The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Please welcome to the world … Josiah Morgan The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Amphetamine Sulphate)

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Other work by Josiah Morgan

I’ve been working on this novel for the duration of my entire publication record thus far. I think it is the best thing I have ever written. A poem, a shot-for-shot adaptation of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, a short story collection, a non-fiction record of Tobe Hooper’s career in retrospect, a eulogy for the great Simon Morris. It is all of and none of these things.

It’s a book about the politics of violence.







I would ask you to introduce yourself all regular-like, but instead, tell me, in your own words—who are you?
I am not at all the person I write as if I am. I am twenty one. I feel that to others I must be cold, analytical, austere, hard to reach. This almost universally seems not to be the case. I follow my gut, I trust impulse, probably due to my background in theater; following impulse has led me to a fruitful but challenging job in the disability sector supporting people whom society labels ‘intellectually disabled’ to create artistic output. I am a cynic. I am an optimist. I think that language naturally only rarely can represent people. I believe that it is possible to literally change your identity through words.

Why do you write? There’s a dozen other things you could have done. Why… write? Was there something you saw or heard that made you decide you should start writing?
I fall back on William H. Gass here with his iconic “I write because I hate a lot. Hard.,” even if it doesn’t entirely fit the bill. I do a dozen other things! I view myself primarily as a theater-maker, not a writer, although I’ve been writing as long as I can remember. There’s always been an element of hubris or perhaps even some impulsive desire for validation through (re)presentation in me. But it was my first experience with Joyce’s Ulysses that finally forced me to write seriously. It was impossible reading that book not to pick up a pen and try to accomplish something with words; it was so clearly possible. Reading Dennis Cooper’s Closer was a landmark moment in finding a mechanistic understanding of language. These days, I write well when I’m reading anything by New Juche, and I write poorly when I’m reading anybody else.

There are actually a whole series of short poems scrawled on the inside of my copy of Mountainhead (New Juche, Nine Banded Books). “Outside the limit of my mouth / are things I’ve sworn / not said.” I doubt I’ll ever publish anything because they’re really just rough drafts, nevertheless New Juche helps me access something I often can’t even begin to approach. He’s a modern-day Montaigne.

Mountainhead really is something else. Okay! Let’s talk about your book. There’s a lot happening. It’s autobiographical… there’s analysis-lite reviews of different Hooper films… you say you have been writing this for as long as you have been writing… there’s what reads like a live-tweet of someone watching The Texas Chain Saw Massacre maybe for the nth time… and then there’s lists of receipts. There’s also meeting with people for sex.
Well, those are the things that were going on in my life at the time.

The book is autobiographical but not autobiography. Maybe it’s a horror novel? I don’t think so, but maybe. When pressed, I guess I’d say it’s a prose-poetry hybrid book about the intersection of my real experiences and the way I experience fiction. It is also a book about the way that fiction constructs the way we experience the real. And it is also a book about the way that the real constructs the ways that we interact with fiction. I hope that the book is easier to read than it is to talk about. I’ve struggled to talk about the book with everybody, including the publisher in some instances.

I like that each section has its own font and layout.
Me too! The idea with this was really to communicate something of the way the book was constructed.… or perhaps to lie or at least mislead the reader about the way that the book was constructed.

This is equivalent in some ways to my first Amphetamine Sulphate book, Inside the Castle, which includes an appendix. I’m not really sure that the appendix is very helpful (it’s filled to the brim with practical jokes and lessons in perversity), but it also is very much a genuine and living record of the very real things that were going on in relation to the construction of that book. I realize that this may frustrate more than illuminate the work for some people. Anyway, all I’m saying is that the text – including the formatting – in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is designed to lead the reader in a particular direction that may or may not align with the threads I was following as I was constructing the work.

I think this sort of context is very important. For instance, in the section of the book that is essentially a shot-for-shot recounting of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, I became fascinated with the detached style. It reminded me a lot of Hunchback ’88 by Christopher Norris and a specific section of John Trefry’s upcoming Massive. It’s like artificial intelligence that’s been put through 100,000 hours of horror films and the final proof-of-concept is to provide a sentence-per-shot retelling of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Tell me about this process.
Cool, I’m really pleased to hear that you describe it like that! I’ve never read Hunchback 88, and only a few sections of Massive so far (which is fantastic), but I trust John Trefry with the future of literature (even if he’s constantly obscenely humble about the whole thing) so it’s cool to hear it compared to that in whatever regard.

The process was extremely hard. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is a film that oscillates between extremely languid imagery and extremely fast-cuts, which meant that at times two minutes of film would translate to ten seconds of writing time, and at other times two minutes of film translated to hours. So there was no consistency on that front. The real challenge was finding a unifying aesthetic principle, e.g. “what was the underlying intent of the section.” I’m glad that it felt like it was generated by an artificial intelligence for you; it was not always this way. The first draft of the book instead framed the shot-for-shot Texas Chain Saw Massacre adaptation as a narrative about a young couple watching the film together inside a cinema, having a sexual encounter in the cinema, and then breaking up in the cinema. All of that is still there, in one way or another, but in a more sublimated fashion. I don’t think that any reader coming to the text fresh e.g. without reading this interview would reach that conclusion. All of which is to say that my initial intent was to capture something of the experience of watching the movie through the narrative framework of ‘character.’ That intent ultimately changed: I wanted to capture something of the movie itself, almost independently of how it’s perceived. I am really keen to hear what people think of this, whether positive or negative. I think that my very best work to date is probably the final short story section of the book, with all the disaffected teenagers looking in the mirror, arbitrarily related/relating to each other. But that central portion of the text I am also extremely proud of. Once I got into the swing of how to do what I wanted, it felt like something demonic and/or cathartic was taking – had taken – hold.

I agree with you. I think the last bit is certainly the best writing you’ve done. At least, that’s what I was thinking when I was reading that section. Now, there’s movies in the book that you list, and then don’t talk about.
Yeah. Some of Hooper’s work isn’t in contention, or difficult to come by (so I haven’t seen), or just not very interesting to me. I didn’t want to write about things that didn’t interest me (because I assumed that they then therefore would not interest the audience), but I also didn’t want to omit those works from the overall structural scheme of the work, as the entire book – at least in this final form – rests on the presence of a skeletal framework which is the filmography of this great director.

That’s sort of unique. Including what could have been omitted, easily. The original title was HEAD CHEESE, right? Please explain this.
The original title of this book was actually Sola Virgo, which has many connotations. For one, the word sola is a defaced solar, which in turn has an association with the sky and astrology. Astrology is an ever-present force in Tobe Hooper’s film The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. I also like the word sola because it evokes the word sole. There’s a word in Māori tūrangawaewae which roughly translates to “a place to stand” – you could say, Mike, that you and I have ‘a place to stand’ in the indie press writing scene. Virgo is another reference to astrology, but the word also conjures up the idea of virginity. Given that the central textual element of this book is a shot-for-shot adaptation of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, the idea of virginity has a coherent and totemic significance, as virginity in the slasher genre is something that traditionally designates safety and often defines the role of ‘the final girl.’

Around twelve months ago, Philip Best from Amphetamine Sulphate and I agreed to change the title to Head Cheese because Sola Virgo was too obscure – it took that much explaining! Tobe Hooper and Kim Henkel had initially drafted The Texas Chain Saw Massacre screenplay under the title Head Cheese. Head cheese refers to an edible product made with flesh from the head of a pig boiled down into a kind of jelly. I like it in relation to this book because so much of the text deals with an autofictive impulse to self-destruct. It’s like the flesh of my head is being boiled down into a kind of jelly, a jelly of words, to be eaten by the reader.

Wow. Yeah. I think moving away from Sola Virgo was the right thing to do. At the same time, your explanation is wonderful and I am glad it’s become a part of the history of the text. Why the switch to THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, then?
The title Head Cheese was a hard sell, for obvious reasons – it just sounds a bit naff – hence the title change to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The title is now very simple and to the point; it also promises that the text will get to dealing with the titular massacre, even if it takes a long time to get there. I also like the final title because it means my book has undergone the same retitling process as Hooper’s original. Although I should note that my book is called The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, whereas Hooper’s film breaks apart the conjugal chainsaw and instead is titled Chain Saw. There’s a lot of debate about why he did this, whether it was just a mistake, but I like the idea that the disambiguated word Saw in that context has connotations with seeing. My book is not a film, so Chainsaw it is.

I really like that it is Chain Saw. It makes me think of Inglourious Basterds. Spelling things wrong on purpose. Have you seen every single Texas Chain Saw Massacre?
Yes. I like the first two Tobe Hooper ones. I like the Marcus Nispel remake somewhat too. The rest are terrible.

Have you seen every single Texas Chainsaw Massacre?
Yes. I like the first two Tobe Hooper ones. I like the Marcus Nispel remake somewhat too. The rest are terrible.

Is The Texas Chain Saw Massacre the best horror film ever made?

Can you talk a little bit about why you think Tobe Hooper is so great?
With the exception of his breakthrough, he was constantly embattled by the most extreme possible artistic circumstances. Almost unanimously across his career producers had him removed from projects partway through filming, or refused him final edit, or forced him to make drastic changes, or critics accused him of being shadow-directed by Steven Spielberg, so on and so on. The key to what makes him so great is the fact that despite all of this, he has a unified aesthetic presence, style, there is an overt Hooper-ness to his work (whether this is a good or bad quality is beside the point, the fact that the quality is there is a sign of greatness) even those that are most compromised.

This is what I like, your sort of behind-the-scenes knowledge on what makes something great. Let’s move away from The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. What are some really excellent films you’ve seen… say, in the last five years?
There are too many to name, but there are a few that stand out. My favorite film of 2021 was Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s extraordinary Memoria. Orson Welles’ posthumous The Other Side of the Wind is a knockout. The 2017 Shudder original slasher Revenge is a great, gnarly take on the genre. I recently discovered Caveh Zahedi’s phenomenal The Show About The Show, all of which can be viewed for free on YouTube. These are all fairly new releases. The most interesting older films I’ve discovered must be Frederick Wiseman’s High School and Near Death, Peter Greenaway’s The Falls (you would like this one, Mike, and any readers of your books would too), and Abel Gance’s Blind Venus.

Is this the sort of text that’s written for people who are really into film, with tons of jargon and hyper-specific industry speak?
I don’t think so. It’s a tough sell as a book regardless of the background you’re coming from because it’s so dissonant and composited, but I don’t think any of the book is jargonated. It’s certainly not academic. The book is much more freeform and personal than critical.

I’m still waiting to see Memoria… waiting for the right time (i.e. my mind and body have to be in sync, and ready for the experience. Movie-watching, for me, is an active thing). Sort of an obvious question, maybe. For me, it didn’t feel this way, but: is The Texas Chainsaw Massacre the sort of text that’s written for people who are really into film, with tons of jargon and hyper-specific industry speak?
I don’t think so. It’s a tough sell as a book regardless of the background you’re coming from because it’s so dissonant and composited, but I don’t think any of the book is jargonated. It’s certainly not academic. The book is much more freeform and personal than critical.

Tell us more about your film writing, and by this, I mean your film reviews—you sort of have a following on the website Letterboxd, no? Do people know this about you or am I the only one who ever brings it up?
I have a good following on the film review site Letterboxd, sure. I’ve always approached film writing as a way of learning about film – and about my thoughts on film. I’ve stirred up a lot of controversy on that site over the years for having off-the-wall opinions but have never really paid much attention to it. I love the website though. It has a great interface and whilst the community has grown in recent years, there are many core users who really know their stuff about a really wide range of often obscure work.

What’s more important to you in terms of form? The film format or the play/ opera/ theatre/stage production?
This question is a nightmare. I prefer good theatre to good film. There’s less good theatre than good film. I’ve probably seen over 2500 movies that I like, whereas I can count the plays I’ve seen that I think were really truly great on two hands.

You said you’re going to be taking a break from writing for a bit after this book. Why?
Oh man, I’m so burned out. Pandemic fatigue is getting to me. I’m young, twenty-one, and have spent most of my youth depressed or acting or chasing after some artistic career aspiration. I have a job now which takes up a lot of time. I just want to spend some time taking stock of where I’m at. With all that taken into account, writing was so hard for the last twelve months or so. I went through a really tough period and was given a soft diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder about a really major thing I went through last year. It was impossible to put anything on the page.

When I chose to take a break from writing for a bit, I found I was writing more freely.

Maybe what I’m actually doing is taking a break from publishing, from having my work seen.

In the numerous conversations we’ve had, I get the impression that your mind operates at a speed of one million miles per second. Would you say this is a fair assessment?
…yes! 🙂

I get what you mean when you say, “…taking a break from publishing.” I still want you to describe the current indie lit scene. What have you seen? What are you seeing? (Please don’t hold back.)
The current independent literature scene is full of some of the most startlingly good books I’ve ever read, and some of the worst. We live in a splintered artistic culture at the moment where everything is demanding all our attention all the time. For example, I saw the movie Licorice Pizza recently and loved it; twenty years ago it would have become an instant classic. I fear that despite being a really widely seen and loved movie with an Oscar nomination and all that, it’ll fade into obscurity in a few years because the sheer volume of product coming from the streaming industry removes any idea of artistic longevity.

I think that the small-scale publishing scene can be similar. There is a constant demand for your attention to be everywhere, now. I find it too easy to disengage from a bunch of really interesting publishers, mostly because the sheer quantity of really great work being put out is nearly impossible to navigate.

It’s more possible now to be published than maybe it ever was in the past, I think my work speaks to that. Ten years ago what I’m writing would have been unpublishable, certainly this book would have been, for all kinds of reasons. I hope that my work is good and that people like it, but that’s never guaranteed; there are many books that I struggle with in the current scene. I love 11:11 Press (Evan Isoline’s Philosophy of the Sky is an instant classic) and Jake Reber seems like a lovely guy, but his book Zer000 Excess just didn’t cut it for me.

In short, I think we live in a very fractious and splintered time for all art forms including literature. There is a lot of competition. It is really hard to keep up. Sometimes it feels nicer to retreat back to Joyce & Woolf & Melville & the Bront  sisters. But this scene is worth investing in, because there are so many brilliant books coming out, your own included.

You said this yourself, you’re a young writer, yet, you seem so sure of yourself: how you talk about your writing and the subjects you decide to write about. You also speak in absolutes. I think we had a conversation about this. You are always talking about the best version of something… is that right? Am I remembering this correctly?
Yeah! I like absolutes because they give conversations something to hang onto. If I say ‘The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is the greatest horror film of all time,’ that gives us something quantifiable – something we can argue about. If I just say ‘I like The Texas Chain Saw Massacre a lot,’ there’s nowhere for us to go from there. I think argument – or discussion, to use a more mild word – is the most productive way to generate new ideas about art and the best way to truly understand what’s going on with any given work. I recognise that all art is subjective but I think there are real, quantifiable things going on in texts. It may not be possible for all of us to agree that The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is the greatest horror film of all time, or even whether it’s good or not; it should be possible for us to agree that the film uses a fractious editing style to convey a particular frame of mind, and it should be possible for us to agree that that frame of mind has a lot to do with the transformation of humans into meat to be churned up and eaten by the industrial machine that is capitalism. It is of course about all sorts of other things too.

I appreciate that there’s someone else out there who is willing to argue because it is something that can be (and totally is) productive. I love to agree to disagree and the problem is that to someone who doesn’t understand what is really happening, they take it personally. I can only truly argue with someone who knows that we are arguing because it’s not about emotion. It’s about gaining something from each other that otherwise would not be possible. Here’s a segue… is Twitter as horrible as everyone pretends it is? I feel it’s the platform you use the most to talk about writing and everything else.
I love Twitter but I try to just stay out of all that!

So, do you consider yourself a writer? Or do you see yourself as more of a multi-disciplinary artist of sorts? Or do the labels not matter?
I don’t really think of myself as anything. I think of myself as Josiah, and often I just try to get through the day – today I’m a disability worker going to a rehearsal in the evening. Tomorrow I’m a disability worker going to teach theatre in the evening. The day after that I might write for four hours before going to my day job. It changes all the time. If I had to put a label on it, I guess I’m a multi-disciplinary artist. The unifying thread between all of my work is that I’m interested in structure, and I’m interested in the boundary between non-fiction and fiction. I don’t really believe in realism as a construct and therefore I don’t think it’s even possible to write about one’s own experience. My work is often largely about the ways that we contort language to fit who we think we are, or the ways we contort who we are to fit what language seems to tell us is possible.

Believe it or not, there’s still a ton of excellent writers who simply stick to writing short stories and posting these digitally via digital lit mags. I’ve always been very vocal about the physical format and how anyone who really wants to write should try and finish a long-form project that will then become a physical object. How do you feel about this? Should more people be focusing on the “book” as physical object or am I just too old-fashioned and need to shut the fuck up?
I like old fashioned! I think the main advantage of the process you articulate is that it means writers need to be thinking about the entire product, including the look, weight, feel, the speed of reading a page, the time it takes to navigate the odd blank page, things like that.

Plus, I’m a very analogue person myself. I just find it hard to process information when I read it on a screen. So I prefer the physical object on that level, too.

How involved are you with the design of your book covers? Or even the interior layout? I’m always fascinated by the involvement of an author in this regard.
On both Inside the Castle and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Philip and Sarah Best designed the covers, and I handled the interior layout. I did all of the interior of Texas Chainsaw Massacre myself, whilst Philip Best and Simon Morris helped out with some of the final stages of Inside the Castle.

My other two books, Circles and Road were entirely designed by their publishers (Evan from Selffuck and Evan from Feral Dove respectively). Road in particular is undergoing some really significant changes in response to feedback from Evan which has been welcome and very different to my other three books. I’ll come back to that in response to a later question.

How do you write? Do you do outlines? Do you watch films and grab moments from each that stick with you? Is it in spurts?
It changes, but is mostly in spurts. I often can’t write for more than a thousand words at a time. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre was mostly written in fifteen-minute increments whilst on breaks at a laser tag venue I used to work at. The central bit of the text, though, the shot-for-shot Texas Chain Saw Massacre adaptation was written over a pretty much full-time week or two in late 2019, and I wrote very much in direct conversation with images from the film.

What’s your style?
I don’t think I’m the best person to answer that. Mike, what’s my style?

Honestly? I am not entirely sure yet. You’re still in that moment where you haven’t released enough yet, for me to really know what your style is. And in answering your question, I am now groaning at the term itself: style. Whatever that even means. I guess, if we focus on just The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, I think you definitely have a, I-love-to-write-about-film, side to you, of course. You inject all of this into this text (quite wonderfully, I might add) and then you also have this poeticprose style, where you write what I would classify as long-form poetry—and I know fuck all about poetry… it’s abstract, yet still grounded. You leave little signposts that may mean different things to different people… but they’re still there. You have an awareness, yet, because of how you write, those two elements don’t always mesh. I feel like you leave in more than you cut out, maybe. You may even believe that if an idea was good enough to manifest itself from thin air, and you took the time to write it down, it’s going to make it to the final draft. I wouldn’t say that there is a “shock” element to your work either, as I don’t think you are intentionally trying to write something in a certain way that is meant to shock anyone, but I think your ability to write where we know exactly (or maybe, close to) how you are feeling, in-the-moment, sort of creates this closeness and conjures a sense of immediacy that (almost) never lets up. Maybe that’s the wrong word. You’re pulling back the veil. Like if someone visits and you say, “Make yourself at home,” you really mean that. I would also add that we have very different writing styles, and I think we are two very different individuals, yet, when I think back on all of our conversations there’s always moments where I feel I can say something in an abbreviated manner, that you will understand immediately, and I don’t have to explain it like I would, normally. So, for me, it’s more about the activity of attempting to decipher your work as a writer, even tho I also know you as a person and I also know you as a film writer. Big picture? I think you blend all of these things, very well. But your style? I still don’t know what that is. Do you even want a style?
I greatly appreciate this answer, thanks Mike. I’m not entirely sure whether I ‘want’ a style or how, really, to navigate the development of that. It is definitely true that I am an additive rather than subtractive writer (this clearly sets you and I apart in some ways), but I am trying quite hard at the moment to refine what makes it into my writing and how it comes out. Part of the ‘additive’ nature of my writing is that I don’t really view work as ever ‘finished’,’ just ‘stopped.’ This is particularly relevant to my forthcoming Feral Dove book, Road, which I intend to continue developing over the following… years? decades? hopefully in such a way that becomes more unified than the text it currently is. I am conscious I have been lucky so far. I do not intend to publish anything lengthy for a long time

Tell us about Amphetamine Sulphate. This is your second release with the press! It’s always great to see continued collaboration between writers and presses. What made you come back?
I came back because the freedom Amphetamine Sulphate give you is amazing – Philip (and at one point Simon) allow you to write in effect whatever you want, but will very openly and sometimes even near-callously tell you when something isn’t working, or doesn’t register, or is embarrassing. Plus, they’re funny, they publish great books, I just enjoy their work – the best reason to come back! I have loved watching your relationship with Inside the Castle develop over time, too. What made you come back there?

Literally everything you mention RE: Amphetamine Sulphate, I have experienced with Inside the Castle. I discovered the press via Mike Kitchell, and then I followed them for a year or two (as I usually do with new presses; scoping out affiliations and current/future releases). Then I found out about the Castle Freak Remote Residency for Generative Digital Composition. This is how I wrote my text on the Zodiac Killer, Lonely Men Club. (Jarett Kobek just released a text in two parts, about the Zodiac Killer, by the way. I think he’s actually solved the case! He appeared on The B.E.E Podcast on 2/22/22, to talk about the books. Anyway.) I drove to Des Moines, IA and met with John for the first time. We spent the day walking around the downtown area, looking at buildings and talking about the materials and effort it takes to make buildings… (John is an architect). We talked about the indie lit scene and specific writers as well as future plans for the press as well as my writing. I also drove to Lawrence, KS after that, and read at two different events. I feel like knowing that I like the person who is running the press, and also being able to participate in real-life events that have to do with writing… these are things that are super-important to me, that I wish all indie presses would/could do. For the same reason, I love working with We Heard You Like Books and on a micro-press scale, Selffuck is really where it’s at. is another one, too. All the presses I work with, I choose to work with them for a reason.

Are there other presses you really admire or wish more people knew about?
I think that the two best presses in the game are Inside the Castle and Amphetamine Sulphate. Carrie Lorig’s The Blood Barn is probably my favorite book of the 21st century. Infinity Land Press do gorgeous coffee-table-like editions of the most sleazy, esoteric work you can think of, so I have a soft spot for them too. I really wish more people engaged with Schism press. Locally, New Zealand publisher Huia Books do some amazing work. New Zealand writer essa may ranapiri has self-published a few physical book objects which are incredible. If you had to check out one writer I’ve mentioned today, I’d check out essa.

Schism Press. Why do you say more people should engage?
Firstly because Gary J. Shipley is awesome, but largely because Schism don’t appear (at least to me) to have the same online or hyper-active twitter presence as e.g. Amphetamine Sulphate or Inside the Castle or even somewhere like Expat Literary Journal do.

Okay, enough about writing and the indie lit scene! Images. Let’s talk about images, now! I feel mood boards are super important and I wish more people who use them would share them alongside their projects. It’s like a special features on a DVD-type situation. To me, it provides a sort of context I find very useful. Tell us a bit about the set of images you’ve presented.
Perhaps first and most obviously, many of the presented images come from Tobe Hooper’s filmography. His career charts a stunning trajectory of both ‘high’ and ‘low’ art images which I think is well-captured here. But, in particular, I wanted to highlight how Tobe Hooper’s work plays with and can be responsive to other images. It is notable that in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Stretch and Leatherface connect in some way through the phallic symbol of the chainsaw. This is why I have used the image of Sally’s wide eyes at the moment of peak-horror in the first film to respond to Mapplethorpe’s famous Champagne image (which also happens to be one of my perhaps top three Mapplethorpe pieces). Broadly speaking, the mood board is really quite brief. I wanted to highlight the division between real and false, the fictive-non-fictive discussion that my book is having. The boy pictured in the slut t-shirt features in two non-pornographic sexual videos that used to circle the internet and can still be found if you look carefully. I can’t remember where I came across the videos, but I always found something so fascinating in the ‘performance’ of his slut-identity in those videos. There is something heartbreakingly abusive about the particular connotations of the way he performs in those videos and the fact that he’s disambiguated from any artistic or historical context, instead often circulated in the region of pornography is really interesting to me. I hope he reads Dennis Cooper Blog, because I would love to talk with him some time. More broadly, I wanted to capture a sense of the mundanity of labor and of repetition (hence the wordle screenshot) and the line between genuine concern and faux concern in news articles and the maybe-false image of the ghost. The other preoccupation of the book – and a growing preoccupation and interest for me – is the meeting point between labor and art, and the ways that the way work inevitably exploits the individual can in turn be exploited for the betterment of the art.

Fascinating. Is there a particular type of person this book is not for?
My grandmother.

Okay, but let me go on further. You provide a ton of context, in the way or manner in which you talk about film. For example, you literally cite different Hooper films (with the release dates and everything) and then delve deep into a sort of analysis. I’m going to invoke Letterboxd again. These sections I mention, that happen in the book, are the closest we come to what I like to call, your “Letterboxd musings”. The way you talk about each film is almost alienating, in the sense that for someone who is not really into film, a lot of it might not make sense to them. Would you argue that, to a certain degree, this book is also for people who just really like to read about film and film theory? Or am I completely off-base? Again, I am going back to that earlier question and basically asking, “What about the people who watch movies but aren’t into film? Will this book mean anything to them?”
Okay, I see. I want to attack this in multiple ways. It is definitely the case that somebody interested in film generally will get more out of the work than people who are not interested in film. But on the flip side, I am not sure that criticism needs to make sense to those who are not into film. It is my hope that any of the critical work taking place in the book encourages people to be interested enough to make sense of it. Whether I have accomplished this or not is really not my position to judge, but I certainly hope the book inspires interest in film for those who are not already there.

But there is a lot more to the book than that.

In the original pitch to Amphetamine Sulphate, I envisioned a perfect-bound and finished book called Sola Virgo which was, for the most part, earlier versions of everything in the current finished version, except for the film review elements. The first 50-100 orders of the book would include a separate chapbook titled Love Limbs or something similar, which would be all of the critical elements of the text.

So I think there’s a lot going on beyond the film theory component. I acknowledge that a significant chunk (maybe even a third) of the book is non fiction film analysis. But the rest was at least originally envisioned to stand on its own. I think that the components of the text are now fairly homogeneous and the final form of the book is the right form for it to take. All of which is to say that in my view the book will mean different things to different readers ideally at least partially independently of the film reviews themselves. Does that make any form of sense?

It does, actually. I want to discuss something akin to your wonderful relationship with Philip (and Simon). I think, something that comes from the “old days”… is the idea of a mentor. Do you have someone like this?
If it were anybody, it would be Simon Morris, who passed in late 2019. Otherwise, I’m not sure this applies to me – I talk to Josh Peterson a lot.

I am sorry to hear that. This brings me to a point, tho. On pages 153 and 156, it reads, “SIMON MORRIS IS DEAD SIMON,” and then on pages 154 and 157, “SIMON MORRIS IS DEAD.”
Yes. Simon Morris’ books under Amphetamine Sulphate are these almost Oulipian books that use Lana Del Rey albums and Guns ‘n’ Roses albums as unifying structural conceits. The impulse to use the career of Tobe Hooper as a structural conceit to unify disparate strands from one period of my life into a complete text was directly inspired by Simon’s work. When he died, I stopped writing mid-sentence, at precisely the moment those pages interrupt the text in the finished version. It took me a month, maybe two months, to come back to the text and be ready to finish again after his death.

Okay. This made me think of something. I’ve been asking this for a little while now—please feel free to ignore the question if you don’t like it: but, what is transgressive fiction?
I think that all categorisations are largely arbitrary, in large part because categories define in-groups and out-groups. My understanding of ‘transgressive fiction’ has always been nebulous at best, and yet… it seems to me the art of the ‘out-group,’ work that ‘moves beyond’ some artificially defined border of acceptability. I am not sure it’s a useful term to take seriously, but it can be a useful term insofar as I think we all know – kind of – what somebody means when they refer to something as ‘transgressive.’

What about experimental literature? Do you believe in this term?
Yes, I do. I think that the term ‘experimental’ is a helpful way of setting out one’s own agenda. I wouldn’t refer to my other books as experimental, but I do think The Texas Chainsaw Massacre counts in many ways. At the very least the agenda I’ve set out for myself in constructing this book more than the other three has been engaged in strategies from the avant-garde including hiding Oulipian structural mechanisms in the text innocuously, using cut-up techniques, erasure/blackout techniques and other things like that. I don’t necessarily think ‘experimental’ is a useful category signifier, but it certainly has a place as a writer, I think.

What are some criticisms you have of some writing you’ve seen that you thought just wasn’t that good? I ask this because I think it’s important to talk about what’s bad… just as much as the good. And yes, it’s subjective, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important.
I think that both simplicity and complexity are virtues in writing. One great writing sin I see committed a lot is people trying to communicate simple things in complex ways unnecessarily. I’m sure many will agree with me on this: it’s just unnecessary and often comes off as faux-intelligent. But the other great writing sin for me is also the opposite: making it seem like your idea is complex by utilizing a very simple, almost minimalist structure to appeal to the ideology of aesthetics. Rupi Kaur is absolutely guilty of this, and it’s almost embarrassing that I need to say so! Many modern poets, and those raised in the slam poetry scene for sure, are particularly guilty of this.

Do you feel there is a sort of gate-keeping that exists in the indie lit community, or does that not exist anymore?
I have never felt that, but I stay fairly separate (despite, maybe, being visible? it’s hard to assess one’s own presence in these things).

Pretend I am a new writer, and I send you a DM and I am like, “Josiah—I want to become a good writer and I want to be taken seriously.” What do you say to me?
Focus on the writing first, then get taken seriously second.

Do you have a favorite actor?
Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, Keanu Reeves, Nicolas Cage & Justin Theroux are all up there.

I like that every single actor you have listed here might actually gel the most with my definition for actor. Almost to the point where most (if not all) of the names you mentioned began in niche roles and then exploded into different trajectory arcs that probably ended up alienating a lot of their early/earliest fans. I would even add Matthew McConaughey to this list. But that’s not what we’re here for. Let’s talk directors. What about the directors? Who do you like?
Tobe Hooper, James Benning, Peter Greenaway, Michael Snow & maybe Michelangelo Antonioni would be something resembling a top five.

Okay, Let’s go further. What about: cinematographers? No one ever talks about the cinematographer.
Steven Soderbergh does cinematography on his own films a lot of the time and is probably the best working cinematographer. I really admire Christopher Doyle’s work with M. Night Shyamalan and Gus Van Sant, but I’m not so big on the rest of his career.

Do you really believe that Soderbergh is the best working cinematographer? Is this sincere?
It’s probably not sincere and I probably don’t really have a good answer. This is the best answer I do have, though, so it might as well be true for these purposes.

Fair enough. Screenwriter?
Great question, I have no idea! I don’t normally pay attention to screenwriters. I really like the Safdie brothers screenplays, particularly their screenplay for Good Time.

Heaven Knows What is one of my favorite films of all time. Frownland is also pretty amazing (shout out to Jacob Siefring for sending me the DVD, all the way from Canada!)

Amphetamine Sulphate is doing a lot of interesting things… the press stands apart aesthetically. At the risk of sounding super superficial, when a project is able to create so many pieces of work that all seem to work together to tell a much larger story… I hate to use the word but credibility comes to mind. It shows to me that this isn’t something that’s temporary. This is for the long haul. I think you know what I mean. Am I alone, in
appreciating the look? The white covers? The no barcodes? The fact that Philip Best is someone with a pretty interesting musical pedigree?
I think Amphetamine Sulphate is one of the most unified publishing projects in current existence. This is in large part due to the brilliance of Philip Best, who has a curatorial eye as publisher that is hard to look past. I also think that Amphetamine Sulphate are an interesting outlier compared to, say, Inside the Castle or 11:11 Press who are both ‘open for submissions’ publicly at particular times. Amphetamine Sulphate has this air of remove from all that, from the ‘publicity’ game. It adds to the mysterioso nature of the press. Philip is also a really committed academic reader and has a very solid and compelling understanding of the development of literature over time. I think this means that the holistic outlook of the press is one that takes the idea of what a book can be and what a book is seriously. The shift in recent years from primarily-chapbook to primarily-perfect-bound marks a jumping off point for Philip, too, another signal that, yes, Amphetamine Sulphate are in it for the long haul. In the second half of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, there’s a direct email from Philip to me included as part of the book, and it basically says that anything ‘current’ isn’t worth writing about because it will age poorly. Philip’s advice is to ‘aim for the eternal.’ This is, yes, a sign that this press is here to stay. To make a mark.

I’ll take this moment to recommend Desperate and Agitation by Alexandrine Ogundimu, two of the strongest debut works I’ve ever come across. For people completely uninitiated in the Amphetamine Sulphate ouevre, anywhere is a good place to start (including my book), but I think Alexandrine’s work encapsulates many facets of the entire project.

Yes. Alexandrine is one of my favorite writers. You bring her up. I interviewed her, not too long ago. We talked about NYC. This brings us to my next point. Yes. NYC. The NYC writing scene still exists. Get a literary agent and brand yourself with a label. Receive a huge advance and pray your first book sells more than it cost to make. Then, there’s the other side. All these online writers submitting to presses without agents. Sure, there’s still a hierarchy amongst indie presses (with some operating almost like the big ones) but for the most part, it’s writers grinding with short stories and poems and then eventually (hopefully?) published books. I feel there is so much good writing coming from this arena—there’s so much more happening (visibly) now than even just five years ago. What do you think is going to happen in five more years, with this scenario I’ve offered?
I hope it just stays the same! I suspect at some point there will be a critical mass and perhaps some smaller indie presses will burn out (many are run by just one or two individuals of course) or collapse entirely. Those that survive might find themselves become almost hegemonic in terms of how the scene is dictated. I’m not sure about you, but it’s certainly the case for me that 11:11, Inside the Castle and Amphetamine Sulphate don’t feel too ‘small’ any more, if that makes any kind of sense? Whilst all are small outfits with very few if any staff and are largely run on volunteer time, there’s an almost hegemonic in-group out-group division at present. I would expect to see some push back soon, almost like a counter-movement to whatever’s going on right now. I think a lot of the current ‘moment’ is pushing against some of the ideals of the alt-lit espoused by Tan Lin and people like that (even if Grant Maierhofer, who is influenced by Tan Lin, is pretty much the greatest writer and also dude ever) so I’d expect to see some kind of counter-counter-movement soon. A new sincerity or something like that? I don’t know. Some of us seem to be working in different ways. But I don’t know.

I expect that Ava Hofmann and Alexandrine Ogundimu will be the ones leading the way.

Talk a little bit, about the Feral Dove book (Road). You seem to really like the chapbook format.
I do like the chapbook format – three of my four books are chapbooks, Texas Chainsaw Massacre is the only perfect-bound one! – although it’s sounding like Road (my book with Feral Dove) is slowly heading in the direction of transforming into a perfect-bound very-short-book. The reason for this is that Road is actually extremely substantial – more so than any of my other work – despite its low word count. So much happens in it, in fact in many ways it’s a novel about what happens when things just happen for no reason. That threw up some bizarre problems to solve as a writer. I’m not entirely sure I’ve been successful. Thus, a chapbook – the stakes feel a little lower – it’s cheaper for people to buy, to gamble on, for one thing – but the chapbook format is also inchoate, feels ready to transform. If Inside the Castle was a book about rhizomatic identity, and Circles was a book located within a passing mindset, then Road is a book about how the entire contemporary world makes reality itself extremely mutable. The chapbook format – the small-book format generally – feels a lot more mutable than a large, chunky book. To put it into contrast, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a very heavy book, printed on high quality paper. It should – I hope – feel like something that readers have to contend with in one way or another. Road is more frivolous, even if there’s a lot of seriousness about it.

When it comes to Feral Dove, I’ve admired Evan’s work for a very long time. The online Feral Dove website has a frivolity to it too – an anything-goes kind of attitude which is extremely easy to accidentally get tricked by. Feral Dove publish work that can at times feel ‘unfinished’ or ‘inchoate’ or ‘slight,’ but Evan as an editor is constantly mediating and actually has a very strict and stringent submissions process. His role as editor on Road in terms of what the final book looks and reads like means I’d consider the book very much his as well as mine. His contributions were amazing. What I am saying is, Road is a book that has a feeling of hasty-ness, fastness, of rushing, of needing to be finished, of not being ‘fixed’ to it, but both Evan and I spent a lot of time trying to accomplish a feeling of fastness, of rushing, of a book that isn’t tightly wound, of a book that isn’t ‘fixed.’ Feral Dove has this aesthetic nailed. I’m not entirely sure what readers will make of it, to be honest with you. It’s less weird than that sounds. It’s my most accessible book to date. It’s about a homeless vagrant conversing with pigeons along a seemingly endless road in a nation that resembles the United States, New Zealand, Burma and Australia. I’ve heard comparisons to The Dark Tower by Stephen King, Monty Python, and a few other things like that. I hope it’s a lot of fun.

Do you talk a lot to other writers? What’s that like for you? When you’re talking to another writer, what exactly are you after?
Honestly, not too much. I talk to a lot of Amphetamine Sulphate writers. I suppose it makes sense given how unified the press is that we all have similar thoughts about what a book can do, what a book means, what the point of art is, and all of that. I talk to you a fair amount comparative to other writers. I do keep up with twitter, and I talk to Evan Isoline sometimes. I used to write to Dennis Cooper a lot on the blog which this will eventually end up on, and I enjoy Dennis’ conversation a lot. I found it very easy to feel like I was just taking advantage of his blog to talk to him as a person, though, and always preferred being able to engage seriously with the blog at the same time. So I usually step back now, unless I have time to actually seriously read a given post on a given day. That’s rarer now that I am in regular employment.

What about IRL? Do you talk to people about your books? Do you feel you are able to have meaningful conversations?
People in real life don’t really seem to read. The only conversation about my work I’ve had recently that I could consider meaningful in any real way was actually super negative and with my partner’s brother. He picked up a copy of Circles and tried to question me about why it ‘made no sense,’ which obviously put me on the defensive. I didn’t handle the situation well at all, but I also truly believe that the best way to approach all art is in good faith. If you still don’t like it after that, well, okay, but operating on the assumption that the book makes no sense and therefore cannot make sense is not conducive to a sensible conversation. My mother also sometimes calls me when I get poems published in local news outlets and things like that to ask if the poems I’ve written are about her. They never are. So I mostly try to avoid talking about my writing in real life.

This is a question that’s probably really unfair and it usually generates a ton of groans—I don’t care. How do you feel about the MFA? The writer who does the required schooling? I think I already know how you feel about all this, but much like a set of other questions I really like to ask over and over, to writers I respect—I always want to know what they think of the “classically trained” writer. Thoughts?
I’m sure I’m as cynical as anybody else on this, but I also find the idea of the classically trained writer a bit romantic! I wish I could be one! But the simple fact of the matter is that it’s not practical and being classically trained in the contemporary era has a whiff of determined classism to it. The best outcome of the MFA system for many people is the fact that they get to seriously read and seriously write for a long period of time. There is genuine value in that. But the idea that being ‘trained’ is the only way to become a writer is patently ridiculous given that it elevates the idea of reading and writing to a sphere in which only the elite can do it. I just think that’s all backwards, the best writing across history has generally been by prisoners & revolutionaries & poets in poverty. There are a few exceptions of course. Joyce and James had benefactors and wrote some of the best books of all time.

One thing I will say is that training isn’t everything. In my job supporting people whom society labels intellectually disabled, we see a lot of really interesting stuff come through. One of the people we support was telling me the other day about how Vincent Van Gogh painted the Sistine chapel. He of course did not paint the Sistine chapel but I think there is legitimate potential in an understanding of art history that is ‘false’ like this. The MFA system and being untrained is very different than the memory or associative issues that come with intellectual disability

If you don’t like something someone has written, do you keep quiet about it or do you say something? With a lot of interaction happening online, I fear people only write about what they like, and when they don’t like something, they either just don’t say anything or still write something, because maybe it’s a good “career” move for them. That writer has clout and they need to say something nice about the writing, even if it is trash, because all of this is a giant game of chess.
I won’t necessarily say something directly to their face. But I won’t lie about it. If somebody asks me my thoughts on a book I didn’t like, I’ll share them honestly. If I’m reviewing the book, I’ll write what I think, too. I find that I only tend to have enthusiastic feelings about art that I like (with a few exceptions for art that I truly despise), so I’ll only very rarely share online about disliking something.

I get the sense that you’re asking in a few of these questions, is there anything I’ve disliked recently from people I know personally to some extent? Well, Jake Reber’s Zer000 Excess as I mentioned earlier is an example. I also didn’t love B.R. Yeager’s Negative Space, although I love his other two books Amygdalatropolis and Pearl Death. I get on exceedingly well with Yeager online though and get the sense that he’s not the type to be offended by any particular feelings on a particular piece of work. I thought Negative Space was a little crudely defined and would have loved a more elided, tight text. Clearly Ben wasn’t interested in writing a text as elided and tight as the masterpiece that is Amygdalatropolis (one of the best horror novels of the 21st century) but that doesn’t make its aesthetic predisposition any more appealing to me. I’m not the biggest fan of Thomas Moore’s Alone, certainly not compared to others. I think Damien Ark’s Fucked Up is very flawed even though I like it. I know there’s a high probability that both Thomas and Damien will be reading this interview, but I get on with both of them exceedingly well in our brief interactions and don’t for a moment view this as a denouncement of their work. There aren’t any books that I’ve felt morally offended or appalled by recently. I really despised the movie The Painted Bird, which is the strongest I’ve felt negatively about a work of art in recent memory.

I didn’t know what “sub-tweeting” was until last year. How do you feel about these arguments writers have with each other, where they call each other out without calling each other out? Is this a necessary part of the writing scene? Do you partake?
I like the idea of arguments. Nabokov famously responded to a question about Thomas Pynchon with the answer ‘who?’ which I love. Twitter is just a more fair-game arena for snobby games like that. I’m here for it! I want a twitter war! When it’s in good humor and doesn’t gate-keep people (e.g. stop them from writing), I don’t think it matters. The whole drama about Fuccboi at the beginning of 2022 has been a nightmare though. I like criticism a lot and despise anti-critic artists, but it’s always healthier as a writer to just write. I like the idea that any criticism we do should be extensions of our body of work (John Trefry and Mike Corrao are very inspiring on this front). It therefore seems more productive to just write than to get in twitter wars. But if it’s in good humor, I think it’s all good fun.

Some writers use pseudonyms. As far as I know, Josiah is your real name. Do you ever fear something you wrote or say my one day get you “in trouble” (whatever that means)? Would you say you are more careful about what you say or you decided a long time ago that you were going to be yourself, no matter the (potential) cost?
I have actually already been in trouble for something I wrote. I went through a very long and perverse legal process last year about something unrelated to my writing, that my writing then got dragged into. I wish I could tell you more about it, but I’m not really allowed to say anything. It was effectively an obscenity trial brought against me as revenge for the breakdown of a relationship. I won. It was very traumatic. It hasn’t changed the kinds of things I do or don’t feel comfortable writing about.

You avoided the question. Is Josiah your real name?
Yes, Josiah is my real name.

I thought it might be. I want to talk about learning how to write. If you’ve participated in any sort of workshop, please talk about that. The process, your thoughts—did you find that it did anything for you?
I’ve never participated in any in-person kind of workshop. I have, however, participated in a five-week online program run by Steven Arcieri and Samuel M. Moss with 11:11 Press and that was great – it was a small group, really just a time to shoot the shit about writing with people who really care about writing. I think the main advantage of school and college and workshops generally is that it’s genuinely rare to actually be around people who care about things like writing, film, academics, whatever – that goes a long way and doesn’t count for nothing. I would never pay crazy amounts of money to be involved in a workshop, but if something was free or cheap and suited me, I see no reason not to get involved. All practice is good practice. If you’re anything like me, having practice talking about your writing with normal people is an essential practice. I have painful conversations all the time about the ‘legitimacy’ of the topics I write about. I try to ignore it. I’m also a very sensitive person. So, take that how you will.

Are there things you won’t talk or write about? And if yes, why?
I try to be conscious of the boundaries of others. I would never publish something explicitly about another individual without their consent. If their identity is something I view as sufficiently hidden, though? Fair game.

That’s interesting. So, how do you feel about other writers, assuming you associate with any IRL. Do you worry that what you say or do may appear in a future work of theirs? I want to say that I don’t think this is something that would bother you, but I still want to hear your thoughts.
Most of the writers I know in real life are also theatre-makers and I think theatre-makers tend to understand that there’s a degree of untruth to any representation; we’re certainly not dealing with a Knausgaard situation here. I would be happy for anybody that I know to write anything about me if it were artistic. I may still be upset by what they write, of course. I have no ethical or moral issue with their decision to create. One writer I’ve started speaking to a fair amount recently is Nathan Joe. We see eye to eye on a lot of things and not so eye to eye on others, but we are unified in our interest in some structurally considered dissection of the real, day-to-day lives that we lead. Nathan could write whatever he wants about me, he’d probably be more right than I am about me. But I also don’t think I’m interesting enough for Nathan to write about. It seems narcissistic to assume that anyone would! Short answer: yeah, it wouldn’t bother me at all.

How do you discover new writing?
I can spend hours in second-hand bookstores….I listen to the podcast Writing the Rapids….I try to stay active on twitter….I buy what my friends recommend….I’ll often make a purchase when Dennis Cooper shares something about a book on his blog (this is how I discovered New Juche)….

How do we close?
Mike, that’s the most difficult question yet! If you’ve read this entire interview and still don’t feel like buying my book, or even if you do, can I suggest that you do also consider picking up Mike’s great Third World Magicks [1] [2]? It’s a real contender for his best work yet. And if you don’t want to spend any money at all, go illegally download a copy of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) and watch that tonight or something, and if you’ve already seen that, maybe The Mangler (1995) or Toolbox Murders (2004).














Purchase The Texas Chainsaw Massacre here
294 Pages Perfect-Bound 5.5”x8”




p.s. Hey. Today the blog does its self-transformation into a red carpet number to assist the birthing process of the new novel by the talent-exploding New Zealander wiz kid author and so much more Josiah Morgan. I’ve read it, and it’s super great, and I highly recommend that you enjoy this heaping introduction and score yourselves a copy post-haste. Thanks so much, Josiah, for thinking of my abode as a doorway. ** rewritedept, Hi, C. Tricks are … tricky in the good sense. Excellent about the recording and promised release. I, of course, don’t have a clue as to what that equipment can do, but I trust you. Adolescents sucked? Huh. Why? Too old for their name? Happy 36th. The 30s are a really good phase, or mine were. It’s like when you arrive but you’re not too there yet or something. I’m happy to hear you buzzing, man, and take care. ** Dominik, Hi!!! Yes, indeed. Yeah, I don’t suspect that letter is on its way to me, but only because I don’t believe he has my address. I’m sure he’s daydreaming about it. The 38th … hold on … ah, yes, much undeserved sadness there. Love organising the rest of the sad boys into a gigantic sad boy band that achieves worldwide success on a level that BTS can only fantasise about, G. ** Misanthrope, Ageist! I really need to buy new clothes. I wear mine until they’re literally full of holes and falling apart, as anyone who hangs out with me would tell you. But, god, I hate buying clothes, and not just because they have to be organic and because organic clothes look like burlap bags, although that doesn’t help. I think I’ve been a morning person forever. I used to have to take lots of drugs to be able to go out late and not be thinking ‘Bedtime.’ ** Ryan ANGUSRAZEEEE, Hi, Ryan. Nice Mishima quote, obviously. I listened to that track you’re working on, and it’s fucking killer. I love how it ‘sinks’ and acquires this whirling denseness and re-erupts full-fledged, etc. Very exciting! ** Sypha, Another ageist! Three hours plus Robert Pattinson alone make ‘The Batman’ a cliff-edge for me. Ah, gotcha, old stuff repackaged. Well, enjoy. Yeah, if redoing the Ligotti Day to your satisfaction interests you, the blog is hungry for it. And for the NeoDeca post too. That sounds just fine. ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi. Since the vast majority of those sad boys were Russian, I fear they’re probably rampaging in military gear in Ukraine. I didn’t know PSG got knocked out. I must’ve been asleep. The streets were a bit eerily quiet on my walk home last night, and that explains it. Oops. ** Brian, Hey, Brian. Yes, mostly Russian, with, I think, two Americans tossed in. It seems we have the green light. With our producer, nothing can be believed until it’s in writing, but it seems so. Okay, the little film will be what it is. At least you’re not the director. Writing about Shakespeare? All power to the guy, but … snore. But you aced it. That’s obviously a good sign of all kinds of things. The Ethiopian food was tremendously yum. And of course my friends were great. What was the grade on the little film? Anything else pop amongst the 24 available hours? ** T, Hi! Yes, the vast majority of those boys were from the era of Russian twink porn prevalence and dominance. To me, the ‘you’ is a very interesting device/mode. Very challenging to work with for the reasons you say. It’s very difficult to get the reader to see the intricacies involved. But that just makes it more alluring to work with. I’ve used it very sparingly, and usually as an outburst within something that’s established via an ‘I’ or third-person perspective. The makes it a little easier. And I did direct address in ‘I Wished’ but without employing ‘you’. I encourage you to tackle it, for sure. A ton of potential there. The day you wished me is hard to beat and so up my alley. Gosh, I’m going to try to figure out a way to simulate it whilst doing what I would otherwise do unthinkingly. Hm … I hope your Thursday stares at you with its jaw dropped in awe. xo. ** Okay. Please do your part in ushering Josiah’s book into this realm we lazily refer to as reality, thank you. See you tomorrow.


  1. Shane Christmass

    Congratulations Josiah. That’s a great interview.

  2. JM

    thank you so much dennis for transforming your blog for me as ever & so glad to hear you enjoyed the thing, one of the riskier things I could possibly have published I think….. I’m here to add to whoever mentioned The Batman to say that it’s pretty great, though it is Hollywood, and not quite your bag, so your mileage may vary…

    • rewritedept

      looks great, will be adding it to my shopping list ASAP!

  3. rewritedept


    yeah, the field kit is a tricky little beast. it’s like a modular synthesizer but without the synthesizer part. lots of patch cables and funny little noisemakers. i’m super smitten with it. i’ve been spending lots of money on music gear because my roommate and i are starting a band (well, and because i’m an addict and when i gave up painkillers, i had to find something to fill the void; gear and candy have filled the dopamine lack for me (yes candy, i’m in love with hi-chews and zotz and gummy coke bottles lately)). i guess i didn’t tell you about my roomie. william’s a friend of mine from vegas who’s as equally obsessed with the jesus lizard, mbv, and sonic youth as i am. he was living in seattle for a few years after he kicked dope, and was sick of it so i talked him into moving to reno to start a band. we’re amassing guitars and amps and preparing for world domination (ex-junkies gotta fill the void somehow). i get to be the lee ranaldo of our duo because william doesn’t know music theory and i kinda do, so i think up weird tunings and effects combos and then we execute them as well as we can. i guess it helps that i can write a riff and then hear a whole song around it, and am discovering that i can actually pull it off.

    oh yeah, the adolescents were bad bad. just amateurish and sloppy, which works when a band are actual adolescents, but a band populated by grown-assed adults who’ve been touring and putting records out for four decades have no business being as shit as they were. if anything, it’s encouraging that they can go on national tours with a set as awful as theirs was, because it gives me hope for my music.

    good day? mine was long. work was blech. home now, watching house MD (william got me hooked on it). got the next two days off to work on songs and recharge. since moving up here, i hardly ever drink anymore, down from a couple cases of beer and a bottle of whisky a week. despite this, i’m in pain all the time, but that might be due to the fact that i weigh more than i ever have in my life and i work on my feet all day (which will be ending soon). i’m at least keeping a decent outlook, though having my music to throw myself into does help with that.

    i’m rabbiting, so i’m gonna go get ready for bed. hope all is bright and shiny in yr world and that yr day gives you something great. i finally feel, at 36, like i’m becoming the person i always wanted to be, except that i’m lonely and i don’t see any way to change that. i’m still a hopeless romantic.

    talk soon. love you.


  4. Jamie

    Hey again, Dennis.
    Firstly, congratulations to Josiah for this book. I’ve been excited about it for a while and that excerpt didn’t let me down at all. And what a great interview, nice and long, which I appreciate.
    How are you, D? I’m good, I think, although just a tad bluesy today and I can’t put my finger on why. It’s okay though. Maybe it’ll be a productive bummer. That’s funny that you were thinking about making a Jerome Hiller post! And it does seem hard to come across his stuff online. The person doing the intro to the screening I saw said he’s pretty adamant about his stuff only being projected iirc. I hadn’t heard of Peter Hutton at all, but had a look yesterday and his stuff looks great. I’m looking forward to the post.
    I have a question about yesterday’s post, if you don’t mind. How was it constructed, if you can remember? Did you use already existing photos or screenshots? It’s really not an important question, but I became intrigued when going through the post.
    Have a beautiful day.
    Love, Jamie

  5. David Ehrenstein


  6. Misanthrope

    Josiah, Congrats to you, sir!

    Dennis, Good to see Josiah getting his stuff out there. He’s a star.

    Hahaha. I guess I’m guilty of being ageist there. Man, I wonder what those guys in those stills look like now.

    I’m the same. Holes all over my clothes. Or so faded they look like something new but very old at the same time. My gym shirts had/have holes in them. I didn’t even realize it until a couple weeks ago.

    Yeah, man, those organic clothes…you’d think they could come up with a little better styles, no?

    I set my alarm for 7 during the week and usually end up waking up around 5 or 6 (like this morning). Erp. I knock out about 7 hours of sleep and I’m up. I kinda like it. 😀

  7. Dominik


    What an excellent, super-rich welcome to the world post! Thank you, Dennis and, if you happen to read this, congratulations and thank you, Josiah! I’ve just ordered my copy, and I cannot wait to hold it in my hands!!

    Haha, I think I’d be a secret (or maybe not even so secret, you know) fan of that band. A sad boy band – it sounds nothing if not thrilling. Love crying so much during the band’s first gig that even his boxers get wet – or at least that’s what he says, Od.

  8. Sypha

    Hey, I just ordered this 2 days ago, looking forward to it, Josiah is another AS author whose work I enjoy a lot (I’m also really looking forward to ROAD, portions of which I was lucky to read in an earlier state). Great interview, I really need to rewatch TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE one day.

    Yeah, the Ligotti Day would just need a few minor updates. It’s not as if he’s written a ton of fiction in the 11 years since the day last premiered: literally only 2 short stories. But there has been some interesting stuff in his life and work in that time worth noting. Anyway, I’ll let you know when it’s done.

  9. _Black_Acrylic

    @ Josiah, congratulations to you on this unveiling! AS are killing it, and have been for quite some time.

  10. Bill

    Congratulations on the new novel, Josiah. Will try to get my hands on a copy soon.

    The sad Russian twinks yesterday have strange recent resonances, of course.

    Very busy at work. But almost the weekend! I’ve been enjoying Monica Ojeda’s novel Jawbone, which helps too.


  11. Alexandrine Ogundimu

    I regret that I have not yet read anything by Josiah Morgan but I need to change that. Those excerpts are primo shit, perfectly balanced. Love the interview too, both Josiah and Mike are so insightful.

    Dennis, do you check your social media messages? Left you a private note there I’m not sure you saw. If not don’t worry about it, just wondering.

  12. Ryan angusraze

    Hey Dennis!

    Thank you so much for your king words, I needed them today, it’s silly, quite often I get very insecure about my music, my career, that I am constantly hitting roadblocks, climbing uphill for nothing, I get this childish impulse to like quit which I think is a disadvantage for placing my heart first over my head. I guess it’s moreso that music or art is the only thing I can really do and really want to do and that itch that suggests that there’s millions of others doing it At the same time and that I’ll never make a living from it in any capacity is still there, I have to balance it out with the idea that like noise musicians can earn a living, people that play white noise and stuff so there must be a Avenue of success for me. I don’t know, I get kind of weepy on these days it’s very silly but it usually passes, there’s lots of artistic stuff I really want to do, acting, film etc and I feel like music is an industry where if you break through to it you can sort of dip into those other sectors of creative stuff too.

    Oh yeah I was gonna ask, I think I read somewhere you were working on a film or something, if you know of any opportunities within that in the capacity of acting or whatever let me know, would love to be a part of it, also feel free to use my music in it if you want etc etc,

    Anyway yes, I’ll be ok I think


  13. l@rst

    JM- That book looks so rad, really looking for the scene by scene breakdown. That movie still scares the living shit out of me.

    Hey bud! I got my library system to order copies Castle Faggot and they did! And it is truly one of the funniest things I’ve read. The opening sequence was like an art house Chuck Tingle. You gotta be a fan of Chuck Tingle right, at least in theory… “My Handsome Sentient Face Mask Protects Me Despite The Ridiculous Conspiracy Theories That He Won’t Also He Pounds My Butt” is the finest COVID lit title around.
    So, anyway, yeah Castle Faggot is great! Things are good here, knock on peckerwood, got issue 3 of Criterion zine in circulation (circulation if like 7 but I do it for me right?), I started cutting up an old copy of Gravity’s Rainbow and making junk mail collage postcards, that’s been fun, and still headed toward my poetry collection this fall. Fun Fun! Talk soon!

  14. Steve Erickson

    Josiah, this looks great! What a thorough Q&A!

    I don’t know if I’ve mentioned my mom’s struggles with chronic pain here, but they’ve become literally crippling in the last few weeks. She finally saw the doctor and got some tests done, with a follow-up next week. She had developed a really fatalistic attitude about getting help, but she’s in so much pain that the doctor’s visit is the only time she’s left the house in 2 weeks. I’m extremely worried, but at least there’s now some kind of plan.

    My article on MOMI’s “First Look” series, including FIRST TIME and the latest Radu Jude and Tsai Ming-liang shorts, is up here:

  15. Brandon

    Hey Dennis, Went in to get my stitches taken out and they said I have to wait a few more days still, ugh. Not that I care that much but damn my wrist is getting itchy and I’m bad with not scratching. I have tomorrow off work but don’t have any plans yet but alas I am determined to find something fun to do. Looking forward to the weekend? Talk more later.

  16. Brian

    Hey Dennis,

    Many congrats to Josiah. The book looks/sounds/reads great. Love the moodboard, too. Let’s hope your producer’s words are trustworthy and things are rolling for real. I snore for Shakespeare too. I actually enjoy his plays when I read them for pleasure, but their ubiquity in academics exhausts me utterly. No grade on the film yet. Her response was ambivalent, but then again she was ambivalent to everyone’s, and ours was far from the weakest, I’m confident. A bigger issue: because my producer failed to schedule the necessary pre-production meeting with her, she says we can’t shoot this Monday, which sets our entire production back by a week, maybe two (because the equipment is only available within a certain window). It fills me with stress even thinking about it. We’re trying to work out a plan. Anyway, I attempted to unwind from that impending nightmare by watching Bresson’s “A Man Escaped”, which was funny, because I was essentially just substituting real life tension for an artificial but no less excruciating tension, but the movie was sublime all the same, of course. Easily my favorite of Brssson’s black-and-white films (perhaps a basic opinion), probably in my top three of his oeuvre overall, and an instant all-timer. He was the best sound designer ever, I think. And that final scene was so inexpressibly moving. That was far and away the highlight of an otherwise alternately tedious and anxiety-inducing 24 hours. The film situation will be plaguing me all weekend, but I’ll find a way to endure it. And I’m very excited for my brother’s return from college and mother’s return from a work trip in Texas, also. Some things to look forward to, certainly. How was your Thursday? And what delights does Friday bear? Millions upon millions, cosmos willing.

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