic about that story. In the images, he doesn’t seem to have any emotions either, as if the pain means nothing to him. I related this experience the people that abused me and the experiences of people I know that have been abused. It often feels like even when there’s ‘justice’, they’ve already won or gotten what they wanted. The serial killer that Elliott survived is based off this person. Even though he’s dead the entire novel, he remains a primary antagonist by living in Elliott’s head. In my opinion, this mirrors the experience of what PTSD is like, or at least in my case.
Southpacific’s self-titled album and Airiel’s Winks & Kisses compilation were the most played pieces of music that I listened to while writing the novel.
Gavin (character mentioned earlier) is also a noise musician. I imagine that the music that he creates kind of sounds like this – harsh noise with lush ambient synths.
AN EXCERPT –
—— My aimless mind wanders from the voices and then back to the video on my laptop. Faggots slamming meth in a parking garage and trading their infected loads. Even worse, they’re proud of their disease. That’s what gets me off. The video pauses, won’t finish loading, so I close out of it and switch to another tab. More updates on a mass shooting. First female teenager that has committed a mass shooting and took out half of her school, over three hundred other kids. How many children ended up having their heads blown to pieces in it? How many bodies exploded in desolate hallways? When the bullet impacts the flesh it causes limbs to rip apart. How long did she plan for this? You can find the footage online. Found it. I know that God is here with me and I know that God is watching. The video comes to a cold stop and I stare at the arrow that urges me to replay it. How could someone do something like that? Pulled the fucking trigger on that ten-year-old girl. Didn’t even think about it as she squeezed it. All because she was bullied. Will the little girl have a little pink casket that her mutilated body is shoved into and what will she look like a month after her death? I want to see the chest explosion and the maggots in her flesh. But most of all, I want to see this girl that killed all of these children die, too. I want to see her hanging from a crane. See her impaled through her pussy and out through her mouth on a spike. See her face when the judge tells her that she’s getting the death sentence. That’s the face I want to print off and cum to and rip apart. Pink caskets and wasted tissues filled with cum.
—— Now I understand what everyone sees in you. The words that those sick pedophiles said to me as they touched me scatters storm clouds inside of my head. How could Bijeh resist? God fucking damn, you were one sexy little kid. The shyer and more innocent they are meaning the better the victim, the louder they’ll scream, the tighter their ass will be. Such a hot fucking face. Too bad your schizo meds gave you that disgusting belly. Otherwise… Sexy little kid. Sexy. Little. Kid.
—— Is it okay if I spend a few more years holding myself and crying under a bed as I mourn the childhood that I was never able to have? Can I? Don’t hurt me. Don’t. Hurt me. Why does my throat tense up every time that I try to scream? Why do I always gush into a frenzy of laughter after I finish sobbing for hours? This isn’t funny. Is it? Ha. HA HA! HA HA HA HA! Can we start over, mother? Can I be a child again? What would we do? Oh, I know! Let’s play Yahtzee. Pajama party! A tea for you and a tea for me. What else could the two of us do? Smooth jazz records with the kitchen windows open? A bubble bath and weekend cartoons? Dress up barbies? Pineapple yogurt and coloring books? Stupid faggot piece of shit. I love you too! Off to school. See you! Don’t you ever come back.
—— Final cigarette. I light it when I hear the front door open, which tells me that Dylan’s home. The buzz brings me back to reality and out of my role-playing fantasies of re-creating my childhood. It’s strange how quickly I can transform from being that unscathed boy and into this primal animal.
—— My feet kick at the seashells on the bed as I reach towards the dresser to grab a bottle of lubricant and the same dirty towel that we’ve used countless times before. I situate myself comfortably in bed and suck hard on my cigarette before he opens the door. Eyes locked on each-other. Attempting to match each other’s dance in order to see who’s the first to give in. Dylan drops his EMT jacket, leans his back against the wall, crosses his arms, and simply waits. “How do you want it,” he asks. “All of the way? No holding back?”
—— “No holding back,” I regurgitate. But I want even more than that. I want to be able to wake up in pain over it. Whatever it takes to make me feel human again.
—— After I ash my cigarette I step out of bed and move towards him. My eyes glance towards his jeans. His hands are tucked into his pockets as he tries to refrain from squeezing at his obvious erection. The back of his shirt is soaked with sweat from having exhausted his body all day. I try to squeeze the liquid out of it as I press the left side of my face against his chest. A part of me is crying. The other part wants to be torn apart limb by limb. When our lips meet, I nibble on the tip of his tongue to signal to him that it’s okay to bite me. It’s just one of our many codes that we’ve constructed over the past few weeks.
—— “You showered,” he notes in-between placing hickies all over my shoulders and neck. “I’m going to eat you all up tonight. So. Are you wearing it? The jockstrap? Let me feel it.”
I push him against the wall with all of my strength and embrace his skin, pulling at the hairs at his armpits, pinching his nipples with my fingernails, my tongue delving as far as it can penetrate inside of his mouth. It’s a fight I don’t want to win. As soon as he has the button and fly of my pants undone, he trips me to the floor and swiftly pins my wrists down. Our gaze connects again. He twists and squeezes just like I like it.
—— Before he goes to tear off my shirt, I stop him, “You’re wearing too much shit. At least take off your shoes. And look at all of the fucking mud you tracked into your brother’s room.”
—— “Shut it.” He teases me before he does the unexpected. Tosses his shoes at the door, stuffs both of his dirty white socks into my mouth, rips my shirt in half and uses it to bind my hands behind my back. “Don’t fucking move or I’ll fucking slam into you raw.” Squeezes my cheeks, which are gnawing on the warm and rugged cotton. Tosses my pants over an amplifier and wastes no time to pull his cock out, spitting on it and beating off madly.
—— We move to the bed. I’m on my back, dissociating and blindly following his straining orders. He pulls the socks from out of my mouth and fucks it, which does what it knows best to do all so naturally as if it were made only for that sole purpose. My body flushes up like a moon drifting into the sun. It’s all happening too fast for me to process anything other than the chaotic cables in my brain splitting and jolting bolts of electricity through every corrupted cell inside of me. I exist so that he can sway my hair away from my eyes and rub his pre-cum across my busted lips. I exist so that I can feel his calloused hands forming a garroting mechanism around my neck. This fucking need and craving to suffer and be punished. Others pray for world peace or total extinction. This is the sole blessing that God grants me.
—— Resolve. His hands loosen their grip as he goes to jerk off and gush streams of cum over my face. I lick up whatever I can before he scrapes it from my cheeks and forehead to taste it for himself. Then I’m flipped around and loosened up while my sweat dampens into the sheets. I don’t even get the chance to pull on my dick and fuck with it nor would he let me in the first place. Instead, my erection remains stiff and agitated in the jock while my balls tense up painfully. What I’d do to either have my testicles ripped off right now or to see myself cum. Discipline.
—— My ass squeezes around his prick as he pumps into me. Grunting and flesh slapping. My hands restrained and pulling for release for the sole purpose of pretending that I’m being raped. He pulls on the jockstrap and pounds my pudgy white ass until he can see the tears streaming down my face and into the pillowcase. “Don’t fucking stop,” I cry. He tells me to shut the fuck up. Slaps my ass, slowly pulls himself out and rams it back in. Holds himself up by his toes and fingertips and uses all of his weight to hatefuck me. This would be better if I had another cock to choke on to keep my retarded mouth shut. I can imagine it. Snot drooling down to my upper lip, ears ringing with tinnitus, stomach squirming, and my cock so ready to cum but unable to.
—— “Now sit on it,” he says. Which I didn’t expect, but he’s still hard and the bullet head is purple and throbbing. “Don’t fucking touch yourself. Don’t touch your fucking cock.” He unties my wrists and I see it. The slit seems enraged. But I can tell that he doesn’t enjoy breaking me. After this is over, he’s going to hate himself for it, which will lead from one thing to another, also known as the endless cycle of shame and self-hatred that burns like a virus until suicide or murder becomes the last option.
—— At one point in my life I could never understand why people hated having the lights on during sex, but now I get it, because I can see my sloppy fat flesh bubble jiggling as I ride him. For what it’s worth, he’s just as ugly. The only difference is that his sin comes from the inside. I see it when he shuts his eyes and pierces the front of his bottom lip with his canine teeth. He wants me to be something different, that dead boy perhaps, and he wants it so fucking badly that he’s bleeding for it. As for me, all I want is to become nothing more than this pulse of pleasure where nothing else – no pain or glancing at scars on the wrists or dead best friends or traumatic flashbacks – ceases to exist.
—— Never seen someone so into the act as he is right now. This must be what it’s like to truly connect with somebody you love. Pretty, isn’t it? He sets fire to the end of a blunt and puffs on it, one hand on my side and the other delicately running up my chest. I close my eyes and I’m not ugly anymore. Lean forward and plant a kiss, trade mouthfuls of smoke, and feel him tremor his next load into me.
—— Once it’s over, everything unfolds ever so slowly again. The voices and gnawing sounds from outside. Is it the weather or is it someone preying on me? Talking to myself under my breath while he paces and changes. I let him feel like shit for however long he needs to. I let him lay down behind me on the bed and I listen to him strum chords for an hour until he’s found a somewhat-decent tone to spread out into a two-and-a-half-minute piece of music. My sense of reality muddies into a monochrome world. So what do you see? Three worlds. First world? Past, the car on fire. Second world? Dylan’s simple expression as he searches for the right way to end the song. And the final world? Snow. A world so frigid cold that it feels as if my throat is being cut apart. So you know how it ends.
—— I drown the voices with alcohol and drink myself silly to put me to sleep, but it doesn’t really matter because the nightmares find their way back and antagonize me. I’m trashed and drifting, being swallowed within an ugliness as vile as the basement. The smothering haze begins to form a dream world around me in which I find myself running through the streets as someone chases after me. He has a kitchen knife with my name edged into it. His face is distorted and mutilated just like I’ll be when he catches up to me. Parts of the dream happen too fast for me to process, but the ending is always as clear as light beaming through sheets of ice. We’re in some warehouse and he’s approaching me. Dylan and Gavin are there, both dead, their heads torn off, intestines pulled out, and now it’s my turn to die. The fear paralyzes me. It feels so fucking real when he plunges the knife into me. The pain is still there even as I wake up to examine my stomach and chest. Instead of coming across a gruesome wound I notice three distinct scratch marks on my right side. Mocking of the trinity, as Connor used to say. It seems that I end up as a dead body in almost every dream that I have.
—— “Hey.” This remains to be the sole word that Gavin says when I wake up with a fever and sticky sweat seething from out of my skin. He’s on his side and glaring at me with exhausted bags under his eyes. The voices turn my attention away from him and to them; it seems like they’re coming from out of the air vent. Faggot pig. Can you oink like one better than you can suck cock? That’s all you are. All you’ll ever be. I look down at my hands, but I don’t understand why I have them and if they’re really my hands. Is this really my body? The sharp pain from the nightmare is there. But what if this world is fabricated and the layers of sleep that I continuously die in are what’s real? Hands. Hands. Not my hands.
—— “What do you mean?” he asks, stopping himself midway from taking my arm. “Of course they’re your hands. You want a cigarette? Maybe some breakfast?”
—— “You promised me sex. You thought I’d forget. Well, now I want it.” I’m not sure where those words came from or if it’s even me that said it. How often do I say what I’m thinking out loud without realizing it?
—— “Constantly,” he answers. I stare at his hands as he handles a flashlight. Hands. “You… Don’t worry about it. I couldn’t sleep with you fidgeting like that. It makes me feel like shit because I don’t know what to do. Do I wake you and pull you out of it only to have you scream and attack me or do I let you suffer through it just to see it affect you for the rest of the day?”
—— “But the sex…” Again, not me speaking. Is that even my fucking voice? Fucking pigs voice.
—— “Not yet. After breakfast, maybe. Just try to relax and smoke and think about nothing.”
—— My mind races like a dozen bricks tossed into a washing machine. He leaves to make breakfast and I pace around the mess of guitar strings, half-broken ambient cassettes, dusty imported records and contact mics. Eventually, I put on a pair of briefs and sway myself back and forth on the edge of the bed. I focus on the sound of soft rain that reminds me of Islamic prayers and wind-chimes that allow my mother’s whispering voice to calm me down. I’m gonna take good care of you. Nobody’s ever gonna hurt my baby boy. I love you, I love you, I love you, my sweet Elliott. She sings to me. Yes, I’m fine. Everything’s gonna be fine and she’s gonna take good care of me, someday.
PREORDER/BUY HERE –
p.s. Hey. Today the blog gets to do one of its favorite things and turn itself into a red carpet in abeyance of the world premiere of an exciting new book, in this case the first novel by the daring and maximally gifted young writer (and longtime DC’s d.l.) Damien Ark. Please check out all the related hints and excerpts and exclusive goodies and then usher yourself into the book itself. Thank you for choosing this place as fire entrance, Damien! ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. Very French, no? Oh, thank you a lot for those Sonbert links. I managed to put together a future Sonbert Day this weekend which would not have been possible without that gift from you. And I happened to find your ‘Casanova’ appreciation yesterday on my own, and it’s excellent. Everyone, Mr. Ehrenstein has written an appreciation of Fellini’s odd and underrated film ‘Casanova’ that I highly recommend. Here. ** Sypha, Hi, James. It’s funny: the Cyclopes one seems to have been the most popular around here and yet I wasn’t even seriously considering it. But now I am. Hm. ** Misanthrope, I too love or would at least eat all of them except the Fauchon caviar-filled Buche whose mere existence makes me kind of nauseous. Dizzying is great term for Derek’s novel, yes. That oughta be a blurb. I’m glad your mom thinks I’m swell. I like that word swell. I like what it seems to describe. And good to know your mom might have a heady perv side. ** Bill, Hi, Bill. The love for the cyclops one really surprises me. I almost didn’t put it in the post. I need to re-find my sense of humor as an eater. Yes, all my pals in LA too were rushing around yesterday buying and eating things up. Good luck. Here’s hoping your lockdown is as quick and relatively painless as ours was. ** Derek McCormack, Ah, ha! Suave pick, sir. And I could just take a quick five minute trot from my front door to the Ritz’s and get that little bitch. Hm. ** h (now j), Hi, pal. Good choices. They’re both on my short list. ** _Black_Acrylic, What am I not seeing in the Cyclopes one. I think I’ve lost my mind. I’m going to go do what I always do with the top tier (in my mind) Buches and go look at them in the flesh before deciding. A lot of the best looking Buches photograph very well, but look a little starved in the real. ** Golnoosh, Hi, G. Thanks for your votes! As I keep saying, the Cyclopes Buche’s charms totally escaped me until its local popularity woke me up. I think, at this moment, my top pick and most likely purchase is the La Gazette faux-pottery one you like as well. There’s something so wrong and right about it. But we’ll see. I think that one is going to sell out fast, so I need to decide pronto. ** Steve Erickson, Hm, I don’t know about the YouTube thing. You would think. Well, basically the Bushes tend to be roughly birthday cake size or slightly smaller. The people who disliked ‘Mank’ are being much more convincing than the ones who loved it. I’ve never heard of ‘How to with John Wilson’. I’ll check my listings. Sounds most curious. I’ve never heard of ‘Nathan for You’ either. I literally almost never watch TV. ** Brian O’Connell, Happy Monday, Brian. I too think the Xmas Buche is an art form. High five. And the French do too. Or some of the French. Seeing friends at the current time is akin to being given a rent free apartment in the middle of Disneyland (if you’re me). Nice weekend, iow. ‘Superstar’ is great. It and ‘Velvet Goldmine’ are my favorite Haynes films. I’m not a huge fan. I find his films too stiff and over-thought out in most cases. I like it best when he relaxes and plays around as in the case of the two films I mentioned and ‘I’m Not There’. I greatly dislike every Lars von Trier film starting with ‘Dancer in the Dark’. I think all of his films from then on are an odious combination of arrogant, stupid, and blatantly manipulative to one degree or another, but I’m okay with some of the earlier ones, ‘BtW’ included. Hey, man, I hope your Monday does you proud. ** Armando, Hi, A. I’ve been pretty good, I guess, and you? Happy so many of the Buche’s spoke to your taste buds and, well, your taste in general. Today? The Pinault Foundation, which is this new, big soon-to-open art museum in Paris, wants Zac and me and our friend writer/curator Sabrina to maybe to do a lecture/presentation about haunted house attractions at the museum, and the meeting to discuss that is tomorrow, so today will be taken up by us three figuring out what we want to propose. And your Monday? ** Damien Ark, Hey, D! Happy novel’s DC-related birth day so to speak! Well, if the hate mail is coming even pre-publication, and if it’s based around generalising bullshit like homophobia and antisemitism, it’s not in any way, shape or form about you or your book. It’s just outbursts by ugly, indiscriminating people. So try to be rubber to their glue. Otherwise, publishing intense fiction can get intense reactions, and you should prepare yourself for that and accept that ‘you started it’ as they say. Spoken by someone who has had their share. Try to enjoy your book’s big day around here. ** Right. Your day is squared away and already explained up top. See you tomorrow.