The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Spotlight on … Amos Tutuola The Palm-Wine Drinkard (1952)


‘Published in 1952, the Nigerian author Amos Tutuola’s The Palm-Wine Drinkard tells the story of a man who is such a dedicated drunk that when his personal palm-wine tapster dies, cutting off his supply, he goes on a quest into the bush to find the Dead’s Town and bring the man back. The bush is the bush of Yoruban folklore, populated by an array of dangerous spirits, ghosts, and gods, but our hero has his own juju and an unassailable self-belief; asked his name, he replies glibly: ‘Father of gods who could do anything in this world’.

‘The book is written in Tutuola’s idiosyncratic Yoruban English, and the language travels unpredictably through various registers, routinely violating conventional grammar to both comedic and poetic effect. The plot is full of surreal wit; in a typical episode, the drinkard and his wife find a colossal white tree in the bush, which they enter through a door. They would normally find this terrifying, but ‘before we entered inside the white tree, we had “sold our death” to somebody at the door for the sum of £70: 18: 6d and “lent our fear” to somebody at the door as well on interest of £3: 10: 0d per month, so we did not care about death and we did not fear again.’ On departing from the tree, they retrieve their fear, but the buyer of their death refuses to part with it. After that, they know they can’t die, and whenever something menaces them, the wife says: ‘This is only fear for the heart but not dangerous to the heart.’

The Palm-Wine Drinkard has always been beloved by readers, but its reception by critics has been at best uneven. After Dylan Thomas lauded it, other Western intellectuals felt compelled to read it, only to dismiss it as ‘primitive,’ ‘naive,’ and ‘barbaric.’ Meanwhile many African intellectuals felt its ungrammatical English, tales of spirits, and unapologetic celebration of boozing played into the worst European stereotypes of African people. There has been an enduring unwillingness to admit that any merit in the book is the result of Tutuola’s abilities as a writer. On its first publication, the New York Times called its style ‘unwilled’ and said the interest of the text had ‘nothing to do with its author’s intentions.’ Forty-five years later, the author Michael Swanwick wrote in an obituary of Tutuola: ‘I do not know if Amos Tutuola was a literary genius or merely a conduit for the storytelling genius of his people.’ Even Nigerians have often been cautious about the merits of the book; the writer Nnedi Okorafor, while admiring it, also denigrates its style, saying, ‘I don’t see it as a style, I see it as Tutuola’s English not being strong (it wasn’t his first language) and him needing an editor.’

‘While not wishing to make assumptions about Amos Tutuola’s state of mind in the early 1950s, my impression has always been that he has his own very deliberate aesthetic – one that owes a debt both to the Yoruba language and oral storytelling – and tuning into it can enrich our idea of what a literary style can be. And regardless of whether you attribute the success of the book to Tutuola’s genius or just to the richness of Yoruban folklore, it’s an undeniably amazing read: bizarre, exquisite, consistently hilarious, and at once lighthearted and profound.’ — Sandra Newman



Amos Tutuola @ Wikipedia
The Palm-Wine Drinkard @ goodreads
African science fiction: rereading The Palm-wine Drinkard
The Natural Artist: Publishing Amos Tutuola’s “The Palm-Wine Drinkard” in Postwar Britain
Amos Tutuola: Debts and Assets
The Palm Wine Drinkard : a Reassessment of Amos Tutuola
On (Not) Defining ‘The African’: Amos Tutuola’s The Palm-Wine Drinkard
I was a palm-wine drinkard since I was a boy of ten years of age.
The Palm-wine Drinkard @ Spike Magazine
Africanism: Theme, And Technique In Amos Tutuola’s The Palmwine Drinkard
Amos Tutuola and the Elusiveness of Completeness
Writing body in amos tutuola’s the palm-wine drinkard
Non-Realism in The Palm-Wine Drinkard
Amos Tutuola and the Colonial Carnival
Out of Abeokuta; Amos Tutuola’s only poem
‘The Palm-Wine Drinkard’ @ Dead End on Progressive Ave.
Buy ‘The Palm-Wine Drinkard’





The Palm Wine Drinkard – Amos Tutuola BOOK REVIEW

Amos Tutuola and the Gendering of Peace in Africa

Amos Tutuola: The Palm-Wine Drinkard| Nigerian Writers| Postcolonialism




We first of all thank you, sir, for granting us this interview.
Thank you.

We learnt you have not been well for some time. Hope you are okay now?
I thank God.

Apart from your illness, you’ve been rather quiet now for some time. What’s been happening?
You mean about writing another book?

Well, you know, my policy is that when I finish working on a book, and it is published, I always hesitate to lay hands on another book because I always [have to] think, go out collecting materials here and there, and then sit down, think both day and night. That is why it takes a long time before I write the next book.

Sir, you just said you were collecting material for other books. Where do you collect these materials?
From my village, or villages around my village.

In what form? Do you interview people? How do you collect stories?
You know that nothing goes for nothing nowadays. Before, I didn’t give anything to them, when I invited them at night during the leisure hours after the day’s work. In those days, there was nothing to amuse people, like radio, television and so forth, except to tell tales at night. Well, I invited people together – this papa, the brother, and so on – to tell me some tales. They started. When one finishes his own, another would start, and so on. [Then] I gathered the stories together.

With a tape recorder?
No, no, no! There was nothing like a tape recorder then. Just listening. I may listen up to six or eight stories. When they went to sleep, I put on light and then start to write them down from the brain. That is why I have got soot on my eye.

Okay, what about now?
Now, as I did now (i.e. recently), it is with money and drink. I bought some ogogoro and palm wine, then in the form of telling them what is happening in the town… Later I produce…

But I thought [by now] you must have heard all the stories available in Yorubaland?
In Yoruba? Er… no…

Do you still collect new stories then?
Of course, still. But many of them tell me those which I already heard and written down. It is a sort of repetition, but that one I don’t take as anything because I have already got that one in hand… but it is very difficult to get proper folk tales now.

Well, you know, I think this civilization has affected everything.

In what way?
The people don’t mind to tell tales any more. So they have no interest in telling tales. Instead of that, they listen to radio, to television. They play tapes and so on.

But they all know you, don’t they?
They know me. Why?

If you call them now, they know it is for a story?
It is for a story, yes. But really, if they tell me about ten, may be only two of them would be okay and it may be in the form a small boy, who wouldn’t mind….

Do you, therefore, modify those stories, or do you use them exactly as they tell you?
Thank you. When I want to use a folktale, Yoruba folktale is the main material I use in my stories. Then second, Yoruba proverbs… Third, Yoruba religion; I use it in my stories. [Fourth] I use Yoruba beliefs. Then jokes. After, I add my own self-imaginations, and my imaginations are those of Yoruba.

Well, I was going to ask those questions later. I thought maybe we should finish with the personal details first… So, what I’d like to know is, what has kept you going since then?
Well, you know, just as, for example, if someone has started to drink bit by bit, or is following a drunkard, and then he too started to take bit by bit, later it would become his habit. Well, I started storytelling from school. Later, when I read several books about stories, that gave me inspiration to write my own. I write it first, then dumped it somewhere. Later, when that one was published, I saw the fame it gave me, and that encouraged me to continue.

And have you been satisfied with the fame and success…?
Am always happy about the fame it gave me, my writing.

But it seems that, when the fame came, it was not from the country itself? Seems as if your fame was largely from the outside?…
From abroad…

Yes, how did you feel about that?
That they don’t take it serious, or that they don’t pay much interest in my own country? Well, in those days, we were not serious about our own things, but we were much interested in white man’s things. So, immediately the white man recognized my work, I was more interested. So it did not give me much headache that my people, my own country, did not take my work so serious.

But what is the situation now? Do you feel now that nowadays they take it seriously in the country? Is there a change from when you first started?
Well, gradually my people here started, I think… I don’t know whether [it’s because] when they go overseas, they see my book there, and when they return… I know, …what I know is that my people, our people here, are now interested in my book bit by bit, because in so many universities now they use my books.

That is very good. Still, going on the personal side, what do you actually do now for a living? Is it this writing?
Not at all! Well, I am a farmer [laughter]. As Jare knows, I work hard on the farm because, you know, I was born by a farmer and we were trained how to do farming.

I was wondering, does that farming, does it come into your writing?
It does not affect my writing.

You don’t get ideas when you are on the farm?
When I am working on the farm, ehn, that’s why I say my own imagination comes from my mind. Having collected stories, then the religious shade, the type of religion which I will add to the story, the views of Yoruba people and so on – then the imagination of the society worry me… but working on, singing and so on, then it would come to my mind bit by bit.

Where is your farm, sir?
It is around Ibadan here.

What things do you plant?
I plant yams, cassava, maize, pepper and so on.

So that’s what you live on?
Yes. I don’t eat any… Sometimes even if it has pepper, I don’t eat it. I don’t eat cassava…er, garri. I don’t eat yam…

So what do you eat?
I eat this, er, semovita, when it was available [in the market]. And now I just take small bread and tea. That is all right.

And that has been since your childhood?
Never, never; if I did not eat eba twice a day, I don’t think I would… I would not, in fact, be happy!

So what happened?
Before I left it? And pepper… When I returned from farm, I eat pepper, make garri elepo, then put pepper, raw pepper, and eat it first before I make eba in those days. What then made me stop eating all these things is that I developed ulcer, for several years now.

So, how do you find the time to write, sir?
You know, in the daytime I cannot sit down and write, except to go to farm. When I return in the evening, by seven, then whatever I get for food…I eat my food in the night. After that, when the whole people in the house sleep, I start to write.

Till when?
Till sometimes 3 o’clock or 4 o’clock.

Do you sleep in the afternoon then?
I do, I do. When I return from the farm by 1pm, I take my bath, then I eat… drink my ogi, then after, I sleep till 4pm. Then I go to farm again.

Which do you like better now, farming or writing?
I prefer both the same. I have the same interest in both.

Some people want to entertain; some people say they want to teach. What is your own aim in writing?
Before I started to write, abi? Er… it is a sort of amusement for me. Writing is an amusement for me. Though we all need money, em… as for me – I don’t know if it’s for all people or artists, er… — I have more interest in writing than to get money on it. If get money, it is all right; if I don’t, I don’t mind, and that does not disturb me to write another.

When you want to write, when you’ve already constructed the story in your mind, [and] you want to put your pen to the paper…your aim at that time, is it to educate people, to say that this is the kind of thing, the kind of story we have in our land, so I want you to know it? Or are there certain morals which you want to teach through that story? Or you just feel like writing, and you just write? Or is it a combination of these things?
Oh yes, em…now…we know, er, certain musicians, like Sunny Ade, Ebenezer Obey… when they start to play their music, they want all people to enjoy it. That is how it is for me. I want people to enjoy what I do. That is what forces me. And I am happy that if the thing I do the people like it, are happy to see it, they will appreciate it. So that gives me much encouragement.

So you want people to be happy.
Happy, yes.

So you are not writing, as some people do, because they want to correct something in the society?
I don’t mean to do that for my own people here, but abroad. [I want] foreign people to know that we too have something in our own country… our culture…

The reason I am asking is that we think that writing can play a role in the society, say, for instance, as there are problems in the country now…like, say, poverty, or some people are hungry… some writers think that if they write about it, they can make people aware of what is happening, and may be help them to find a solution, and all that. Do you ever find yourself writing in that kind of way?
No, I don’t have such aim. I don’t write about the present things, but I always write about the past, about what has happened in the past to our people.

How do you feel about using the English language for your stories?
That gives me a lot of problem, but I don’t bother much about that. I always have Yoruba/English dictionary, which I look at when I want to use language in English… I open it, and then find the English which I will use for the story. So that helps me a lot. In fact, I have much problem when I am writing in English.

What is your attitude to European culture then?
Well, when my eye opened, I preferred my own culture. I keep to my own culture. You know, I have thrown away shirts and trousers… I don’t say European culture is bad on our own, but we have kept to it, thrown away our own too much. But now we have come to our senses and we have realised that we have lost something important which we had.

You said just now you have thrown away shirts and trousers, and prefer Yoruba attire. But when you were younger, that was what you wore?…
Well, in those days, I would never to put on buba and soro, or native dresses. No, no, never! Those who wore it in those days, we would call ara oke – bush man… [laughter].

At what point then did you change your attitude?
Well, as soon as my second or third book was published and the African Congress, the meeting… the year we got our independence (in 1960). Yes, as soon as we got our independence.

Did this have any effect on you in your place of work?
When I wear…? Not at all. Even when I travel to overseas I wear my own dress, and I see that even many of them come to me to touch it… and are surprised to see adire and our aso oke…

Okay. Anyway, we shall be coming to your travels abroad later. But let’s consider another issue first. You are one of our foremost writers. I am wondering – what is your relationship with other writers? Do you have any relationship with other writers at all in Nigeria?
In Nigeria? I can mention Achebe. Though I don’t move with them too much because of distance, but I take their work very serious as I take my own and I appreciate their work as I appreciate my own.

But you don’t have any personal relationship with them at all? With Achebe, Soyinka, Clark?… You don’t go to visit them?
No. We meet on occasions, then we embrace each other and so on.

What of Yoruba writers? What about the state government?

The Federal Government?
Not at all.

So who, or let me say, what institution, has helped you most in your career?
Well, I can say, my publisher.

But these are the people who were not paying you…?
Well, that is why I say that if I write in order to make money, I would have stopped writing!

Talking about your writing again, do you see any influence from other writers – Achebe, Soyinka, etc – on your writing?
No, no influence.

But you see the influence of your own work on theirs?
No, I don’t see… That’s why I don’t read English novel so much, because I don’t want to have any influence which can inspire, to give a foreign inspiration.



Amos Tutuola The Palm-Wine Drinkard

‘This classic novel tells the phantasmagorical story of an alcoholic man and his search for his dead palm-wine tapster. As he travels through the land of the dead, he encounters a host of supernatural and often terrifying beings – among them the complete gentleman who returns his body parts to their owners and the insatiable hungry-creature. Mixing Yoruba folktales with what T. S. Eliot described as a ‘creepy crawly imagination’, The Palm-Wine Drinkard is regarded as the seminal work of African literature.’ — faber

‘Brief, thronged, grisly and bewitching.’ — Dylan Thomas

‘Tutuola’s art conceals – or rather clothes – his purpose, as all good art must do.’ — Chinua Achebe


Now we started our journey from the Deads’ Town directly to my home town which I had left for many years. As we were going on this road, we met over a thousand deads who were just going to the Deads’ Town and if they saw us coming towards them on that road, they would branch into the bush and come back to the road at our back. Whenever they saw us, they would be making bad noise which showed us that they hated us and also were very annoyed to see alives. These deads were not talking to one another at all; even they were not talking plain words except murmuring. They always seemed as if they were mourning, their eyes would be very wild and brown and every one of them wore white clothes without a single stain.


We met about 400 dead babies on that road who were singing the song of mourning and marching to Deads’ Town at about two o’clock in the mid-night and marching towards the town like soldiers, but these dead babies did not branch into the bush as the adult-deads were doing if they met us, all of them held sticks in their hands. But when we saw that these dead babies did not care to branch for us then we stopped at the side for them to pass peacefully, but instead of that, they started to beat us with the sticks in their hands, then we began to run away inside the bush from these babies, although we did not care about any risk of that bush which might happen to us at night, because these dead babies were the most fearful creatures for us. But as we were running inside the bush very far off that road, they were still chasing us until we met a very huge man who had hung a very large bag on his shoulder and at the same time that he met us, he caught us (my wife and myself) inside the bag as a fisherman catches fishes inside his net. But when he caught us inside his bag, then all of the dead babies went back to the road and went away. As that man caught us with that bag, we met inside it many other creatures there which I could not describe here yet, so he was taking us far away into the bush. We tried with all our power to come out of the bag, but we could not do it, because it was woven with strong and thick ropes, its size was about 150 feet diameter and it could contain 45 persons. He put the bag on his shoulder as he was going and we did not know where he was taking us to by that night and again we did not know who was taking us away, whether he was a human-being or spirit or if he was going to kill us, we never knew yet at all.


We were afraid of touching the other creatures that we met inside that bag, because every part of their bodies was as cold as ice and hairy and sharp as sand-paper. The air of their noses and mouths was hot as steam, none of them talked inside the bag. But as that man was carrying us away inside the bush with the bag on his shoulder the bag was always striking trees and ground but he did not care or stop, and he himself did not talk too. As he was carrying us far away into that bush, he met a creature of his kind, then he stopped and they began to throw the bag to and fro and they would take it up again and continue. After a while they stopped that, then he kept going as before, but he travelled as far as 30 miles from that road before daybreak.


Hard to salute each other, harder to describe each other, and hardest to look at each other at our destination. When it was 8 o’clock in the morning, this huge creature stopped when he reached his destination, and turned upside-down the bag and the whole of us in the bag came down unexpectedly. It was in that place that we saw that there were 9 terrible creatures in that bag before he caught us. Then we saw each other when we came down, but the nine terrible creatures were the hardest creatures for us to look at, then we saw the huge creature who was carrying us about in the bush throughout that night, he was just like a giant, very huge and tall, his head resembled a big pot of about ten feet in diameter, there were two large eyes on his forehead which were as big as bowls and his eyes would be turning whenever he was looking at somebody. He could see a pin at a distance of about three miles. His both feet were very long and thick as a pillar of a house, but no shoes could size his feet in this world. The description of the 9 terrible creatures in the bag is as follows. These 9 terrible creatures were short or 3 feet high, their skin as sharp as sand-paper with small short horns on their palms, very hot steam was rushing out of their noses and mouths whenever breathing, their bodies were as cold as ice and we did not understand their language, because it was sounding as a church bell. Their hands were thick about 5 inches and very short, with fingers, and also their feet were just like blocks. They had no shape at all like human-beings or like other bush-creatures that we met in the past, their heads were covered with a kind of hair like sponge. Though they were very smart while walking, of course their feet would be sounding on either hard or soft ground as if somebody was walking over or knocking a covered deep hole. Rut immediately we came down with them from the bag and when my wife and I myself saw these terrible creatures, we closed our eyes, because of their terrible and fearful appearance. After a while, the huge creature carried us to another place, opened a rise-up hill which was in that place, he told the whole of us to enter it, then he followed us and closed the hole back, we not knowing that he would not kill us but he had only captured us as slaves. When we entered the hole, there we met other more fearful creatures who I could not describe here. So when it was early in the morning, he took us out of the hole and showed us his farm to clear as the other more fearful creatures we met in the hole were doing. As I was working with these nine creatures in the farm, one day, one of them abused me with their language which I did not understand, then we started to fight, but when the rest saw that I wanted to kill him, then the whole of them started to fight me one by one. I killed the first one who faced me, then the second came and I killed him too, so I killed all of them one by one until the last one came who was their champion. When I started to fight him, he began to scrape my body with his sand-paper body and also with small thorns on his palms, so that every part of my body was bleeding. But I tried with all my power to knock him down and I was unable to as I could not grip him firmly with my hands, so he knocked me down and I fainted. Of course, I could not die because we had sold our death away. I did not know that my wife hid herself behind a big tree which was near the farm and that she was looking at us as we were fighting.

As there remained only the champion of the nine terrible creatures, when he saw that I had fainted, he went to a kind of plant and cut 8 leaves on it. But my wife was looking at him by that time. Then he came back to his people. After that, he squeezed the leaves with both his palms until water came out, then he began to put the water into the eyes of his people one by one and the whole of them woke up at once and all of them went to our boss (the huge creature who brought us to that place) to report what had happened in the farm to him. But at the same time that they left the farm, my wife went to that plant and cut one leaf and did as the champion did to his people, and when she pressed the water in that leaf to my eyes, then I woke up at once. As she had managed to take our loads before she left that hole and followed us to the .farm, we escaped from that farm and before the nine terrible creatures reached the hole of our boss, we had gone far away. That was how we were saved from the huge creature who caught us in his bag.

As we had escaped, we were travelling both day and night so that the huge creature might not re-capture us again. When we travelled for two and half days, we reached the Deads’ road from which dead babies drove us, and when we reached there, we could not travel on it because of fearful dead babies, etc. which were still on it.


Then we began to travel inside the bush, but closely to the road, so that we might not be lost in the bush again.

When we had travelled for two weeks, I began to see the leaves which were suitable for the preparation of my juju, then we stopped and prepared four kinds which could save us whenever and wherever we met any dangerous creature.

As I had prepared the juju, we did not fear anything which might happen to us inside the bush and we were travelling both day and night as we liked. So one night, we met a “hungry- creature” who was always crying “hungry” and as soon as that he saw us, he was coming to us directly. When he was about five feet away from us, we stopped and looked at him, because I had got some juju in hand already and because I remembered that we had sold our death before entering inside the white tree of the Faithful- Mother, and so I did not care about approaching him. But as he was coming towards us, he was asking us repeatedly whether we had anything for him to eat and by that time we had only bananas which were not ripe. We gave him the bananas but he swallowed all at the same moment and began to ask for another thing to eat again and he did not stop crying “hungry-hungry-hungry” once, but when we could not bear his crying, then we loosened our loads. Perhaps we could get another edible thing there to give him, but we found only a split bean and before we gave it to him, he had taken it from us and swallowed it without hesitation and began to cry “hungry-hungry-hungry” as usual. We did not know that this “hungry-creature” could not satisfy with any food in this world, and he might eat the whole food in this world, but he would be still feeling hungry as if he had not tasted anything for a year. But as we were searching our loads, as perhaps we could get something for him again, the egg which my tapster gave me in the Deads’ Town fell down from my wife. The hungry-creature saw it, and he wanted to take it and swallow but my wife was very clever to pick it up before him.

When he saw that he could not pick it up before my wife, then he began to fight her and he said that he wanted to swallow her. As this hungry-creature was fighting with my wife, he did not stop to cry “hungry” once. But when I thought within myself that he might harm us, then I performed one of my jujus and it changed my wife and our loads to a wooden-doll and I put it in my pocket. But when the hungry-creature saw my wife no more, he told me to bring out the wooden-doll for identification, so I brought it and he was asking me with doubtful mind, was this not my wife and loads? Then I replied that it was not my wife etc., but it only resembled her, so he gave the wooden-doll back to me, then I returned it to my pocket as before and I kept going. But he was following me as I was going on, and still crying “hungry.” Of course, I did not listen to him. When he-had travelled with me to a distance of about a milt‑, he asked me again to bring out the wooden-doll for more identification and I brought it out to him, then he looked at it for more than ten minutes and asked me again was this not my wife? I replied that it was not my wife etc. but it only resembled her, then he gave it to me back and I was going as usual, but he was still following me and crying “hungry” as well. When he had travelled with me again to about two miles, he asked for it for the third time and I gave it to him, but as he held it he looked at it more than an hour and said that this was my wife and he swallowed it unexpectedly. As he swallowed the wooden-doll, it meant he swallowed my wife, gun, cutlass, egg and load and nothing remained with me again, except my juju.

So immediately he had swallowed the wooden-doll, he was going far away from me and crying “hungry” as well. Now the wife was lost and how to get her back from the hungry-creature’s stomach? For the safety of an egg the wife was in hungry-creature’s stomach. As I stood in that place and was looking at him as he was going far away, I saw him go so far from me that I could hardly see him, then I thought that my wife, who had been following me about in the bush to Deads’ Town had not shrunk from any suffering, so I said that, she should not leave me like this and I would not leave her for the hungry-creature to carry away. So I followed, and when I met him I told him to vomit out the wooden-doll which he had swallowed, but he refused to vomit it out totally.


I said that, rather than leave my wife with him, I would die with him, so I began to fight him, but as he was not a human-being, he swallowed me too and he was still crying “hungry” and going away with us. As I was in his stomach, I commanded my juju which changed the wooden-doll back to my wife, gun, egg, cutlass and loads at once. Then I loaded the gun and fired into his stomach, but he walked for a few yards before he fell down, and I loaded the gun for the second time and shot him again. After that I began to cut his stomach with the cutlass, then we got out from his stomach with our loads etc. That was how we were freed from the hungry-creature, but I could not describe him fully here, because it was about 4 o’clock a.m. and that time was very dark too. So we left him safely and thanked God for that.




p.s. Hey. ** The Black Prince, Hi! Wow, you’re The Black Prince again. Suave. Thanks about the interview, pal. I like your haircut. How’s stuff? Hugs, me. ** Misanthrope, With this blog, I’ve learned not to take too many chances. I think maybe with some actors there’s this initial feeling that they’re going to be one of those very rare actors who mange to keep surprising you, but then you realise after a handful of movies that they only ever do what they do and you’ve already seen it. Not vaccinated, eh? Living up to your screen name, eh? ** tomk, Ha ha, no. No relationship. I made that post after I’d finished the ‘Swarm’. Too in love with your own concepts? That sounds like one lame-o editor, frankly. The novel sounds extremely interesting. I like that you’re working with a plot. Plot + peculiarities of style can = killer, obviously. Exciting, man. Yeah, huge, vibe-emitting encouragement from this head on this side of the pond. ** David Ehrenstein, Yes, that chateau’s owner deserves the Novel Prize for hosting. My friend Benjamin, who assigned us ‘Johnny Guitar’, was telling us about the epic on set feuding/hatred between Mercedes McCambridge and Crawford, and that was pretty wild. They don’t make them like Crawford anymore, I’ll give her that. ** Damien Ark, Hi. Nope, way, way too much rococo for the Marbled Swarm. If I were Walt Disney in 1953, I would build that chateau and give you an ‘E’ ticket. ** Sypha, My policy is to write what your excitement and enthusiasm and focus puts in front of you, whatever form it may take. So, if it’s stories, awesome. But of course I get you on the novel longing. ** Bill, Thanks. Kind of a perfect place to dream visit in these pandemic-y times. Oh, yeah, I was considering that Carrington too. Hm. How’s your week proceeding? ** Dominik, Hi!!! Thanks! Me too: a holiday there. If I ever write a will, which I guess I actually should do, eek, I’ll put it in writing that you are in charge of designing the clone of me that they send out on reading tours to entertain my bereft fanbase. I actually had a period long ago in which I loved cottage cheese. I used to pour catsup on it and gobble that down. I don’t know what that was about. So your love would work, and I’d just have to carry a catsup bottle around with me everywhere instead of Mace, which I suppose is doable. Love as a guy who watches that James Bond movie ‘Goldfinger’ and believes you can kill people just by painting them gold and becomes a wannabe serial killer who goes around painting cute people gold but of course it doesn’t work and instead starts a worldwide fad where people who think they’re cute paint themselves gold which of course has the unintended effect of making it possible to immediately identify people who are narcissists, G. ** Steve Erickson, I’ve heard that about Kanopy, and that’s a real drawback, but I know a lot of people, mostly in academia, who have it, and it’s a real boon even with those limitations. I totally get the freelance writing stress. Do those Patreon things actually work in terms of luring enough subscribers? I feel there are so many people doing that now. I think I only subscribe to one Patreon critical writing person, and he’s a friend who asked me to please subscribe. But maybe it does work. I mean I guess it must to some degree or people wouldn’t keep making accounts. I think the viewing problem must’ve been on your end because all the images I put there are there. ** Brendan, Hi, B! I know you’re a hard man to exhaust, so thank you. Got your Dodger tickets? ** Brian, Hi Brian! Thanks for taking a stroll through my dastardly doll house. Oops, sorry about the logic quiz crash. I’m sure it was the quiz’s fault. Good old ‘Persona’, nice. It’s sad that even the mere turning of gears turns out to be a chore here. I would have thought France would have that all figured out, but I guess that was my Francophilia thinking. Again, I’m so sorry to hear that it’s serious with your dog. That’s so hard. All of the dogs that I or my family had when I was growing up died tragically, and I swore off having a tight canine friend ever since. Imagine if we actually are swimming in riches by Friday! Wow! What’s the first thing you would use your newfound wealth to buy? ** Okay. Do y’all know the work of Amos Tutuola? If not, it’s exciting stuff, in my opinion. The novel I’m spotlighting today and also his novel ‘My Life in the Bush of Ghosts’ are probably his best. Anyway, I hope you enjoy the visit with his work whether he’s new to you or not. See you tomorrow.


  1. Misanthrope

    Dennis, Yeah, hahaha, the internet police are out there and ready to strike at any given moment for any perceived transgression. I’ve got friends on Facebook who’ve been suspended over putting up profile pics of just their faces and have had people who don’t like them report them for pornography. Totally weird and unfair but it happens to them.

    Well, I’m a healthy 49-year-old man at quite low risk and there are a lot of people in front of me who need the vaccine. We’ll see what happens as this goes along.

  2. Tosh Berman

    Thanks for the focus on Tutuola’s book. i have always heard of it, but not really aware of the book as well. And I find it fascinating that Raymond Queneau translated the book into French. Tutuola is on my reading list now.

  3. David Ehrenstein

    This writer is utterly new tome. Merci.

    They didn’t make em like Crwford THN. She’s sui generis in films as different as “Grand Hotel,” “The Bride Wore Red,” ” “Humoreque,” “Mildred Pierc,” “Whatever Hppened to Baby Jane” and of course “Trog”

  4. Jack Skelley

    Dennis – I love this! It goes anywhere and does anything. The headlines are crazy signposts. Pure multi-directional imagination MMMMagnification!! dream cave. Ultimate mental power and freedom and scares. I want to write something like this, but about an unusual car ride I took last week from someone calling themselves “Granny Uber.” Wuz so rad catching up! Please have an Ultimate Spinach week. luvz.

  5. The Black Prince

    Hi Dennis, I’m SO happy my haircut is DC-approved, you have no idea, that really excites moi. Stuff is good – end of lockdown here, book shops are open, sun is sort of out, and NGL it’s nice… I haven’t got my vaccine yet, but I’m not worried about this effin virus anymore… it will eff off, I can feel it. How is Paris treating you? I hope it’s treating you extremely well as it should. I need to do some tedious-but-stressful stuff re both my health and bureaucracy, but other than that, I feel on top of everything. I got a job interview with a good uni tomorrow, and if I get that, that’d be a significant improvement in my life. I think they want me, too, the only reason I might not get it is because they might want me to also teach drama as well as poetry and nonfiction, but as J said, I could probably ‘instinctively’ teach drama lol. Anyway, please send me some of your gorgeous vibes tomorrow so I won’t fuck up the interview. Big kiss Xxx

  6. Dominik


    That’d be a complete honor – to design your future clone! Though I do hope I only get to fill the post a very, very long time from now.

    Cottage cheese with ketchup? I’ve never tried that. I eat a lot of cottage cheese by itself, and people think that’s freaky, haha. Now, I need to try your version.

    Hahaha, shit, this is an EXTRA love; it’s hard to even keep up with it! Brilliant! Love drinking himself confident and painting himself gold only to swear never to leave his apartment again in the morning, Od.

  7. T

    Hello Dennis!

    I tried to send you a comment yesterday or the day before, but I think it was an issue on my end because I was typing it out on the coach back home to Manchester and the wifi was shitty. So, by way of response to the last time we spoke, I defo hear you with regards to manga seeming like this vast and impenetrable world. I don’t know whether you’ve been to Akihabara or Nakano Broadway in Tokyo (the two big anime/manga/merch selling districts – I’d say I prefer the latter but both are cool), when I visited I had this really weird but fascinating sense of being in this place where all these symbols and narratives and passions were so concentrated, kinda like going to a holy site of a religion you’ve never encountered before. Especially in Nakano Broadway, there’s loads of shops that just sell fanfics, and it’s really dizzying to look through them and see all these variations of characters and stories that you’re unfamiliar with in the first place. I’m really drawn to that kind of feeling though, which I guess links nicely with Amos Tutuola, since I’ve not really read any African literature at all to my embarrassment, and I was really fascinated in the differences in symbol and image choices between Euro-american and African diasporas, and the inheritance from Yoruba or Christian folklore and geography and that kind of thing. That said, diaspora aside I feel like one of the things that really excites me in any kind of fiction are symbolic languages which feel new or unfamiliar or provoking, and set up new resonances between objects and ideas.

    Lastly, I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed the GIF piece yesterday, and would like to add my name to the waiting list of people looking to book themselves in for a short but refreshing weekend break there! I wanted to ask about the interspersing of regular images and animated GIFs – was this something you adopted for this piece in particular? From what I’ve seen of your published GIF works, I seem to remember that they were GIFs all the way through, so I was wondering if you were going for that in particular for this piece…

    Speak soon, Tx

  8. Brendan

    I’m actually quite easy to exhaust these days, sadly. But yes! Planning to go one May 27 to see LA vs SF. The classic battle. So excited.

  9. Steve Erickson

    I got vaccine shot #2 today! My entire left arm feels like one sore muscle now.

    Reading Mark Fisher’s GHOSTS IN MY LIFE encouraged me to check out Goldie’s early singles, when he was working under the name Rufige Kru. I agree with Fisher that his official debut album TIMELESS was rather middlebrow – at the time, I thought he was trying to be the Moby of drum’n’bass – but the Rufige Kru singles are harsh and ferocious, really evocative of a decaying urban environment. (I have a list of other artists to look up from Fisher’s recommendations there.)

    I haven’t found any solutions to the issues I mentioned yesterday, but I got another assignment from Screen Slate, so that seems rather positive. I am trying to ask around about the practicalities of finding an audience for a Patreon page. I might set up something people can peruse for free with longer pieces that don’t fit neatly into genre categories, and see if that audience would be willing to pay down the road.

  10. Brian

    Hey, Dennis,

    I’m a big lover of spooky folklore and the oral tradition, so this book (new to me) sounds right up my alley—and beautifully written to boot. I must experience it soon. It’ll happen. The logic quiz crash is at least partially my fault—I need to be studying harder probably—but the whole thing is just so immensely baffling to me. I just need to pass at this point. Stress! I’ll admit, I’m sort of surprised France is turning slowly as well. I feel like—though I can’t articulate exactly why—typically they’re more on top of this type of situation than the usual disastrous mess we get here in the U.S. Man, that’s awful about your childhood dogs. I understand the reticence. I think I’m emotionally prepared for whatever happens on my end. But we’ll see: it’s serious, but she doesn’t have a foot in the grave just yet or anything. Whatever happens happens. My Tuesday was very uneventful. I started watching Gaspar Noé’s “Irreversible”, which I’ve been meaning to see for a while, but I shut it off about twenty-ish minutes in. Not because I thought it was bad, but because I just wasn’t really in the mood for it, and also it doesn’t at all seem like a viewing experience best served at home on a TV screen. (Ideally I’d be able to see it in a theater, but I doubt that’ll ever happen.) I’ll get around to it eventually. Oh man, huh, what would I buy first with my wealth? That’s a tough one. I don’t know, all that’s coming to mind is a bunch of books and movies—lame, I know. Maybe I’d get some rare film memorabilia or something. And definitely some fashionable clothes. I don’t know, I really don’t know what to do with money, lol. Perhaps I’d try and bankroll a totally insane dream passion project. What about you? Looking forward to hearing your thoughts. May both of our dreams be realized by week’s end.

  11. Keegan Swenson

    She will always be running the Packard Sawmill as Catherine Martell to me… what a singular talent.

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