The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Please welcome to the world … Thomas Kendall The Autodidacts (Whiskey Tit)

 

A man mysteriously disappears in a lighthouse, as if dissolved by light, leaving behind a notebook filled with bizarre claims of a curse and a series of drawings entitled ‘The Death of the Jubilant Child.’ The investigation into the disappearance unearths hidden connections between the disappeared man, Helene and the strange figure of the Man With The Forks In His Fingers. Fifteen years later, the discovery of the detective’s copy of the notebook by Helene’s daughter seems to set in motion a repetition of the events of the past.

Circuitously structured and intensely lyrical, The Autodidacts explores the mythos of friendship, the necessity of failure, the duty of imagination, and the dreams of working class lives demanding to be beautiful. It is a prayer in denial of its heresy, a metafictional-roman-a-clef trying to maintain its concealment, and an attempt to love that shows its workings out in the margins of its construction.

Purchase The Autodidacts here.

 

Playlist

Bohren and the club de gore – Midnight black earth

PJ Harvey – White Chalk

Tortoise – Jetty

The Cure – Deep green sea

Guns N Roses Welcome to the Jungle

The Mountain Goats – Amy Spent Gladiator 1

Darklands – Jesus and Mary Chain

Trans Am – Sad and Young

Arthur Russel – Arm around you.

Mudhoney – Touch me I’m sick

My little Brother – Art Brut

Here comes a regular – The replacements

Kyuss – Gardenia

The Mountain Goats – Ezekial 7 and the permanent efficacy of grace.

 

Key texts

As I Lay Dying – William Faulkner

I instantly loved how this heightened and unhinged and completely impossible language was given to these characters who would most likely be represented as completely impoverished if written by some bourgeois social ‘realist.’I found that idea so beautiful. It was rawer too than any British iteration of modernism.

When I read this as a kid it felt like it exploded what language could be.

The Book of Lies – Agota Kristoff

Maybe my favourite all time work. I can’t even really explain it.

Guide – Dennis Cooper

I always think about Guide in parallel to Try since it marks a kind of interlocking transition from the emotional/analytic to analytic/emotional in the cycle’s structure. The way Guide backgrounds the emotional in order to show how emotion informs and underpins the analytical, the different ways the structure of the text works with emotion not as the result or goal of the work of art but rather as an interesting substance within it, combined with the idea of the novel as a kind of actualising thing in the world, a spell… I just love it.

Lanark – Alasdair Gray

Structure, content. Not upper-class.

Sons and Mothers – DH Lawrence

He gets a lot of shit, deservingly in places. But his work risked something, risked beauty and humiliation and again class suffuses his novel in a way antithetical to most canonical literature.

Mulholland Drive – David Lynch

I like the idea of a fantasy desperately trying to maintain itself and failing at the point of completion.

 

Readings

The Autodidacts — The Lighthouse, 1982

The Autodidacts — Excerpt 2

 

 

(preview the first 40 pages here: https://whiskeytit.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/The-Autodidacts-excerpt._print.pdf)

 

Acknowledgements

I’d like to thank both Dennis and the Blog community. This place has been an education for me over the years and I’ve discovered so many artists and writers that have been immeasurably important to me. Mark Gluth, Jeff Jackson, Thomas Moronic, Slatted Light… All of you have helped me in innumerable ways. I’d also like to thank my friend and musician par excellence Matt Lyne for the cover work he made for the novel. Last but not least, thank you to Miette Gillette for taking a chance on this book.

 

 

*

p.s. Hey. ** Today is an especially happy occasion because the blog gets to help mark the birth of the very long-awaited first novel by the extraordinary writer and longtime DC’s supporter/denizen Thomas Kendall. I’ve been an admirer of Thomas’s fiction for ages, and at long last the world at large can join in. It’s a gorgeous and brilliant novel that I highly recommend to all. Please peruse its evidence, and grab the thing itself if you are so inspired. Thank you, Tom, for letting the blog be part of the meet and greet. ** David Ehrenstein, Ah! ** Steve Erickson, I think ‘Vortex’ can’t help but be better and hopefully significantly so. How was it? I’ll see in the next day or two, I think. Oh, I didn’t actually get a good look at the DVD he bought. (Gisele and I were there doing a launch event for the ‘Jerk’ DVD and my attention was pulled elsewhere.) I’m glad you liked ‘Bee Reaved’. Yeah it’s/she’s great. How’s the Gran Fury book? ** Bill, I’m with you on the buckets, and I don’t know why either. Well, I guess because the pleasurableness seems obvious? What’s not to like? My head cold is being very stubborn, but there is incremental improvement at least. Thank you. Potemkine also handles the theater release in France for small, daring films and releases films on DVD, and I suspect those ventures in combination is what helps keep their flagship store afloat. My weekend was meetings and Zooms and some seeing of friends and a lot of sniffling. Happy week! ** Dominik, Hi!!! Oh, yeah, your Friday comment didn’t show up. Weird, and, well, not so weird given this place’s technical oddness. Pollard is insanely prolific. Guided by Voices alone have 35 albums and counting, and he releases hundreds and hundreds of other albums, singles, cassette-only releases, etc. at an alarming pace. I think there’s a book of Lou Reed’s interviews. if I’m not mistaken, and, yes, I’m glad I was never in any of the interlocutors’ shoes, even when he was being ‘nice’, ha ha. My head cold is still hanging in there, taking its sweet time to die, but it is more negotiable now, so I guess I should feel lucky. It’s a mystery, right? The pimples thing. I had bad pimples for, oh, a couple of years, but then they gave up finally. But I remember people at my school whose faces were just ravaged by acne, and I don’t feel like I see teens with that level of facial devastation anymore. Maybe it’s worse in the US. I mean, almost everything is worse there, so that’s probably an answer. I want a robot that looks like me but knows how to schmooze, because I can’t (and don’t want to). Love creating an international holiday where everyone has to wear a hat that is an exact albeit shrunk down replica of the tallest building in their country for 24 hours, G. ** _Black_Acrylic, Ah, you were one of those robot drawing kids! I used to know kids who drew robots all the time. How many of those 400 records are 12″ singles do you estimate? I’m guessing a significant portion? ** Misanthrope, Oh, yeah that old paranoiacs’ wives tale, sure. I’ve never trued Kimchi. I’ve never really want to. It looks (and smells)… I don’t know. That Justin Isis, covering his bases. ** Bernard, I think that makes total sense on your automaton preference. One of the problems with the high tech, ultra-realistic robots is that they only ‘wow’ in person. Which in most cases means being Japan. Which you and I aren’t, clearly. My weekend was relatively quiet as well, at least externally. See you very soon? ** Ryan the abominable twink, Abominable is a very underrated, underused word, so I’m happy to see you employing it. Apart from my head cold and various film project related stresses, I’m fine. How is your brother like you, and how is he different from you? Wow, it sounds the budget on your dream video would be pricey, but, wait, Kenneth Anger, Jack Smith, the particular charm and magic of the handmade and low budget, etc., I guess it wouldn’t have to be. The film is … having growing pains at the moment, but that’s really no surprise, and onwards, and thanks for asking. Have fun with the family, and I guess try to enjoy having to be relatively silent? Hugs, me. ** Okay. Devote yourselves to the introduction to Mr. Kendall’s excellent novel today, thank you very much. See you tomorrow.

8 Comments

  1. Misanthrope

    Thomas Kendall, Congrats! The excerpts here are superb!

    Dennis, Hahaha, yes, an old wives’ tale indeed. But it’s gonna happen! 😉

    Today is supposed to be last kinda cold day for a long time. It better be. 50 degrees at this point in the year (that was yesterday, today is supposed to be 61) is totally unacceptable.

    Kimchi is good. A good flavor and a little spicy. I think you’d like it. Good just to have a little bit here and there, like on a salad or as a small side. So many things you can do with it. And the health benefits are great.

    I got those reviews done. I like doing them every once in a while. I think I did one for I Wished. I can’t remember, hahaha. But I defo gave it 5 stars.

  2. Dominik

    Hi!!

    I always start book introduction posts with the excerpts and only read the rest of the post if I like them. I devoured this entry in its absolute entirety. Congratulations, Thomas, and thank you for sharing, Dennis!

    35 albums, oh my god… I’d say only Stephen King can compete, but I feel the comparison somewhat inappropriate because we’ve already agreed that King must be using ghost writers, clones, or elves (Santa style), and I don’t really think Robert Pollard uses any of these, which must also mean that whatever he puts out hits a certain level of quality.

    You’re right! I found two books compiling some of Lou Reed’s interviews. I must get these for my brother – he’s a huge fan, haha.

    I’m trying to remember whether I had classmates in high school who had really bad acne and maybe… one or two people? But really not a lot. And yeah, it seems to be even less of an issue for teens today. But then again, I’m not in the US, haha.

    Oh, fuck, yes. A robot that knows how to schmooze and keep up small talk for a decent amount of time! I’m absolutely, tragically hopeless when it comes to face-to-face small talk.

    According to Wikipedia, I’d be a wearing a St. Adalbert’s Basilica hat (which would definitely look better), but soon I’d have to change it to a MOL Campus hat (which would look a lot funnier), haha. Thank you, love! Love snapping his fingers and making your head cold drop dead, Od.

  3. Bill

    Congratulations on the new novel, Thomas! The goodreads entry was missing the cover image; just took care of it.

    Hope your head cold continues to improve, Dennis. The weekend was fairly mellow and civilized. I just noticed that a bunch of Warmerdam’s films became streamable. Saw The Dress, and will be checking out more.

    Bill

  4. David Ehrenstein

    Neat Doc on Marcel

  5. TomK

    Hey Dennis, Thanks for today!

    Misanthrope, Dominik: really glad you like the extracts. Thanks

    Cheers Bill!

  6. Steve Erickson

    I saw VORTEX today and liked it. It’s a Gaspar Noe film for people who dislike them, although the continuities with his earlier work are still apparent.

    My Slant Magazine review of Obongjayar’s SOME NIGHTS I DREAM OF DOORS is now out: https://www.slantmagazine.com/music/obongjayar-some-nights-i-dream-of-doors-album-review/.

    I’m disappointed that Certified Forgotten turned down my pitch for a Grandrieux essay, although it seemed to have more to do with budgetary constraints. I have some other ideas I’d like to pitch them over the summer, especially a piece on Koji Shiraishi’s OCCULT.

    The Gran Fury book is worth reading, although I didn’t learn much I didn’t already know from other histories of ACT UP. More and more, it feels like the dissolution of ACT UP once effective treatments for HIV were made available – technically, they still exist, but they’re about as relevant as Queer Nation – was a missed opportunity to agitate for much larger health care reform. The book ends by saying that the demise of AIDS as a crisis was only true for Americans with health insurance, mostly white people. (You probably know the stat that even now, half of African-American gay men will become HIV positive at some point in their life.)

  7. RYANRAZE

    dennis!
    yess usually my videos have these high concepts but i usually have a way of expressing it on a shoestring budget, mainly out of necessity. but it can tie into the theme too, like the first section of that video im going to imploy a lot of green screen and stuff and make it v stylised in the same vein is Hausu (great film) so it has that sort of scrapbook look, chopped together but minimal, like sort of being a secretive homo scrapbook of soft core porn to life, sort of rough, not super well preserved with fold lines and tape etc. i’ve also been looking at some more japanese homoerotic photography from the 1970s there’s actually a fuckton! there’s this one photographers name called Kuro Haga who had a magazine called Bon Magazine, here is a link to some photos of his that i shared on twitter https://twitter.com/angusraze/status/1523474266364153856?s=21

    there’s also another photographer Tamotsu Yato that did similar work, here is a link to some of his work my friend shared with me https://t.co/tJKYQjuItf

    these will all go in the moodbored thing i am using for that sex album. also, speaking of things we are both working on i approached my friend River who is a gay writer for multiple publications he deals with politics and such, he’s written some great stuff for rev twink which is a fun site, he is up for interviewing us both in the scope of a conversation between us both overseen by him, it won’t be like right nowww coz i know u have loads of stuff going on but when your free he’s totally up for it, it could be super fun and we can both promote the stuff we have going on at the time

    lots of love, let me know what u think of the photos

    and oh with my brother, he is quite structured quite domesticated and numeral, really maths and science, i am small (5’6, he is 6’9), spunky, somewhat erratic and energetic and solely word and physical based in my interests i suppose, but we have a lot of crossover in crass humour and he is gay too, i joke to him i am culturally gay, because i don’t rly label my sexuality but i adore homosexuality in its cultural depictions, it’s communities and how gay men have rallied against the states that have seeked to repress them. homoeroticism is one of the most subversive, textual and continously evolving yet entirely unique facets of art i think i know. so i’m like artistically gay, and i fuck guys 80% of the time..or something

    anyway yes!!

    lots of love

    ry

  8. Paul Curran

    Congratulations, Thomas!!! Great to see The Autodidacts finding a home. I remember reading an early draft, and I know how much you put into it. Excellent that everything worked out!

    Dennis, Hi from the Land of the Rising Robots!!! Hope you’re doing well. Things slowly getting back to ‘normal’ here. Weird and kind of exhausting getting out on the trains after being mostly at home for two years…

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