The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Raymond Queneau, Party Animal



Raymond Queneau was born in Le Havre in 1903 and went to Paris when he was 17. For some time he joined André Breton’s Surrealist group, but after only a brief stint he dissociated himself. Now, seeing Queneau’s work in retrospect, it seems inevitable. The Surrealists tried to achieve a sort of pure expression from the unconscious, without mediation of the author’s self-aware “persona.” Queneau’s texts, on the contrary, are quite deliberate products of the author’s conscious mind, of his memory, his intentionality.
—-Although Queneau’s novels give an impression of enormous spontaneity, they were in fact painstakingly conceived in every small detail. He even once remarked that he simply could not leave to hazard the task of determining the number of chapters of a book. Talking about his first novel, Le Chiendent (usually translated as The Bark Tree), he pointed out that it had 91 sections, because 91 was the sum of the first 13 numbers, and also the product of two numbers he was particularly fond of: 7 and 13.
—-Queneau became a well-known name in France after the huge success of his novel Zazie dans le métro (1959), in which he tells the adventures of a 12-year-old girl from the country who comes to Paris for the first time. Zazie was filmed by Louis Malle the following year, when the French nouvelle vague was sweeping across the international movie scene, and the success of both the book and the film propped Queneau to a sort of celebrity — a fame seldom experienced by writers sharing his level of erudition and complexity.
—-Queneau joined in 1950 the Collège of Pataphysique, the group of intellectuals and writers whose zany, tongue-in-cheek manner brought a sort of Brothers-Marxist approach to French philosophy. Pataphysics was created by poet and playwright Alfred Jarry (1873-1907), and is defined as the science of imaginary solutions, or the science which investigates not the laws of Nature, but the exceptions to those laws.
—-In 1960 Queneau founded, together with François Le Lionnais, the “Oulipo” (Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle). This is a group of writers who include Georges Perec, Harry Matthews, Jacques Roubaud, Italo Calvino, Jacques Bens and others. The Oulipo projects were to a great extent a result of Queneau’s love for mathematics, a love that he expressed in a series of essays and papers on number theory, set theory and combinatory analysis. He was made a member of the Goncourt Academy in 1951, and died in 1976. — Braulio Tavares, Scriptorium



from The Review of Contemporary Fiction

GEORGES CHARBONNIER: Raymond Queneau, you said to me one day that two great currents exist in literature and that basically one could, if I understood you correctly, link most novels either to the “Iliad” or to the “Odyssey.”

RAYMOND QUENEAU: I think that those are in fact the two poles of Western novelistic activity since its creation, that is to say since Homer, and that one can easily classify all works of fiction either as descendants of the “Iliad” or of the “Odyssey.” I had the pleasure of hearing this idea of the Occidental novel as a continuation of the Iliad summarized recently by Butor during a conference [25 July 1961]. He said excellent things in this regard, but he didn’t speak about the Odyssey, and it seems to me that the Odyssey represents the other pole of Western literature.

GC: When would you say there’s an Iliad, and when would you say there’s an Odyssey?

RQ: First of all, these two works have one thing in common: one finds in them nearly all the techniques of the novel. It doesn’t seem to me that anyone has discovered much that’s new since then.

The “Iliad” is already an extremely erudite work, with a very well-defined subject; it is, as you know, the story of Achilles’ anger, that is, something very specific, placed in a very vast historical and mythological context. One incident projects in a way a glimmer of light on the historical world which surrounds it and vice versa, but it is the incident which makes the story; the rest contributes only to the “suspense” and to the development of the story.

Many novelists likewise take well-defined, precise characters, whose stories are sometimes of mediocre interest, and place them in an important historical context, which remains secondary in spite of everything.

“The Charterhouse of Parma” and “War and Peace” are novels of the Iliad genre, not because they tell of battles, like Homer (that counts, too), but because the important things are the characters plunged into history and the conflict between characters and history; for example, the work of Proust is also an Iliad. The battles take place in drawing rooms, but they are still battles, and the nucleus is the narrator’s personality and the people who interest him.

Moreover, there is the “Odyssey.” The “Odyssey” is demonstrably much more personal; it is the story of someone who, in the course of diverse experiences, acquires a personality or, if you will, affirms and recovers his personality, like Ulysses, who finds himself unchanged, aside from his “experience,” at the end of his odyssey.

So there the examples are extremely numerous: “Don Quixote,” “Moby Dick,” “Ulysses,” naturally, but also a book like “Bouvard and Pecuchet,” for example, which is well-situated in this line of descent. The story of “Bouvard and Pecuchet” is an Odyssey through the sciences, the letters, and the arts. Bouvard and Pecuchet as well find themselves as they were at the beginning of the novel since the book’s conclusion is that they start to copy again, just as Ulysses returns to be the king of his little island.

Rabelais also, certainly Rabelais is an Odyssey; “The Red and the Black” is an Odyssey, whereas “The Charterhouse of Parma” seems to me to be an Iliad. And in the “Odyssey” there are, as much as in the “Iliad,” technical refinements which are extremely remarkable, and I’m surprised they aren’t mentioned more often. For example, when Ulysses hears his own story sung by an epic poet and then he reveals his identity and the poet wants to continue singing and Ulysses isn’t interested any longer; that’s very astonishing, modern, shall we say, because it’s really a novel within a novel. To have one’s own story told by a third party who doesn’t know that the character in question is himself the hero of the story being told, that’s a technical refinement which could date from the twentieth century. It’s true that one finds this sophistication also in “Don Quixote.”

GC: “Jacques le fataliste”?

RQ: “Jacques le fataliste,” that’s also an Odyssey. I wonder if there aren’t more Odysseys than Iliads among the great novels.

GC: That’s what I was going to ask you; are there not more Odysseys than Iliads?

RQ: Zola’s work is an Iliad. There again is an example of a story centered on characters who are sometimes not even very interesting; and with a great tableau, a great historical ferment in the background.

GC: How can we classify these memoirs which touch so closely on the novel, like “The Confessions” of Rousseau, for example?

RQ: Ah! All confessions are Odysseys. “Wilhelm Meister” is an Odyssey; all autobiographical tales are Odysseys; all lives are Odysseys.

GC: So that we find ourselves in the presence of very few Iliads when all is said and done.

RQ: Yes, there are in fact very few, but I can come up with some, even so. Perhaps Sagan is linked to the “Iliad.”

GC: But then is literature devoted to these two currents: to compose an Iliad or to compose an Odyssey?

RQ: Until the beginning of the twentieth century, it is easy to classify all fictional works under one or the other rubric. But perhaps the total awareness of this dependence with respect to Homer and the Greek epic, achieved by Joyce in “Ulysses,” perhaps that dissipated this sort of ascendancy of Homer over all Occidental literature. Perhaps since then, in fact, we have gotten a little away from this double aspect of either putting the man, the character, back into historical events or of making a historical event of his very life.

One can say that fiction has consisted either of placing imaginary characters in a true story, which is the “Iliad,” or of presenting the story of an individual as having a general historical value, which is the “Odyssey.” But after the magical act accomplished by Joyce with “Ulysses,” perhaps we are getting away from it. It seems to me that an author who has determined very new domains in literature is Gertrude Stein and “The Making of Americans” is doubtless very meaningful in this regard, because there, there is an attempt to suppress all history. It is the history of the making of the Americans. It is a very great Iliad because it concerns the creation of a nation. It is a very great Odyssey because it concerns the Odyssey, which is the story of Americans up to the point where they are well-established and even so it is detached from the historical side in a sort of present that Gertrude Stein called the “timeless present,” in a sort of formal immobility which causes peoples’ lives—one can’t say that it is exemplary, because the lives of Bouvard and Pecuchet, the life of Don Quixote are exemplary—peoples’ lives to be at the same time concrete and ideal. It’s a kind of transformation of the individual to a type, a little in the sense of the Platonic ideal, and one which remains even so extremely concrete. Banality is elevated to the rank of a metaphysical value. It is a response to the question “Is there an ‘idea’ of each individual?”

GC: In all the attempts at the contemporary novel, do you see a will to situate oneself with respect to what you have just defined?

RQ: I didn’t quite grasp. . .

GC: Does the recent novel try to get away from both the “Iliad” and the “Odyssey”? Or is it that on the contrary it belongs deliberately to one of these currents?

RQ: Well, I’ll admit that I didn’t quite grasp the final meaning, the conclusion of Butor’s conference, but it seemed to me that he was more interested in the Iliad aspect of literature and that he spoke of it seeing himself in this same line of descent, even if he opposed it on certain points. He expressed himself more in terms of “society” than of “history,” but all societies are historical; there have been only rare moments in history where individual histories were able to run their course without wars or revolutions. It was perhaps not until the nineteenth century, in the English novel, that we find people who are likely to spend a whole lifetime without being hit by bombs, who have a tranquil life in which history does not intervene. But, aside from this period, there have always been many things happening externally, and peoples’ private lives are always thrown into disorder. The “Iliad” is the private lives of people thrown into disorder by history.

GC: So there would be nothing but Odysseys in the English novel of the nineteenth century?

RQ: I’m forced to admit that. There is a great novel likewise written at a time when history seemed to be immobilized, during the first century of the Roman Empire; I’m talking about the “Satyricon” of Petronius. It is an Odyssey obviously because people come and go, they are dragged from incident to incident, but one can say also that it is, potentially, the Odyssey of the Roman Empire itself. Outside of those who were busy with palace intrigue, the people, the “little people” above all, those of whom Petronius spoke, probably thought that it would always be that way, but one sees that he himself must not have considered this state of things as so long-lasting.

There were others who were not of this opinion either—those were the Christians, but that’s another story!

One could wonder, moreover, if Petronius made allusion to Christianity in the “Satyricon.” It’s a controversial question. The episode of the Matron of Ephesus and, in the last chapters, the story of the cadaver that the heirs have to consume anthropophagically seem really to me to be anti Christian parodies.

GC: In a general way, would the “Iliad” and the “Odyssey” correspond to two realizations, two ways of apprehending things, two ways of conceiving them?

RQ: Yes. In one we think of giving importance to history, but it is the individual who is interesting, and in the other the individual is interesting and we want to give him a historical importance. In fact, it’s the same point of view, that is to say the novelist’s point of view, the creator of fiction’s point of view. It is the character who interests him. Sometimes he wants to convince the reader that the story he is telling is as interesting as universal history, and sometimes he thinks that he will render this story interesting by slipping it into universal history. The story of Achilles could take place anywhere; that the all-powerful lord comes to take his favorite slave from him, it could happen in a completely different historical context from the Trojan War. It is obviously only the author’s genius which persuades the reader that the story cannot be otherwise, that it must be accepted that way.

GC: Would the truth be a synthesis of these two?

RQ: Either a synthesis or a way out.


Official Website (French)
Official Oulipo (French)




Big Book

Exercises in Style

Raymond Queneau’s Exercises in Style is a collection of 99 retellings of the same story, each in a different style. As a haiku, a telegram, an official letter, a blurb for a novel, a word game, and an ode. As apostrophe, onomatopoeia, and parechesis. It’s told onomatopoetically, philosophically, telegraphically, and mathematically. It’s even told as interjections: “Psst! h’m! ah! oh! hem! ah! ha! . . .” In each, the narrator gets on the “S” bus, witnesses an altercation between a man (a zazou) with a long neck and funny hat and another passenger, and then sees the same person two hours later at the Gare St.-Lazare getting advice on adding a button to his overcoat.

There’s nothing especially avant-garde about Queneau’s Exercises in Style. Such playful rhetorical exercises, called copia, were popular in the schoolrooms of Shakespeare’s day. A favorite textbook of that time, De Copia by Erasmus, illustrated the exercise with more than 150 variations on the simple sentence (in Latin), “Your letter pleased me greatly.”

Queneau said he wanted to do for literature what Bach did for music in the Art of fugue. He also wanted to simultaneously clean up the French language, remove its archaic, stuffy conventions, while affirming its elasticity, its variety, its refusal to be contained in anything so deadening as an ‘official’ language. It is a little known fact that Exercises is a detective story, with the solution fittingly revealed in the 99th chapter.

Buy it


In the S bus, in the rush hour. A chap of about 26, felt hat with a cord instead of a ribbon, neck too long, as if someone’s been having a tug‑of‑war with it. People getting off. The chap in question gets annoyed with one of the men standing next to him. He accuses him of jostling him every time anyone goes past. A snivelling tone which is meant to be aggressive. When he sees a vacant seat he throws himself on to it.

Two hours later, I meet him in the Cour de Rome, in front of the gare Saint‑Lazare. He’s with a friend who’s saying: “You ought to get an extra button put on your overcoat.” He shows him where (at the lapels) and why.

I was not displeased with my attire this day. I was in augurating a new, rather sprightly hat, and an overcoat of which I thought most highly. Met X in front of the gare St.‑Lazare who tried to spoil my pleasure by trying to prove that this over coat is cut too low at the lapels and that I ought to have an extra button on it. At least he didn’t dare attack my headgear.

A bit earlier I had roundly told off a vulgar type who was purposely ill‑treating me every time anyone went by getting off or on. This happened in one of those unspeakably foul omnibi which fill up with hoi polloi precisely at those times when I have to consent to use them.

Next to me on the bus platform today there was one of those half‑baked young fellows, you don’t find so many of them these days, thank God, otherwise I should end up by killing one. This particular one, a brat of something like 26 or 30, irritated me particularly not so much because of his great long featherless­ turkey’s neck as because of the nature of the ribbon round his hat, a ribbon which wasn’t much more than a sort of maroon‑colored string. Dirty beast! He absolutely disgusted me! As there were a lot of people in our bus at that hour I took advantage of all the pushing and shoving there is every time anyone gets on or off to dig him in the ribs with my elbow. In the end he took to his heels, the milksop, before I could make up my mind to tread on his dogs to teach him a lesson. I could also have told him, just to annoy him, that he needed another button on his overcoat which was cut too low at the lapels.

I got into the Porte Champerret bus. There were a lot of people in it, young, old, women, soldiers. I paid for my ticket and then looked around me. It wasn’t very interesting. But finally I noticed a young man whose neck I thought was too long. I examined his hat and I observed that instead of a ribbon it had a plaited cord. Every time another passenger got on there was a lot of pushing and shoving. I didn’t say anything, but all the same the young man with the long neck started to quarrel with his neighbor. I didn’t hear what he said, but they gave each other some dirty looks. Then the young man with the long neck went and sat down in a hurry.

Coming back from the Porte Champerret I passed in front of the gare Saint‑Lazarre. I saw my young man having a discussion with a pal. The pal indicated a button just above the lapels of the young man’s overcoat. Then the bus took me off and I didn’t see them any more. I had a seat and I wasn’t thinking about anything.

At midday the heat coils round the feet of bus passengers. If, placed on a long neck, a stupid head adorned with a grotesque hat should chance to become inflamed, then a quarrel immediately breaks out. Very soon to become dissipated, however, in an atmosphere too heavy to carry ultimate insults very vividly from mouth to ear.

Thus one goes and sits down inside, where it’s cool.

Later can be posed, in front of stations with double courtyards, sartorial questions about some button or other which fingers slimy with sweat self‑confidently fiddle with.

Dr. Queneau said that it had happened at midday. Some passengers had got into the bus. They had been squashed tightly together. On his head a young man had been wearing a hat which had been encircled by a plait and not by a ribbon. He had had a long neck. He had complained to the man standing next to him about the continual jostling which the latter had been inflic ting on him. As soon as he had noticed a vacant seat, said Dr. Queneau, the young man had rushed off towards it and sat down upon it.

He had seen him later, Dr. Queneau continued, in front of the gare Saint‑Lazare. He had been wearing an overcoat, and a friend who had happened to be present had made a remark to him to the effect that he ought to put an extra button on the said overcoat.

It was midday. The bus was being got into by passengers. They were being squashed together. A hat was being worn on the head of a young gentleman, which hat was encircled by a plait and not by a ribbon. A long neck was one of the characteristics of the young gentleman. The man standing next to him was being grumbled at by the latter because of the jostling which was being inflicted on him by him. As soon as a vacant seat was espied by the young gentleman it was made the object of his precipitate movements and it become sat down upon.

The young gentleman was later seen by me in front of the gare Saint‑Lazare. He was clothed in an overcoat and was having a remark made to him by a friend who happened to be there to the effect that it was necessary to have an extra button put on it.

Midnight. It’s raining. The buses go by nearly empty. On the bonnet of an AI near the Bastille, an old man whose head is sunk in his shoulders and who isn’t wearing a hat thanks a lady sitting a long way away from him because she is stroking his hands. Then he goes to stand on the knees of a man who is still sitting down.

Two hours earlier, behind the gare de Lyon, this old man was stopping up his ears so as not to hear a tramp who was refusing to say that he should slightly lower the bottom button on his underpants.

After a stinking wait in the vile sun I finally got into a filthy bus where a bunch of bastards were squashed together. The most bastardly of these bastards was a pustulous creature with a ridiculously long windpipe who was sporting a grotesque hat with a cord instead of a ribbon. This pretentious puppy started to create because an old bastard was pounding his plates with senile fury, but soon he climbed down and made off in the direction of an empty seat that was still damp with the sweat of the buttocks of its previous owner.

Two hours later, my unlucky day, I came upon the same bastard holding forth with another bastard in front of that nauseating monument they call the gare Saint‑Lazare. They were yammering about a button. Whether he has his furuncle raised or lowered, I said to myself, he’ll still be just as lousy, the dirty bastard.



Raymond Queneau’s ‘Arithmétique’

Raymond QUENEAU – Un siècle d’écrivains : 1903–1976 (DOCUMENTAIRE, 1995)

Raymond Queneau à propos de “Zazie dans le métro”

Entretien avec Raymond Queneau 1950

Mort de Raymond Queneau


Oulipo Compendium (excerpts)
Queneau quotes
Queneau’s uptopian dream worlds


Some Other Books

Hundred Thousand Billion Poems

Raymond Queneau’s Hundred Thousand Billion Poems or One hundred million million poems, published in 1961, is a set of ten sonnets. They are printed on card with each line on a separated strip, like a heads-bodies-and-legs book. As all ten sonnets have not just the same rhyme scheme but the same rhyme sounds, any lines from a sonnet can be combined with any from the nine others, so that there are 100,000,000,000,000 different poems. It would take some 200,000,000 years to read them all, even reading twenty-four hours a day. In 1997, a French court decision outlawed the publication on the Internet of this poem. The court decided that the son of Queneau and the Gallimard editions possessed an exclusive and moral right on this poem, thus outlawing any publication of it on the Internet and possibility for the reader to play Queneau’s interactive game of poem construction. However, two online interactive versions do exist.

Stanley Chapman’s version
Bevrowe’s version
Buy the book



Saint Glinglin (Dalkey Archive) Queneau has created a world, starting with its banalities: the cliches, the tired small talk, the outdated prejudices, the little points of pride. This world, Home Town, is settled in its ways under perpetually blue skies and under the guidance of Nabonidus, its proud mayor. But the mayor’s children, all corrupted by influences from Foreign Town, turn against both their father and the traditional ways. To say any more about the plot is to imply that there really is one. Like all of Queneau’s books, this is much about language, both dry experimentation (the entire book is a lipogram–there are no X s) and full of neologisms and quirky style. — PW


The Blue Flowers (New Directions) The Blue Flowers is the most lovable of all Raymond Queneau’s novels. It relates two paralell narratives (or rather – and Queneau is the great mathematical novelist! – base and perpendicular narratives): the historical narrative of the endearingly aggressive Duc d’Auge, nay-sayer to royal authority and public opinion, friend of Gilles de Rais and the Marquis de Sade, and debunker of religion to the extent of daubing on caves in the Perigord region to ‘prove’ the existence of humanity before Adam; his three daughters, including the defective, bleating Phelise, and their small-minded spouses; his squire Mouscaillot and their talking horses, philosophical Demosthenes and taciturn Stef; and his clerical foils, the abbes Biroton and Riphinte. — Darragh O’Donoghue


Zazie dans le Metro (Penguin) Raymond Queneau has written a strange but tantalizing little novel about an adolescent named Zazie… she has a New York accent, and the mouth of a Henry Miller. Her misadventures in Paris, prove challenging to those around her,and amusing to the reader. It’s a collage of seemimgly misplaced dialogue and eccentric characters, yet is easy to read and laugh with. Zazie is less of a labyrinth and more of a amusement park, a good introduction to this imaginative writer. — Allen Greenbaum


We Always Treat Women too Well (NYRB) We Always Treat Women Too Well was first published as a purported work of pulp fiction by one Sally Mara, but this novel by Raymond Queneau is a further manifestation of his sly, provocative, wonderfully wayward genius. Set in Dublin during the 1916 Easter rebellion, it tells of a nubile beauty who finds herself trapped in the central post office when it is seized by a group of rebels. But Gertie Girdle is no common pushover, and she quickly devises a coolly lascivious strategy by which, in very short order, she saves the day for king and country. Queneau’s wickedly funny send-up of cheap smut—his response to a popular bodice-ripper of the 1940s—exposes the link between sexual fantasy and actual domination while celebrating the imagination’s power to transmute crude sensationalism into pleasure pure and simple.


The Flight of Icarus (New Directions) Hubert, a writer, has lost the main character to the novel he is, well was, writing. After viciously accusing friends and fellow writers of stealing Icarus, he hires the detective Morcol, “who has appeared in many novels under different names,” to find him. Soon we meet Icarus, who is only 15 pages old and on his own in 1890 Paris, and begin to see the formation from what Hubert designed, to a real character through his first experience with absinthe, his girlfriend LN, his love of automobiles and bicycles, and his love of flying machines. — Jeff O. —-





p.s. Hey. My GIF work for Artforum ‘7 Days’ is now complete, and if you want to see the whole thing, this link will take you there, although I think the link will only work for the next day or so. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. I remember Danny Sommers. An old friend of mine is married to one of the big twink porn stars of the 1980s era, Jamie Wingo. I’m sure you saw or have that massive issue of Little Caesar guest-edited by Gerard Malanga that contains a rather vast section about Heliczer. ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi. Best of luck hitting your Saturday deadline. You sound like you’re pretty squared away. My muse is avoiding me at the moment, so I’m happy to lend it/him/her/them to you for the duration. ** Dominik, Hi!!! Yeah, I suspect that Axl looking the part was just a rumor generator, but who knows. I’m no fan whatsoever of this strict quarantine on a personal level, but I think it’s wise, and signs are that it is making a real difference, so, yeah, it does seem like a tactic other countries should probably take. So this is the first time you guys have free-styled in writing only? How did it go? I remember that movie ‘Primal Fear’. Edward Norton seemed like he was going to be such an amazing actor based on how he was in it, but that didn’t really work out. That happens: a new actor kind of blows it all out, talent-wise, in one or two initial roles, and then what they do becomes familiar, and that excitement and surprise is gone. Yesterday … took a long walk disguised as a trip to a far flung supermarket. Talked to Zac for the first time in days. He’s fine, antsy, dealing, like me, like all of us. As I may have mentioned yesterday, I don’t remember, we made it to the finals for a CNC funding grant for our new film. Normally that would mean going before a committee to be grilled about the project, but, under the circumstances, we have to shoot a short video of us explaining why we want/need/deserve the funding and send it to them, so we have to do that soon. Jean-Luc Godard did a live instagram show/talk on Wednesday, and I watched a replay of that, and it was great. I tried to write, didn’t go well. Not much else. Bleah. Maybe today will surprise me. How did you spend yours, pal? Love that used to  pack stadiums in the good old days, Dennis. ** Bill, Hi. Yeah, power couples, those four. I have no idea what Glove is up to. He popped in here out of the blue maybe 5 years ago, said hello, and then vanished again. I kind of hoped he might be out there keeping one eye on the blog and might see his thing reposted and say hey, but not yet anyway. The Var vocalist was Elias from Ice Age. I loved Var, but they only existed for about a year. The title of Zac’s my first film, ‘Like Cattle Towards Glow’, is a lyric from a Var song. Do alert me to the rerun of that gig, yes, definitely. By 1 a.m. I am a zero covered with a blanket. ** Jeffrey Coleman, Hey, Jeff! I was hoping you’d see that repost. Thanks again, man.  And Ohle was apparently very excited about it. And happy birthday! You good? Those were some real odds right there, yeah. Take care buddy. ** Jeff J, I figured you must have known about the Derrida/Coleman talk. Yeah, it’s amazing, right? Holy moly. As I was saying to David E., one issue of Little Caesar that was guest-edited by Gerard Malanga had a giant section about Heliczer, and there were a bunch of poems by him in there. I bought the book of his poems that was put out some years ago. They’re quite wild and colorful and cool. I think Luther Price’s films in general are quite interesting. So check out a random sampling. I assumed Michael would be Bookworm-ing by phone right now. I’m happy to hear he’s doing well. I have not read that Maggie Nelson. Is that her new book? Huh, I’ll go see what it is. I don’t know anything about it. Thanks! ** Steve Erickson, Cool you saw that Jodie Mack film. So terrific, right? She’s great. You read that Black Crowes member’s memoir! Now that’s a curious move on your part. That said, I’ve been feeling this itch to read the bio/book about 10cc, ‘Worst Band in the World’, although I do really like them even if I haven’t listened to them in ages. No, I didn’t know about that Fox anchor turned porn star. Now that’s a horse of a different color. ** Misanthrope, You rambunctious American will deal with the plague the way you will, but I feel pretty confident that we sticklers for the lock down over here are going to get through this thing faster and cleaner than you are. But we will see. Unfortunately, readers like being told things. That’s why mainstream lit is 85% garbage. Congrats on the refund. Don’t spend it all on masks and hand sanitiser. ** Right. The blog does its thing vis-a-vis that wild man of French letters Raymond Queneau today, so why not settle in, scroll and press, and enjoy the show. See you tomorrow.


  1. David Ehrenstein

    Raymond Queneau proves it’s possible to be erudite and hilarious at the same time.

    I used to have a copy of that massive Malanga issue of “Little Caesar” Alas it’s lost.

  2. Tosh Berman

    Queneau rules. And he had such an amazing career in writing – from the Surrealists to Boris Vian era. One of my literary heroes that’s for sure.

  3. Sypha

    Ah, I read EXERCISES IN STYLE way back in 2008, the 1st year I began keeping my reading lists. I’m sure I discovered it through your Top 50 list at that time, Dennis. I should give it a reread one day, I recall finding it quite delightful… I like that it was an experimental book but it also had a sense of playfulness to it.

    Right now I’m almost done Delany’s AYE, AND GOMORRAH short story collection (very good) and I’m also reading Freud’s INTERPRETATION OF DREAMS, which I started yesterday… as you know I’ve read a lot of Jung but no Freud, and I’ve been curious to read this one for years, what with J.G. Ballard and large swatches of the old Surrealist movement being professed fans.

  4. _Black_Acrylic

    Raymond Queneau seems a whole lot of fun. Malle’s Zazie in the Underground is available for streaming, so I’ll see if my folks can be talked round to that for some lockdown viewing.

    There’s some exciting TV on tonight as Limmy’s Homemade Show returns. I thought his 2018 pilot was unadulterated genius and am thrilled the BBC have commissioned another 3 episodes. A brief sketch from the new series has been posted here on YouTube.

  5. Dominik


    I really loved your 7-part GIF work series on Artforum!! I don’t know if the 1st or the 4th day was my favorite. Congratulations!!

    Yes, I agree. We’re pretty much light years from there and we’ll suffer the consequences accordingly.
    We’re free-styling a lot in writing but there are those free-style ideas that just demand real “acting” and this is one of them. It’s great so far, I mean we manage to keep up the rhythm and the quality, but I still have the nagging feeling that it’d be even better if we could role-play it. We’ve tried free-styling once on Skype but it was horrible because of the constant lagging (both my webcam and internet connection are kind of shitty) so we’re not going there with this one.
    Now that you said that about Edward Norton, I realized I haven’t seen ANY of his newer or even semi-new films! I’ve only seen him in American History X, Fight Club and now Primal Fear and I loved him in all three of them. I’ll need to investigate further to form an opinion. This is really strange.
    You haven’t mentioned the CNC funding grant! Congratulations! Oh, I’ll keep my fingers crossed so tightly for you! How do you feel about this video version instead of talking in front of a live committee? And how are you gonna do it? Are you gonna meet up with Zac in person or is there absolutely no way to do that at this point?
    Jean-Luc Godard’s body of work is also something I’d like to explore and haven’t gotten around to do so just yet for some reason. Do you have any suggestions where to start?
    I’m sorry your muse deserted you – mine isn’t really around today either. I do hope your day was at least okay but preferably even great, though! Was it?

    Sassy teenage love, D.

  6. Bill

    Hope the CNC grant process goes well, Dennis. Fingers crossed for you and Zac.

    I really need to read Queneau’s Exercises. I checked out the Icarus book a few years ago, but this sounds very different.

    I know we’re all getting tired of this lockdown thing, but I can’t see this loosening up for a few more weeks. I was just reading the news about how in Hong Kong for example, once they loosened up the guidelines, people flocked to the beach. Umm, I’m sure that doesn’t help with managing our lockdown schedule. I hope your Switch is on its way at least?

    Here’s the URL on the live streaming noise gig on Sunday:

    The flyer is a bit mysterious, but the gig starts Sunday around 5pm Pacific time (7pm Central). Duo set by Sharkiface and Marlo Eggplant, then duo set by Peter J Woods and myself, and a longer set by the quartet.

    Apparently previous gigs are archived, but they’re a bit hard to get to on the site. I’ll try to figure out a less cryptic way to access after the weekend.

    I’ve been enjoying your Artforum piece. Are all the images found online and minimally manipulated, as I understand for your previous GIF pieces? Some of the image pairs do seem to have strong connections in content and rhythm. And I do like the split into smaller subsections, with the whole not being visible at one time, for a day-to-day viewing.


  7. Bill

    Another one: Richard Teitelbaum RIP. Sigh.


  8. Steve Erickson

    Managing my anxiety just gets harder and harder. When I went out to buy groceries this morning, this city seemed painfully bleak. (At the grocery store, I thought “where did this all these people come from?,” because I didn’t see them on the street heading there.) I went for a walk in the afternoon, mostly to see if I could buy more face masks (whose price keeps going up and up), and that went better.

    I now have a link to Spike Jonze’s BEASTIE BOYS STORY but I need someone at Apple to grant me permission to watch it. I just watched a 2004 Beasties concert from Amsterdam in preparation. That was fun.

  9. Steve Erickson

    A few other things: here’s a link to a massive file drop of films by the Japanese director Nobuhiko Obayashi, who brought us HOUSE and passed away today:

    Have you heard Nnamdi’s BRAT? It has a post-genre fluency, mixing hip-hop, pop and indie rock that remind me of Tyler the Creator’s past 2 albums, but he’s far more jittery and playful, changing moods constantly within songs. The sentiments of “It’s OK” (“there’s no need to pretend”/”it’s OK that you’re not OK”) sum up this moment very well.

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