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The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Please welcome to the world … Richard Chiem King of Joy (Soft Skull Press)

 

‘Something has settled in. I am helpless like a crumpled car, Spencer says. I am helpless like a crumpled car, he says, and this is how he wakes up every day. Something has settled in and run amok. The alarm rings, the phone vibrates and glows in the dark. There is a scratching feeling at the back of Spencer’s throat. As a bad habit from growing up impoverished in foster homes full of kids, Spencer never eats breakfast. He never even thinks about eating breakfast. He does this insane thing of waking up early in the morning: waking up at three in the morning. With a purpose, a will, and a way. Sleep is a mask and waking up is a portal, he thinks.’ — Richard Cheim

 

‘Richard Chiem’s King of Joy traces an abandoned girl’s tragic trajectory from unloved teenager to abandoned bride to snuff porn queen. This experimental literary novel is the right amount of both dreamy and dark.

‘Corvus, limp and poisonous as a human cigarette, is at the end of her rope. She exists in a creative, hysterical subculture that’s one party after another, stuffed into “an empty Olympic-size swimming pool, filled with mostly half-naked bodies, awash in fog, perspiration, and more neon flashes.” Of course, it can’t last.

‘Corvus, staged by her playwright husband Perry, achieves cult status. When she loses him, Corvus goes from grey to black. She drifts through the underworld of bespoke pornography, where she meets Tim, her new director, and her co-star Amber, who’s a golden foil to her permanent midnight.

‘The novel is lush, packed with jarring details, and surprisingly tender. Corvus—who seems doomed to circle the drain—instead revisits images, dialogue, and objects that link her past to her present.

‘Although sex and porn drive the plot, Chiem chooses to leave the act itself offstage; this puts the novel’s focus where it belongs and intensifies the characters’ connections. In King of Joy, everyone is either an actor or a voyeur, including the reader. Chiem’s command of perspective is excellent, and each sensory detail feels like a nail on the skin.

‘The novel is enticingly bitter at times, juxtaposing sharp images against pastel-sentimental landscapes. As Corvus trails Tim down a flight of stairs, she notes the tiny tattoo on the back of his neck: “MOM.” The balance of acid and sweet is King of Joy‘s strength. Corvus’s relationship with Perry, in particular, is unexpectedly moving, natural, and tender.

King of Joy is a delicious, demonic novel that fades through adjacent, looping worlds in the magical early 2000s. Chiem evokes a lost decade and suggests the shape of the monsters that churned beneath its surface.’ — Claire Foster, FOREWARD

 

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Further

Richard Chiem Site
RC @ Twitter
Richard Chiem’s Quiet, Violent Magical Realism
Urban Hymns: ‘You Private Person’ by Richard Chiem
13 Things recommended by Richard Chiem
The Talking Book Podcast: Sky Up By Richard Chiem
‘GOOD LOOKING OUT’
‘DEEP INNER THOUGHTS OF THE CASHIERS OF EXTREME COUPONING’
‘KAFKA WATCHING THE NBA: LA, KLAY, SADNESS, AND DAME’
Excerpt: ‘King of Joy’
Excerpt from King of Joy
‘Ten Times Gravity’
‘Back Pockets Full of Dynamite’
‘Vile As I Am’
‘Baby is Going to Die Tonight’
‘Diminishing Returns’
The Second Coming
READ ALONG WITH RICHARD CHIEM
Buy ‘King of Joy’

 

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Extras


Richard Chiem reads SAVANNAH | VOMIT


richard chiem, frank hinton and the apparatus of independent online publishing


testing we are a goldmine for frances


dim sum

 

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Book tour

March 5/Seattle/Elliott Bay Book Company, 7 pm
March 7/Portland/Powell’s Books on Hawthorne, 7:30 pm
March 12/NYC/McNally Jackson, 7 pm
March 14/Los Angeles/Skylight Books, 7:30 pm
March 19/San Francisco/Green Apple Books on the Park, 7:30 pm
April 2/Seattle/Third Place Books Ravenna, 5:45 pm

 

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Interview 1

 

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Interview 2
from Hobart

 

Matthew Simmons: Do you have any feelings about being referred to as the Wong Kar-wai of prose by Stephen Tully Dierks? Do you like Wong Kar-wai? Do you think the association is an apt one?

Richard Chiem: I really like Wong Kar-Wai. In The Mood Of Love and Happy Together especially. I haven’t been really watching his movies much recently, but I like the actors he works with too. I wrote a story that mentions Leslie Cheung, who took his life in 2003 by jumping from his hotel window. He was one of my favorite actors. He was also a huge pop star, which added this weird element to his death and his acting. He was a person of many worlds and complex obligations.

That’s sweet of Stephen to make the comparison. That seems really cool. I think it makes sense too, because most of my stories are usually love stories. But I don’t think it’s a perfect comparison. I am a fan of Christopher Doyle’s and Wong Kar-Wai’s work together, but I kind of like darker directors: Kelly Reichardt, David Cronenberg, and Kubrick, mainly because they work or have worked in a lot of different genres but remain themselves. I want to try to approach writing in the same fashion and try different settings, however weird or terrifying or mundane, to make a narrative work. I’ve watched Dogtooth a few dozen times in the past couple of years too because the world there is so mesmerizing, so detailed in its storytelling it’s almost isolating, and I think there is a lot to learn from watching. I really like mumblecore right now too. My favorite mumblecore movie right now is actually Mumblecore by Megan Boyle and Tao Lin. I think they made something really beautiful together because it was raw and honest. It’s really its own monster. I want my stories to be their own monsters.

MS: I was also thinking that a lot of your characters react in understated ways, or the way you describe them frames them in an understated way, but at the same time, they have a real concern with the quality of light and the feeling of temperature within them. Like the stories are quiet but really bright. You seem introspective. When we talk, you seem to pay a lot of attention. I feel like you are cataloging a lot of things. Are you?

RC: Yes, I think I am cataloging things but not for stories. I think I’m just trying to be a good listener. When someone engages with me, I want them to realize that I am listening and they have me. My characters are usually the same, meaning they are there to be present, even when they are severely depressed, despondent or distracted. But they are alive and trying and ultimately a part of the world. They live in a place like ours where there are a lot of things to survive, with boredom and apathy being just a few of those things. I have always been a quiet person, absorbing different conversations as they happen and making silent adjustments, watching the scene. I have always had the same impulse of listening before saying a word.

MS: Even though you are quiet and prone to listen before you speak—and write stories that reflect that—do you feel ambitious? As a writer? As a person? Are you interested in “taking over the game?” (Secretly, I hope you are and I hope you do.)

RC: I do feel very ambitious, because my goals are to be happy and to somehow be good at what I do. For a while, I was obsessed with famous suicides and writers and musicians who had killed themselves. I wanted to know what happened to them to make them do that. I came to a realization a few years ago that I will always be writing. That would be my one constant. There were a few truths that I needed to know and practice for everything to turn out how I would envision, especially in a long vibrant life. I would absorb everything that I wanted to absorb, and use what I learned as I go, at a pace I would invent. Read and write every day and think carefully. Be a good person. Romanticize every hardship, perceiving them as other cells you have to absorb in order to get to the other side. I would like to play in “the game,” if there is one to play but right now the focus is simply to write, which is simple but not easy. It takes every day.

 

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Book

Richard Chiem King of Joy
Soft Skull Press

‘Corvus has always had an overactive imagination. Growing up, she develops a unique coping mechanism: she can imagine herself out of any situation, no matter how terrible. To get through each day, Corvus escapes into scenes from fantasy novels, pop songs, and action/ adventure movies, and survives by turning the everyday into just another role to play in the movie of her life.

‘After a tragic loss, Corvus finds a sadness so great she cannot imagine it away. Instead, she finds Tim, a pornographer with unconventional methods, who offers her a new way to escape into movies. But when a sinister plot of greed and betrayal is revealed, Corvus must fight to reclaim her independence, and discovers she is stronger than even she could have imagined.

‘Written in Richard Chiem’s singular style, King of Joy is equal parts sledgehammer and sweet song, a neon, pulsing portrait of grief.’ — Soft Skull

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Excerpt

THERE ARE SCRATCHING noises outside the door, with the light vibrating underneath. Corvus washes her face with her hands, and smiles for a breath before opening the door only slightly ajar. For a moment, she doesn’t see anything, only the same narrow hallway and eerie carpet. There are paintings of the same landscape repeated along the entire length of the wall, what looks to be simply waves and rocks and a girl standing out at the edge of a cliff. The only sound is the drone coming from outside, and muffled screaming, disembodied happy girls. For a second Corvus almost forgets she isn’t alone here.

Then she sees from down at the end of the hallway, heading south for the stairs, a pack of brown pit bulls treading in rhythm, each lively and muscular. One immediately senses Corvus, and runs back down, jumping in the air to her open door. It slams mindlessly against the hinges, crashing into her right side. Corvus leans down, using the door like a shield, looking as though like she was almost about to smile again, like things were going to get better if only she didn’t blink or look away or appear like she didn’t believe in the things that were happening. She spends a few minutes convincing herself that her hand is not broken, shaking her hand as though wet.

Corvus opens the door right when the dog charges again. This time the animal stays, doesn’t pounce, and looks up at Corvus, who’s bleeding from her hand. Whatever movement she makes she makes without breathing. The dog has lipstick prints all over his face, all different shades and colors, panting in place with his entire muscle of a body. She holds her hand out. The dog comes over and licks the cut on Corvus’ hand, whimpering as she comes down to him low to the ground as natural as gravity. Corvus says, Good boy. Good boy. I love you already.

She walks downstairs.

_____

HER EYES GROW accustomed in the dark and she can see figures emerging in the room. The dog is no longer panting by her side and has trampled off somewhere, Corvus can hear him faintly banging against cupboards and yelping. The pitbull is a little space she owns in the dark, a small truth she uses to calm down, something to isolate and follow in her mind. Listening to the sound of a door opening with no door to be seen, and with no light emitting, she almost wants to say something. Instead of struggling to see, Corvus clenches her fists, bites her lips, and waits for what’s next, breathing so slowly she feels a slight euphoria. Nothing suddenly changes for a few minutes, no movements, the large dark ahead remains, every fiber of sound seems imagined while she inhabits herself still in place. Corvus crouches to the floor, consciously cracking her knees. She says, I can’t remember the last time I was this scared.

Lights slowly go on in the basement, as though coming alive, a flickering dim then suddenly bright room. She forgets how to talk to people and what to say all of a sudden. Her eyes see everything. All the girls from outside dancing around the burning trees are lined up touching hip to hip only a few feet away from her. Corvus could see empty porn sets being lit up behind them, almost every one filled with clouds of balloons or stale rose petals. Everything clean and soft and motionless. Tim comes walking in through double doors with a camera and tripod in hand shaking the floorboards and says, It’s time to clock in.

Amber steps out from the row, the first of any of them to smile, and says, Don’t be scared. She takes a long time to walk over to Corvus and pets her hand, held inside her own. Her aureoles are small and tan like the rest of her body, her pulse is the softest warmest ticking. With Amber still there caressing her hand, Corvus hasn’t seen Amber blink once since they first made eye contact, before she suddenly winks.

They lean into each other’s ears and whisper things back and forth.

Tim sets up his camera, lighting a cigarette as he aligns the viewfinder with the floating balloons. Some of the girls wave at him but he stares straight ahead to the backdrops, blowing on his cigarette, watching it burn.

After a moment, Corvus nods and steps forward, no face on her face. She takes off her shirt and starts to lightly stretch, her shoulder blades rotating like a dancer warming up and under her breath she says, I fear there is no such thing as being naked.

_____

AFTER TWO DAYS, Corvus begins to find her rhythm, her forearms and abdomen get stronger by the scene, and by day’s end she can hardly describe the way she feels. It is quite possible that she feels nothing. Already, Corvus keeps to herself, nodding and smiling to everyone but never asking any questions back or saying more than she needs to. Wandering the hallways, always to a balcony, she says, I don’t mind being alone here. She wears a black mask, once a hot prop, everywhere around the large wooden house in the woods. She learns from Amber that there is more than one wind that blows here, that there are four winds. Corvus leans against the glass doors and watches the forest as though something is about to arrive.

There is a stale taste in her mouth, and she licks the inside of her teeth sitting on the cold floor of the marble balcony, secretly empowering herself by being alone, enjoying the little quiet. Corvus still gets dressed in the morning although she realizes there is no need to. In her flannel, she is the one quiet girl in the chatter, and Tim uses her in every scene. Amber says, Lights, camera, and throws something like a firecracker on the bed that explodes into bright stupid confetti. Corvus at first says nothing, losing feeling in parts of her legs, grabbing ahold of the headboard. She uses every single breath in her lungs for timing, not making a noise, and for a moment she thinks, hiding safely inside her head, that some things are easy.

Corvus imagines another her walking into the room being shocked and sad and taking everything in one detail at a time, already slowly adapting to raw circumstances as she stands there a witness, as though her organs moved and vibrated inside her when she could feel herself being destroyed, ready for the thought of even more life. The basement stays lit and bright for hours.

Tim provokes her to say something.

Corvus tucks her head back and, from inside her hair, stares into the eye of the camera and says nothing. The lens zoom and expand. Her face returns no rise. The bed shakes the mattress and the box spring as one.

Tim almost reddens to act before Amber touches his arm and says, Stop.

She whispers, Leave her alone.

Amber fires another confetti kaboom above the room and says, Look, I have goosebumps, holding her arm to Tim’s face and Tim smells her arm. Corvus starts quietly moaning so only she hears. The scene ends with every single floating piece of confetti stuck motionless to the ground, altogether too numerous to count.

Corvus comes back later, in the hot stuffy evening, to walk over them barefoot, all the smooth plastic strips, when she tosses and turns and cannot sleep for the life of her, and she resolves to wander the hallways, turn off and on lights. She discovers the breeze on the floor in the basement to be the coldest air in the entire house, in the dark in the woods. Corvus says, Four winds, falling asleep there, flat on her back, briefly imagining that if she could, she would sleep in pitch dark for hours and hours in a warm or cool deep crevice and want nothing. Almost forever.

 

 

*

p.s. Hey. Today I’m super happy to employ the blog as an usher at the event of Richard Chiem’s novel’s birth. He’s one of my favorite younger writers. I’m kind of in awe of his prose, which has so many seemingly at odd qualities, from utter precision to deep mysteriousness, happening concurrently that his writing, or its effect, can seem almost 3-dimensional a lot of the time. Anyway, his long awaited first novel ‘King of Joy’ met reality yesterday, and I highly recommend you visit this welcoming post and, more importantly, duh, read the book. ** Keatswana, Darkening is a door’s Xanadu. What’s the work that’s turned you dawg-like? Yes, I think it is/was Mardi Gras from what I read. Too social and alcohol soaked for me. New blog stuff! Everyone, sidle over to Keaton’s blog among blogs and take in his new stuff: ‘Role Models’, ’10 Sexy Writers’, and more. Thanks, bud. ** David Ehrenstein, My rare pleasure to introduce you to a filmmaker you don’t already know. Score. ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi. Well, if you can handle the format, ‘Angelus’ is online in full. Enjoy your quality Mum time. ** Corey Heiferman, Hi. Not bad: a mere week to rename a breakup a boon. Paris is for anyone with a functioning brain. I made a Robert Kramer Day, if it’s of interest. It’ll be coming up on the 19th. Those reasons not to are in fact the reasons to think about your cousin maybe? However, caveat, I’ve always encouraged my brain to go as difficult as possible, and I seem to have learned how to become its riveted, emotionally settled researcher. ** Steve Erickson, Ha, no, I too don’t see myself buying Hatari on vinyl or anything. HEALTH aren’t what they were anymore. The new one is grim, I think. Noe’s reviews are divided here as I guess they are everywhere. The more thoughtful, leftward places and papers (Liberation, Le Monde, L’Humanite, etc.) take them seriously to one degree or another while the more rightward, populist venues treat them as scandal-provokers. The heat is on! Enjoy winter’s last hurrah. ** Kyler, Oh, gosh, thanks. I can’t explain it anymore than I would guess you can explain yours. Lucky breaks? Oh, wow, the whole film is online? I just made a Malle Day, and I missed that, and I will now insert it and hope the video isn’t killed between now and launch date. Thanks a bunch! ** Misanthrope, Hi, G. Well, my practical side jumps in to note that the earth is already overpopulated, so that would mean no more baby-making, which I personally think would make life tedium on earth. I think some evolved version of Dorian Gray or vampires without the Goth and maybe without the biting might work though. Nice: the new bed. I got new heat, which is, you know, sort of kind of in the same realm. Ah, your niece is cool. Dude, you’re like an episode of on of those rare watchable./enjoyable reality shows but without the camera sadly. Enjoy that shit. ** Okay. Dig and dwell within my intro to Richard Cheim’s novel if you feel so inclined. See you tomorrow.

9 Comments

  1. Being a humungous Wong Kar Wai fan Richard Chiem’s work interests me greatly . Wong hasn’t made new film in some time.

  2. chris dankland

    March 6, 2019 at 11:20 pm

    hey dennis !!

    how’s yr morning going? I just wanted to drop in and say hi, I’m sorry that it’s been so long since i’ve commented. I’m psyched for the new richard chiem book, I’m gonna get a copy after I log out here. His last book was so good – he’s really talented — & the details about the novel’s contents make it irresistible to me. Congratulations Richard, if ur reading this !!

    just to catch u up on everything, jennifer & I moved to phoenix about 4 months ago & we’re really happy with the place we got & the neighborhood & the city in general. So far the weather has been perfect, basically like the type of weather I’ve experience in California — & I think it’ll stay more or less like this for a few more months before the wrath of god touches down to wipe away the sins of mankind. There’s lots of things to do in the city & lots of beautiful places to go hiking and drive around. I’ve been super busy lately – waking up at 4or 3am to get a couple hours of writing in, then go to work, then a little bit more writing time at home before studying to get certified to teach in Arizona, which takes up most of my evenings, plus hanging out with Jennifer & keeping up with submissions for xray (the mag just had its first year anniversary !!) is keeping me busy. So that’s the catch up, more or less.

    Thanks so much for reposting some of my DC guest posts, btw !! I also really enjoyed the bookworm interview.

    Today I listened to the new GBV album, which I enjoy – pollard’s singing voice is changing, I think. I like it though, it creates a different feel to the music. I’ve become a big fan of them over the last year. Have u heard any of it & if so, do u have any opinions?

    Anyway I won’t take up too much time – I’m gonna try & comment more often here, I always enjoy this place. Jennifer says hi !! I hope u have a lovely day, take care !!

  3. Hey D.,

    Woah, that excerpt is amazing, shit. I will buy this book soon for sure, thanks for the recommendation.
    I’m totally busy this week and the last (which is why I haven’t commented in a bit), but still, to go back to the tailored off conversation, that sounds fascinating about the new movie being mostly emotional horror. What do you mean by “the seeming trappings of a horror movie are dysfunctional”? I get if you wanna keep the concepts under wraps while developing the whole thing, it just sounds like an exciting way to think about horror. How’s the PGL trailer panning out? Oh, and your Bookworm was great!! It’s crazy how insightful Michael Silverblatt is, you guys held your own wonderfully.
    As for my week, despite being crazy busy (Schoolwork, internship applications, moderation portfolio’s), it’s also been totally incredible. Peggy really enjoyed my last vampire movie, even though it’s (intentionally, but probably to a fault) derivative of Ryan Trecartin’s stuff. I really like the central concept of it though, and think I’m gonna run with it for the final project. Also, Craig Baldwin came to the school and I got to talk with him for a while, which was way way way beyond inspiring in a number of ways. I adore “Tribulation 99”, and had no idea his actual human energy was as intense as that movie’s is. So, weirdly a dream come true week (exclusively concerning film though, which is kind of confusing) while also being insane workload-wise. How’s your week shaping up? Are you also in the crazy busy state of mind?

  4. In the US, it seems like the further left the outlet is, the more likely they are to scoff at Noe and write off his work as edgelord sexism/racism/homophobia. But that says something about what leftism has come to mean in 2019 America. CLIMAX has probably flown beneath the radar of conservative outlets – one criticism it’s received is that its depiction of LSD is inaccurate and the film comes off as an anti-drug tract, but they might embrace it for that reason.

    I listened to the Prodigy’s FAT OF THE LAND, beyond its 3 hit singles, for the first time since the ’90s today in the wake of Keith Flint’s death. I liked “Firestarter,” then thought the group’s attempt at punk-rave was lame posturing and got pissed off at the trolling (athough no one used the word then) of “Smack My Bitch Up.” Today, I don’t really care about authenticity and can appreciate this as pop music, although Flint’s Johnny Rotten imitation on “Firestarter” hasn’t aged well and “Smack My Bitch Up” would play better as an instrumental. The New Republic ran a really good article about why this album sounded like the zeitgeist or the future when it came out but its air of danger faded in about 6 months.

    I’m interviewing Mark Cousins tomorrow morning.

  5. Xanadu, I think I know her. Just working too much for the company. Mardi Gras might be fun. I’m only like less than an hours plane ride from NOLA. Speaking of drinking going out amongst the creatures of the night here in just a moment. Hunting tail of course. The last batch of slaves cracked me up. You are heated! Trying to pull off a big trick well see how it goes.

  6. d-

    this looks like a great read.

    i’m not having a great time, and i know you probably don’t want to hear about it, but i don’t really have anyone else i can confide in, and it’s easier to tell you than to tell someone who i have to see or talk to on a regular basis. my birthday was saturday. 33. it’s. ugh, i don’t really like birthdays. the day itself was ok, work was slow and we closed early so i took my roommate’s kid home, had a couple beers and took a nap. but now i’m having that stupid ‘i’m old and i’ve never accomplished anything with my life and nothing gives me any enjoyment anymore and no one will ever love me and i’m gonna die alone and miserable &c.’ thing. and. i kinda can’t refute any of that right now. i hate myself lately more than i hate anything else, and that’s not really a change from normal, but if that’s my fucking normal, then why keep bothering with it? not that you need to be worried or anything. i’ve had active suicidal ideation for as long as i can remember and i’ve always been too much of a pussy to act on it.

    i have psoriasis all over my arms and legs and behind my ears and on my fucking cock and you have no idea how much that’s just ruining everything too. i used to at least be able to find some solace in jerking off, but when yr dick looks like it just got run thru a fucking paper shredder, that option’s out the window too.

    i was almost happy for a second saturday morning, but i’ve been in this fucking doldrums all week and i just don’t even want to stay on the ride. we have this work party thing tomorrow night, and my roommate wants me to come up with his kid after the kid’s out of school and go snowboard for a bit and hang out, and i really don’t want to go. i was gonna try to find a couple of his friends from school and just have him stay with them while i take an uber home, but i don’t have the fucking money to and i don’t wanna precipitate an argument or anything. i just really don’t want to be around people and i know that’s not a great solution because i have a tendency to isolate myself when my depression gets too bad, and that usually exacerbates things, but the other option is to go and be miserable and pissy around people i have to see all the fucking time and try really hard not to drink too much that i do or say something hurtful or otherwise problematic, which i know won’t happen because whenever i’m forced to be around people when i don’t want to be, i end up getting overly fucked up in an effort to at least pretend i’m not looking for the earliest, easiest opportunity i can get to leave, which generally doesn’t end well. did i ever tell you about how both of the full-blown nervous breakdowns i had were within a week of my birthday? because i feel another one coming and i really don’t need that in my life.

    in somewhat happier news, i have finally found a fleetwood mac song i like (PG-era mac not included, obvs). ‘tusk.’ however, given my mental precariousness at the moment, it means that all i’ve listened to this week has been that song, a bunch of elliott smith, and the last couple pissed jeans records, which have been oddly comforting in this current anomie.

    hope all is well with you. sorry to unload, i’m just having a tough go of things right now (i honestly didn’t even get half into what all’s going wrong in my life, but i don’t have the time to write that novel, and i’m sure you wouldn’t want to read it anyway), and sometimes it helps to get it on paper and get a fresh perspective from an uninvolved party. i’m gonna finish getting drunk enough to go to sleep. talk soon. love you.

    -c.

  7. without going into detail, because the specifics are kinda unmentionable at the moment, i can’t wait to see what my latest round of trying to fuck everything in my life up without even really trying to will result in. bet it won’t be pretty.

    oh! you will be happy to know that the puce mary performance blew my mind and frederikke’s recordings have been bringing me much comfort in my time of distress.

  8. Corey Heiferman

    March 7, 2019 at 7:50 am

    The paragraph starting with “There is a stale taste in her mouth” stands alone pretty well in a text that seems hard to excerpt. Got me thinking that there’s almost always time to write a one-paragraph description of a mental state whether or not it’s my own at a particular moment.

    Looking forward to the Robert Kramer day. Watched “Ice” yesterday. I think I can see why his work didn’t go over well in USA, because it explores leftism as a mental state and group dynamic rather than making an actual case for something. It does contain polemic but it’s fake polemic whose subject is the nature of polemic rather than the issues of the day. Yet unlike pure farce like “Punishment Park” it is still grounded in reality and watching it could help actual leftists “self-criticize” on an extreme meta level. Really powerful cinema cocktail mixed with “Out 1.” So thankful to have found both at the video store.

    I sat in on a film theory class yesterday at Tel Aviv University. I’m much more interested in practice than theory but this happened to be the lecture my acquaintance was attending so I tagged along. I could get by with my Hebrew starting this fall if I had to, but I still think it’s still a better plan to start in fall 2020. The idea would be to focus primarily on getting my Hebrew top-notch, saving up as much money as I can, and making films with currently available resources. That way I could start in a position of strength rather than as somebody who just barely made it over the bar. Also, auditing classes for free no questions asked is extremely common, so I could dip my toe in and get the lay of the land (painful mixing of metaphors lol) before officially starting.

    Happy to hear you got heat back. I hope you won’t need it till next winter.

  9. Dennis,

    Hello! The last six months have been pretty rough, so I’ve been quiet on all fronts. Finished up my MFA and now I’m back in CA looking for a job, and writing, and reading a lot. This novel looks awesome. I’ll have to check it out. I hope you are well!

    Best,
    Douglas

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