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The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Please welcome to the world … Joshua Dalton I Hate You, Please Read Me (House of Vlad)

 

from the back cover
Joshua Dalton’s provocative debut is a darkly comic collection of fiction and fragments about mental illness, television satire, social media emptiness, workplace trauma, and dating in the age of “why won’t they text me back?” I Hate You, Please Read Me is a bold, sad and LOL funny literary meditation for fans of David Sedaris, Melissa Broder, Rachel Bloom and Samantha Irby.

 

excerpt #1

 

author’s note
Josh / “postitbreakup” here. This is my first published book, comprising eleven short stories, hundreds of tweets, and the pilot script for a half-hour dramedy.

Here’s a picture of me holding it and looking kind of goofy:

The title is a reference to I Hate You—Don’t Leave Me, an outdated nonfiction book about borderline personality disorder (BPD), the condition I’m diagnosed with.

The symptoms of BPD include intense fear of abandonment, extreme mood swings, impulsive / self-destructive behaviors, and feelings of emptiness. (But, basically, it’s like having your emotions magnified 100x.)

 

My goal with this book was to express what having BPD feels like, without being boring or didactic. When I’ve tried writing actual memoir in the past—about my hospitalizations, bad relationships, suicide attempts, whatever—it always feels wrong to me, stilted and dull. I’m much more comfortable, and entertained by, irony and dark humor. That’s a big reason I love Dennis’s writing so much—it’s intensely emotional, but never overly sentimental, and it’s often wickedly funny.

So, that’s what I was going for. Although every story in this book is in some ways about me, none of the events actually happened; and, while all the tweets express real feelings I’ve had, they shouldn’t be taken too literally.

In other words, this is a hopefully-comical book about crippling mental illness, and I hope you enjoy it. <3

 

excerpt #2
(read the full story at Maudlin House)

 

blurbs
“In Joshua Dalton’s winning collection of stories and tweets about feeling like a loser, technology is a weapon of self-destruction, love is the highest form of self-hatred, and mental health is an oxymoron. I Hate You, Please Read Me offers an honest and aching voice, steeped in absurdity. It drew from me loud, painful laughter that scared my dog.”
—JENNIFER WORTMAN, author of This. This. This. Is. Love. Love. Love.

“[I Hate You, Please Read Me] is for anyone who has a reasonless life, but finds enjoyment in their reasonless life.”
—NOAH CICERO, author of Las Vegas Bootlegger: Empire of Self-Importance

“Funny, assaulting, and fluid, I Hate You, Please Read Me is a great book.”
—JOE HALSTEAD, author of West Virginia

“It was raining and I was carrying my cat around in a blanket while looking for an Olive Garden—this was the dream I’d had after being up till 4 a.m. reading Joshua Dalton’s book. Coincidence?”
—BRIAN ALAN ELLIS, author of Bad Poet

“Joshua Dalton elevates cyber spiraling to an art form.”
—BROOKS STERRITT, author of The History of America in My Lifetime

“Joshua Dalton has such a brilliant voice—both despondent and hilarious, cruel and empathetic. These stories are filled with a kind of charming despair that rings so deeply, horribly true. This is a book that walks a fine line between pain and humor, and balances there perfectly. This is one that will stick with you.”
—CATHY ULRICH, author of Ghosts of You

 

memes

 

excerpt #3

 

links
excerpt: “The Showrunner” at PANK
https://pankmagazine.com/piece/the-showrunner/

excerpt: “Pop Quiz Taped to the Door of Your Apartment” at Philosophical Idiot
https://www.philosophicalidiot.com/j-m-dalton-popquiz

review by Charlene Elsby at Entropy
https://entropymag.org/i-hate-you-joshua-dalton/

review (in Italian) by Yuri Rossi at Microcosm https://microcosmoblog.wordpress.com/2020/12/02/joshua-dalton-i-hate-you-please-read-me/

Reading on the Talking Book podcast
Spotify link
https://open.spotify.com/episode/1Gx2gzdwuAoexAJEfIqIks
Stitcher Radio link
https://www.stitcher.com/show/the-talking-book/episode/i-hate-you-please-read-me-with-joshua-dalton-81669698

twitter: @postitbreakup
https://twitter.com/postitbreakup

 

mini-soundtrack

“You Stupid Bitch” by Rachel Bloom

“The Joy in Forgetting – The Joy in Acceptance” by Bright Eyes

“Fuck Was I” by Jenny Owen Youngs

“Cradles” by Sub Urban

“Memory Lane” by Elliott Smith

“Borderline” by Brad Sucks

 

excerpt #4

The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far from the Trauma

Michael, eight years old, knew he was going to die.

Attending his grandma’s funeral had been traumatic enough: the weeping relatives, her pale corpse. But then, only three days later, Dad accidentally backed his truck over Michael’s dog.

Michael’s parents tried comforting him as he cradled Chester’s limp, bloody body. They buried Chester in a flower bed.

“It’s the circle of life,” Dad said. “Like when we go hunting.”

“Like The Lion King,” Mom added.

Michael said, “That doesn’t really help.”

His parents told him not to think about it, but mortality latched onto Michael’s brain like a tick, sucking the liveliness from his mind.

He didn’t tell any of his classmates about his growing despair. He didn’t start cutting himself or wearing all black—not that Mom would have let him anyway—but he did start writing little “cries for help.”

At the bottom of a worksheet about the water cycle, he wrote “WLATWEWBHMLA?” (“Why learn about this when earth won’t be here much longer anyway?”) And on  the back of a Mother’s Day card: “SYMMAYOTLM, DTMYLF?” (“Since you’re my Mom and you’re obligated to love me, doesn’t that make your love fake?”)

At first Michael wrote only in acronyms; he knew that if anyone realized what was in his brain, he would get locked up in a hospital.

Eventually, Michael stopped caring. He gave up on the acronyms and tried to write about himself, but like everything else in his life, the writing soon felt pointless, so he shot himself in the face with his Dad’s rifle, painting his bedroom walls red.

Michael, slumped over like a headless drunk, looked and felt dead.

For months, his parents kept the bedroom sealed like a shrine. They filled the house with air fresheners and binge-watched TV. Eventually, their therapist—and a recovering housing market—encouraged Michael’s parents to move. That meant finally cleaning his old room.

When they opened the door, pinching their nostrils to block out the stench, they found an exceptionally ugly baby. The baby was lying in a pool of coagulated blood. It
had grown from Michael’s corpse.

Mom and Dad assumed they had snapped, that this house had made them crazy. That the baby wasn’t real.

Just to make sure, they put the baby in an Ikea bag and carried it to a nearby gas station. They asked the cashier if he could see the baby. The cashier nodded and suggested they get a carwash. Mom said, “No, no thank you,” and cried tears of joy.

They named the baby Mikey, then moved cross-country to a small town. They never questioned Mikey’s origins; they saw him as a miracle, a second chance, an opportunity to raise their child right.

Mikey, hardly crying and never getting sick, grew to be a toddler. He seemed healthy and happy. After tucking him in at night, Mom and Dad hugged each other in the doorway of his room, congratulating themselves on parenting so well.

One morning, Mikey used alphabet blocks to spell out “IHMAIWTD” (“I hate myself and I want to die.”)

Though Michael had killed himself at eight years old, Mikey made it only to four.

He used a jump rope to hang himself from the swing set in their backyard. There wasn’t any blood—just Mikey twirling in the wind like a zombie tether ball.

The parents, realizing they had somehow ruined another child, locked themselves in their bedroom.

Then they burned the house down.

In the backyard, beneath the swing set’s ashes, Mikey’s limbs stretched tendril-like into roots.

From his stomach, a tree erupted.

And there were all these tiny babies.

They hung from the tree’s limbs like crying apples—all of them screaming.

 

where to buy
from the publisher, House of Vlad Press
https://houseofvlad.bigcartel.com/product/i-hate-you-please-read-me-a-book-by-joshua-dalton

from Amazon (ebook also available)
https://www.amazon.com/dp/1534721355/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_PFMCS2KQPZWRZXNJN9KG

 

actual video footage of my writing process

013_beetlejuiceclip

 

 

*

p.s. Hey. Those amongst you who have been keeping up with this blog and its murdered predecessor for the long term will know Joshua Dalton, albeit perhaps by his DC’s nom de plume Postitbreakup, as he has been a presence on and contributor here for-, gosh, -ever. His first and very long awaited book has just been published, and I’m ultra-happy that he has picked this place as a venue to announce its birth. He’s mega-talented, and I strongly encourage you to investigate said book’s hints and sideshows today and then get your paws or hard drive on the thing itself. Cool. ** Dominik, Howdy, D!!! My favorites? Oh, wow, I’ll have to do a quick scroll through them … hold on … maybe CreamWand, intodicks, YoungforDonation, and uniqueEmoBoyluxury? But I’m like a parent: I love all my children, ha ha. Unless young Bara undressed as a last ditch attempt to offer his killers a bargaining chip? Love as full of wonders as gingertease18’s bed, G. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. Well, then he becomes a Daddy, which is a very popular genre these days for reasons that escape me. ** Bill, They were a bit artsy, weren’t they? Maybe you could make a compelling argument to the gum bunny that his leftism is at odds with his physique? Or convince him to take up chess instead of gym workouts, which would also do the trick? I saw ‘Sator’ listed on an illegal site. Hm, maybe I’ll skim it. ** _Black_Acrylic, Indeed, maestro! Very glad you’re feeling better than you did, and hopefully better still. ** Misanthrope, There have been other escorts trying to milk their delusion that they resemble Chalamet before, but never so amusingly as to be selected by picky me. Yury is obsessed with ‘South Park’, and they show multiple old episodes a day on some channel here, so I peek in sometimes, and it is amazing what animation makes okay. ** G, Hi, G, great to see you! I’m good, thanks. I thought it was a good batch of slaves, it’s true. I’m always making those and the slave posts, so I get confused about who is in which post, but, reading over it, yeah, fairly rich and sterling. Lucky us! Hm, maybe I should just steal that post and publish it as a nail-biting psychological thriller novella? How are you, pal? What’s going on? ** Damien Ark, I have heard and do quite like the new Iceage track, yes. Zac and I have vague, long term thoughts/ dreams/ what-have-you about collaborating with Elias on a film or music video or something. We talked with him about the idea ages ago, and he was into it. Just have to come up with something. Oh, man, take very good care of yourself, sir. That’s, like, almost an order! ** Steve Erickson, I don’t know ‘Lonely’, I don’t think, although if I have heard it, it would have been in a context where it was just a piece of an unattributed muzak playlist. ** Alexandrine Ogundimu, Hi! Well, it’s good that the post occasioned a revelation, right? Fiction fodder maybe? God knows those posts have wound up inspiring things in my stuff for better or provably worse. ** John Newton, Hi, welcome! They were kind of losing it, weren’t they? Thank you very much about my work. How would I email you? Excuse me if the answer is obvious and I’m blanking out. ** Brian O’Connell, Bonjour and -soir and everything in between, Brian! Right, the escorts were the blog’s inadvertent Valentine to you and to all and sundry. I should have worked that angle somehow. Thanks, yeah, I’ve got cool projects galore going on. As usual, it’s a matter of money, ugh, that’s needed to get them all the way done. I would say ‘La Haine’ is not worth checking out, no. If it hadn’t been an assignment, I would turned it off pretty early on. The city! Dreading schoolwork’s return is extremely understandable to me, even if the alternative is doing nothing. My Monday … it was okay. Started to get together a package of stuff about the new film for our producers to send out to potential funding sources as it’s due today. Watched the first part of this 4 1/2 hour doc about 80s horror/slasher films that’s just talking heads and clips, but I like 80s horror/slashers, so that passed the time. Worked on some writing. Blah blah. Tuesday looks like it will be yesterday continued, but you never know, do you? Yours? Are you schoolworking again? If so, anything especially interesting (or extremely not)? If not schoolworking, … ? ** Okay. Please gobble up the bits and pieces of Joshua Dalton’s spanking new book today. Thank you. See you tomorrow.


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17 Comments

  1. Hey Dennis, really cool feature today. Really love excerpt #3 and the title for #2. The mashup of fiction, author commentary and social media interactions is a great idea for formatting a book in this moment. I enjoyed Jarret Kobek’s I hate the internet and Only Americans burn in hell in part because of how he included the internet as this overarching character that binds together ppl who never interact with one another.
    At this time I do not know how to write interesting content about the internet so I have stayed away from it. For my next project I plan on dealing with the internet, ig, Twitter, Reddit, fetlife, porn, tindr, all the time suckers.
    Today is a snow day in mtl as we are expecting over a foot of snow. This means I can use my day to drink coffee and do some writing.
    Hope all is well in la france, take care
    Ps: do you ever ask French ppl what they think of Pepe le Pew? He’s probably the funniest stereotype created by the Disney folks.

  2. David Ehrenstein

    February 16, 2021 at 2:42 pm

    This looks delightful Mr. Dalton. I especially love the imothee Chalamet burn.

  3. Ello Ello Master Cooper!

    I’m very excited to experience this book.

    A lot of fiction I gravitate towards, I feel I need to experience it, rather than reading it, does that make sense ? And have you ever yourself gone through similar dips and swerves, with your interrelationships with literature?

    Also, this is always awkward, I hate the notion of pushing or even enquiring, but gow does one go about getting a WELCOME TO THE WORLD segment on your blog space?

    I have a new book I’ve got completed, entitled TEXTURESs, a collection of collages, images, a 200 page manifesto, with gleaned materials, roars of frustration, autistic episode produced poems and prose pieces- sprinkled throughout, and it is a very irreverent, manic, and as usual autistic experience; all that I have enquired and sent it to, for blurbs, or considerations have been left rather dissatisfied, and rather at a loss to what it is.

    And I like that reaction, but also am left musing, who is this book for, and if not anyone, is it one that is only appealing to my tastes and me?

    Oh, gosh, so I was wondering whether a piece about it would be a good starting block and whether you’d consider it for this blog space?

    Feel free to say, bugger off!

    As usual, much love and respect Dennis,

    Zak

  4. Josh, Congrats. I’ll be buying it. I’m really surprised it took this long for something of yours to get published. I’ve always appreciated your humor. Oh, and as a huge Chalamet fan, I must say that’s it’s time someone else said something about that horrid mustache attempt.

    Dennis, The funny thing about the Chalamet escort, of course, is that he has the “look” in the first pic, and then in the second pic…doesn’t look a thing like him.

    Okay, I’m a have to hang out with Yury someday. I do like South Park and have watched numerous episodes of it, though I can’t say I’m a regular watcher.

    Oh! And an update! Remember that friend of David’s who allegedly fired off a gun at some people but who said he’s innocent and they ain’t got nothin’ on him? Well, he’s been arrested. Facing 50 years. Three counts of attempted second-degree murder, three counts of first-degree assault, three counts of second-degree assault, and one count of reckless endangerment.

    Been having a ton of shootings in my city, some within walking distance. About 10 in the last two months. We might average one or two a year. Peeps have lost their damned minds.

  5. The Black Prince

    February 16, 2021 at 6:21 pm

    Hi DC, yeah, yesterday as I was reading the slave post it did occur to me that The Sluts Vol. 2 could emerge from it. After all, there are still some unsolved mysteries re the Brad saga… Now that you mentioned it yourself, The Sults Vol. 2 (or a similar psychological thriller) would significantly improve things… so, yes, please!

    I also found today’s post fascinating; Joshua Dolton’s book sounds awesome. Some of his descriptions of his BPD resonated with me, so I wonder maybe I need to address this in myself. Anyway, I’m definitely ordering his book as it seems very readable and enticing. I’m also in complete agreement with him re your writing ‘intensely emotional but never overly sentimental, and often wickedly funny’. I trust writers who are also great readers.

    Well, there is something rather sinister going on that I’m currently dealing with, but I’m just trying to take it day by day and distract myself with work, which is promising. A really cool publisher wants to publish my poetry collection early next year, so I’m excited about that, I guess. Other than that, FML. Lovely to hear you’re good, though. Big kiss

  6. Congratulations on the new book, Josh. The excerpts are very intriguing.

    Sator is probably worth a free skim, with popcorn (or whatever your movie-watching snack of choice is!)

    Bill

  7. Hi!!

    Thank you for this post, Dennis and Joshua!

    Can’t argue with the excellence of your taste.

    Haha, I haven’t thought about this possibility! Poor Bara – one would think they should’ve given him a chance after such a proposal…

    That’s a rich love for sure! Love staying at the Cecil Hotel, shooting yet another uninspired “haunted” YouTube video after watching Netflix’s new documentary about Elisa Lam, Od.

  8. Congrats on your book Joshua. Humour is like the no 1 weapon against adversity and it’s always great to see someone fighting fire with fire.
    Dennis have you heard of the lit site miserytourism? I have my first hosted short story there and what was so fun about this is that I got to doodle a selfportrait for an author pic and also create a sort of illustration for the story – so much fun.
    http://www.miserytourism.com/burning-up/

    Also excited that another older story of mine looks set to be in a new issue of SCAB. The 6pm curfew in Paris is that still on? Boggles the mind.

  9. Thank you so much everyone for the kindness/encouragement! I’m in a blackout from the winter storm with limited battery so I can’t write long, but the comments on this post are, to be a little cheesy, warming my heart.

    And thanks again Dennis for hosting!!

    💜💜💜

    • congrats, josh. i’ve admired your prose…and your ‘voice’…since the days of your essay for an anthology i edited a few years back; i followed your twitter postings for a spell. about these excerpts: i laughed out loud. the husband reminds me i never laugh out loud when reading or streaming, except at pie fights. i enjoyed the reading, too. stay warm!

  10. Dean’s List: Thank you and Joshua for this! Love the arch post-irony of the non-autobiographical confessional. I laffed in double-digits. BTW: That song from Crazy Ex Girlfriend — as with hundreds from that series — is by certifiable genius Adam Schlesinger, who, you know, was also behind power-pop greats Fountains of Wayne, Tinted Windows, wrote That Thing You Do, the Crybaby musical etc. He died of Covid last April. And now I will have a sad….

  11. Hey Dennis,

    I’m getting thorough things. Feeling good about my choice to be born in California today as the rest of the country freezes to death. Still hoping to get the vax sooner than most because of my general ill health. Maybe March?

    Making lots of art. It’s all I’ve got.

    Let me know what you think of Lingua Ignota. It’s a lot to handle, but a perfect amount for you I think.

    I saw you and Jack Skelley talking about Bronson Cave. I love walking up there. It is somewhat disappointing in person but I feel that’s a quintessential Los Angeles experience, being less good in person. And I like texting a friend I’m going to walk with and say “To the Batcave!” It’s the little things.

  12. @Josh–This sounds really exciting. I’ve ordered a copy for my Kindle. I hope your power comes back on soon! “Mental health is an oxymoron” is a sentiment that feels increasingly true.

    Lingua Ignota’s cover of Eminem’s “Kim” might be a good place to start. It’s quite disturbing, but actually more listenable than the original. And it’s not exactly the obvious feminist reclamation you might expect; when she sings Eminem’s lyrics about murdering women, they seem to double back against herself as an expression of shame and self-hatred. The opera/black metal band Foltekammer are a somewhat similar project.

    I was glad to find a download of Coil’s 2-CD collection of remixes while surfing MP3 blogs. Apart from their NIN remixes, most of those are now unavailable. As an album, the tone changes wildly, going from a slightly darker version of a Depeche Mode song to glitchy dark ambient music.

    I think I’m on target to interview TEENAGE EMOTIONS director Frederic Da later this year, so that seems all good.

  13. Josh – Congrats on the book! It looks great. I love how you’ve arranged the post with the excerpts and inspirations. I’m looking forward to picking up a copy.

    Dennis – Been out of town a lot lately and just now catching up on the posts here. It was especially great to read the Errol Morris post. Have you seen his multi-part “Wormwood”? Not sure if it’s available outside of Netflix in the U.S. It’s one of my favorite things he’s done and feels like something of a summation of many of his themes and techniques.

    Recently been reading Peter Handke’s “Repetition,” which was one of WG Sebald’s all-time fave books. He wrote an essay about how it inspired his own work and that’s what led me to pick it up. I’ve always been wary about Handke’s later work (this is from 1985, so it’s not that late) though I’ve been really enjoying it so far. And I can absolutely see how it’s a template for Sebald’s fiction. Have you read it? I can’t recall — are you a Handke fan at all?

    Things here seem to be finally settling down, if not improving. Hope you’re doing well.

  14. Brian O’Connell

    February 17, 2021 at 6:28 am

    Evening, Dennis,

    “A darkly comic collection of fiction and fragments about mental illness, television satire, social media emptiness, workplace trauma, and dating” sounds like exactly the book the world needs right now. The fragments are great, and (like Mr. Ehrenstein) I too approve of the Chalamet burn. I will definitely check this out. Thank you for sharing, and many congratulations to Mr. Dalton.

    I share your disdain for matters of money. Oh well, what can you do? Best of luck with the fundraising. Ah, okay, I’ll keep that in mind about “La Haine” then. Sounds like your Monday was mostly work, which is a drag, unless you enjoy it, but in any case it at least seems productive, which is something. Slasher doc, cool. I need to see more slasher movies. I’ve only seen some very basic ones (“A Nightmare on Elm Street” and “Black Christmas” are the only ones that come to mind), which I liked, but I need to do a deeper dive. Any highlights I should be sure not to miss?

    My Tuesday was fine. I woke up in a bad mood, since last night, because I accidentally triggered some totally arbitrary technicality (not even a particularly interesting one), Twitter automatically suspended my account indefinitely, and I’ll probably never get it back. Which was upsetting, because the unfortunate truth of the situation is that at this point most of my social life is occurring on Twitter—in a sense realizing that was way way more sad than losing the account—and now I’ll have to start from scratch. (Or, I really should just have taken this opportunity to quit for good, but what can I say, I’m an addict, and since I can’t really talk to anyone during the day, it’s the outlet I need for the time being.) Anyway it was shitty and frustrating, so it was a bad start to the week. But my coursework is light, so that’s nice. Anything interesting? I don’t know. I had to watch “On the Waterfront” tonight for class, which I really didn’t connect with, but I wasn’t really in the right headspace for it. I thought Brando was good at least. Read more of the Shirley Jackson novel, which I’ve told you I think is pretty great, of course. And tomorrow I’ll have to watch a Fritz Lang film, and maybe in the evening I’ll get to see a few friends in person, yay. For now I’m off to bed, and I think maybe before I sleep I’ll finally start reading “Eustace Chisholm”. That’s it. Your Tuesday? Good? Bad? Indifferent? In whatever eventuality, may your Wednesday be a bajillion times better.

  15. Thanks Dennis my email is JRN158(at)gmail.com

    Also thank you for introducing me to Joshua Dalton and his work.

  16. Dennis! Tchootchoooo! The wolfers express has entered the station, all aboard! May I see your tickets please sir? Thank you, have a pleasant journey.
    Josh! Massive tail-wagging congratulations! This looks so good. The Tree of Death excerpt is absolutely brilliant. It’s really quite impressive that you’ve managed to write in such a way about living with a debilitating illness – first that you could write this and then actually be able to look at it and judge it. I hope you get some satisfaction out of at least the existence of something great that you’ve created, and that it can give you some comfort when you’re feeling at your lowest. I agree that dark humour is really the best cure at times; realising how absurd that whole life thing is does help I think. It’s a pretty zen response. Speaking of absurd though, Christ on a cracker, that Chalamet ’stache is horrifying. I always find his face insufferable, which I realise is a controversial enough opinion to get me fired from the internet altogether, but this picture… it will haunt my nightmares.

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