DC's

The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Spotlight on … Claude Simon The Trolley (2001)

 

‘If formal experimentation in art were a crime, Claude Simon would certainly have been charged, convicted and sentenced. He is usually associated with a group of French novelists writing in the decades after the Second World War known as the nouveaux romanciers. Alain Robbe-Grillet, Natalie Sarraute, and especially Margurite Duras are more familiar names to readers in English, even though Simon was the only one of this loose fellowship to garner a Nobel. There are more differences than similarities among them, but they shared the common cause of attempting to transcend the received nineteenth century parameters of fiction, such as the centrality of plot, setting, character, and motivation. As with Boulez’s music, their books can seem difficult to the uninitiated. At its best, their writing can be starkly, startlingly beautiful, if, unavoidably, cerebral.

‘Claude Simon’s gorgeous final novel, The Trolley (2001), published when he was eighty eight, is all of these, and something more —it is haunting. To open this book is to find time splintering. On one page we read the impressions, or memories of impressions, of a young boy growing up in a coastal town in France, just after the First World War. On the next, an old man, presumably the same boy now in a stare-down with the end of his life, gives a somber, almost hallucinatory account of time spent in a modern hospital. A beginning and an ending, between which yawns an immense lacuna —the life lived. The novel is slim, where we feel it should, by rights, be long.

‘To speak of its form: The Trolley belongs to a sub-species of novel which doesn’t seem to be a novel at all. Memoir, meditation, travelogue, history, essay — these can seem more apt designations. It is in good company. W. G. Sebald, for example, in The Rings of Saturn, his grand investigation of entropy and loss, casts a wide net, gathering into his narrative hull the writings of the 17th century doctor Thomas Browne, the silk worms of the Chinese imperial court, and the personal lives of historical figures such as Roger Casement and Charles Algernon Swindburne. The narrator seems to be the author himself, and what he shares of himself has the ring of of autobiography. The photographs, grainy, melancholy, distributed throughout the pages contribute to the impression of a documentary, rather than fictive reality. But this itself is it’s fiction. J. M. Coetzee’s Summer Time is written as a biography of a writer named John Coetzee, whose salient distinction from the author himself is that he is deceased. Among the strangest and most brilliant recent examples of this kind of un-novel is Australian novelist Gerald Murnane’s Barley Patch, in which a subtle and poignant portrait of the artist emerges from a close examination of the unwritten lives of characters from his life in reading, and even from his own books.

‘In The Trolley, objects, scenes, episodes, and characters are observed, often at dauntingly close range, but are never manipulated through a plot. Which is not to say there is no story, but it is a story the reader constructs. For example, we are shown a garden with an iris border. It is an old, established garden with full-grown trees. It belongs to the narrator’s aunt and uncle on his father’s side, the family to whom he and his mother came after his father was, we infer, killed in the War. We are shown his mother lying on a chaise longue in this garden. She is sick. Later, we are shown the same garden, the same chaise longue, minus his mother. No plot here, but, most assuredly, a story. Contrary to Simon’s reputation as a “difficult” writer, the writing here is not difficult. True, one has need of a healthy attention span to track with his immense, drifting sentences, but the language with which he fills these sentences attains a luminous, sometimes distressing, clarity.

‘Death is a constant in this book, the rats and kittens being a stand-in for death on a larger scale, rarely seen but always in the offing. His father’s death precedes the narrative, and, though barely mentioned, is generative of all that follows. There are the physically and psychically decimated survivors of the War who, besides aimlessly pedaling go-carts around a stone monument at the town center, intensify the loss of those, perhaps luckier, who, like Simon’s father, didn’t survive. His mother’s death, alluded to rather than recounted, changes everything again.

‘But it is his proximity to his own death that provides the most salient structural element in the novel. The perpetual incursion of one time frame into another is a characteristic feature in all of Simon’s writing. In this case, his hospitalization late in life continually interrupts the narrative of his childhood. These incursions make up for what drama is lost by his eschewal of the more traditional buildup of tension through plot. For example, a memory from his boyhood, in which he is running to catch the trolley after school, follows on the heals of an episode in the modern emergency room to which he has been transported by ambulance, “a sort of coffin”; so when we see him breathlessly watching the missed trolley disappear around a corner, we already know that, in something like seven decades, there will be one very important ride he will not miss, and both scenes acquire a luminosity they would not otherwise achieve, and the metaphor of the trolley, carrying its passengers across the length of its finite line, comes into its own without ever a moment of underlining. The weight of this slim book owes, not to novelistic expansiveness, but to this kind of juxtaposition.’ — The Stockholm Shelf

 

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Further

Association des Lecteurs de Claude Simon
Claude Simon, The Art of Fiction No. 128
POLAR Claude Simon
Philippe Sollers ‘Claude Simon, l’évadé’
‘Obituary: Claude Simon’
‘Claude Simon: Adventures in Words’
‘Reading Between the Lines: Claude Simon and the Visual Arts’
Book: ‘Claude Simon: Writing the Visible’
‘Claude Simon, George Orwell and Catalonia’
Textes de Claude Simon parus en revues entre 1955 et 1985
Claude Simon @ goodreads
‘Le nouveau roman est mort: vive Claude Simon!’
‘Hypertextualisation de Claude Simon: tentative de restitution d’une oeuvre’
‘Calude Simon et Marcel Proust’
Buy ‘The Trolley’ @ The New Press

 

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Extras


Claude Simon wins the Nobel Prize


Claude Simon commente son travail de photographe


Claude SIMON par Jérome Lindon


Claude Simon aborde description et langage

 

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Manuscripts

 

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Interview
from The Review of Contemporary Fiction

 

ANTHONY CHEAL PUGH: Claude Simon, a remark you made during our conversations in Dublin a year or so ago particularly interested me. You said that you did not consider that French writers were very strong in the field of the novel, but that they excelled, on the other hand, at autobiography. You spoke not only of Proust, whose A l’ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs you were rereading at the time, but of Rousseau and Chateaubriand. Could I begin by asking you to comment upon this observation, from a reader’s point of view?

CLAUDE SIMON: Andre Gide says somewhere in his Journal that France is most definitely not the home of the novel. And in fact, if one compares the works of nineteenth-century French novelists and their inferior contemporary imitators (Mauriac, Sartre, Camus, etc.) with for example those of Dostoevsky, whose characters, as in life, are eminently ambiguous and contradictory, incarnating at once good and evil, torturers and victims at one and the same time, then the French “realist” novel, deriving from the fable, the comedy of manners, or the philosophical tale with its didactic intentions, appears desperately flat, putting on stage univocal social or psychological types, bordering on caricature. It was Strindberg who noted in his preface to Miss Julie, not without irony, that Harpagon is avaricious and nothing else, whereas he could at the same time be a great financier as well as a miser, a perfect father, an excellent public official. . . . Personally, this kind of novel has always produced in me a boredom only attenuated by the descriptive passages (and this is something I experience more and more). For example, it was only because during the Occupation I bought the complete works of Balzac second-hand from a bouquiniste (books were hard to find then through lack of paper) that I read my way through La Comedie humaine, and what is more, despite several attempts, I have never been able to get to the end of a novel like L’Education sentimentale. In works of a biographical kind, a character reveals himself, deliberately or otherwise, in all his rich complexity, with all his contradictions, and without any manner of teaching standing out at all from his adventures. Anais Nin said somewhere that the everyday world seemed to her so devoid of interest that she preferred to take refuge in “the imaginary” and “the marvelous.” No doubt she never took the trouble to look at the incredible marvels all around us, a simple leaf, a bird, an insect. She really should have meditated upon Picasso’s remark: “Kings do not have their most beautiful children with princesses, but with shepherdesses,” for if ever you apply yourself, as Proust did, to examining attentively the life of anyone in your entourage, it’s not long before you notice that it presents a thousand times more complexity, richness, and fascinating subtleties than the fictive and summary lives and the spectacles staged in so-called “imaginative” novels.

Thus, Rousseau, who never stops moralizing, and acts with great meanness, if not with great brutality, devotes himself lovingly, for example, to the problem of the education of children, even writes a complete work on the subject, and abandons his own, without a second thought, to the state orphanage. Chateaubriand, although he is a sincere Royalist (he will prove his fidelity to the royal cause right into exile) and a sincere liberal as well, gambles away, as quickly as he can, the sum of money his family had collected, with great difficulty, in order to allow him to join the emigre army, and what is more “mislays” the wallet containing the little money he had remaining in the carriage bringing him back home, none of which prevented him from nevertheless going off to fight for his king and getting severely wounded. . . . In the same way, L.S.M., who risks his life for the Revolution and the Declaration of the Rights of Man, finds it quite normal that his wife be given a negro as a present; a fervent Jacobin, he contrives to get an ardent Royalist out of prison and marries her—and what author of fictions would ever have unleashed his imagination to the extent of inventing the episode of the heart cut out of the General’s corpse!!!

Finally, and as a corollary to this, container and contained being, in art, one and the same thing, the form of these works (let’s say, for simplicity’s sake: their style) is always admirable. It is not a matter of chance that Chateaubriand and Proust are the writers of the most sumptuous prose in French literature.

ACP: What is it that one is looking for when readin
g a text calling itself an “autobiography?”—an imaginary identification with an author (or with someone else, quite simply)?—or does the special pleasure of the reader not come from the loss of a stable identity, to the extent that autobiographical writing seems to lead to a dissociation of the writer’s “self” and to the production of “doubles”?

CS: Certainly not, as far as I am concerned, an “identification” with an author, but other than the pleasure of the text itself, a pleasure whose nature you have just defined quite well.

ACP: Is not the reader of an autobiographical text in search of echoes from the past, echoes of experiences he might himself have lived, perhaps at an unconscious level?

CS: Perhaps.

ACP: You said in a recent interview that all your novels since The Grass were “practically autobiographical“, while stressing that you did not tell all about yourself, and that it was always necessary to choose between the multiple possibilities that memory offers. You have often said, besides, that this raw material was necessarily transformed by the work of writing, by the act of putting it all into words. If, therefore, your novels are “practically autobiographical,” we have to understand at the same time that they in no way constitute acts of self-revelation, and that your aim is not to “confess yourself” to your readers, nor to explain yourself, let alone give your opinion on this or that subject. There is nevertheless in your novels a strong element of plot, even what appears sometimes to be an element of parody of the detective story, and this has repercussions upon what the reader guesses to be the underlying auto biographical story. To the extent that a text which is “practically auto biographical” inevitably encourages a kind of latent voyeurism in the reader, the part of the plot that remains concealed (what you do not say) causes a “blockage” in his reading, and he finds himself (I certainly find myself) in the same situation as the narrators and characters (Georges in The Flanders Road, the student in The Palace, or the narrator in Histoire) wanting to know “how it was, exactly.” This is of course just a schematic account of how readers come up against gaps in the autobiographical text and find “knots of meaning” that resist interpretation, but such a situation does seem to be typical of some of your more celebrated novels. Does what I have described correspond to any deliberately demonstrative strategy, or is it a question of a phenomenon that occurs during the writing process, something uncontrollable? Does each descent into the past—your past—lead to locked doors? Is not the fictional enigma (the detective story element) a kind of allegory of the impossibility (at the psychological, epistemological, and teleological levels) of the impossibility of the autobiographical project?

CS: I really cannot see what elements of a “parody of the detective story could be found in my novels. Are you not somewhat bemused by Robbe-Grillet’s theories and novels?

ACP: Quite possibly, but it has been shown that the detective story follows the pattern of the Oedipus story, and it has been claimed, even (by Barthes, for example), that all narratives correspond to a similar archetypal structure, and autobiographical narrative, it seems to me, can hardly be an exception here.

CS: It is certainly clear that in all narrative there is a “quest” of some kind: it is what the word “istoria” means in Greek—a “quest,” or “inquiry. ”

ACP: Actually, when I spoke of elements of “parody of the detective story,” I was thinking of the plots of, for example, The Wind, The Palace, Histoire, and in particular the story of the execution of the General’s brother in The Georgics—novels where a narrator tries to piece together a story out of things that happened to someone else, or to himself at another period in his life. In each case a “double” emerges—something that corresponds to the situation in the detective story, where the detective and the criminal could be said to represent, symbolically, aspects of a split “self.”

CS: That does apply to some extent to the situation in Histoire, but to tell you the truth, when I was writing the novel the “I” and the ’ “He” became so mixed up that the “inquiry” reached a point beyond which it could not progress.

ACP: The kind of questions I have been asking should not really be put to an author, as I well realize; readers must decide for themselves how they react to the “autobiographical” element.

CS: Yes, that is the reader’s decision.

ACP: William Burroughs, writing about Kerouac, went as far as to say, “Kerouac and I are not real at all. The only real thing about a writer is what he has written, and not his so-called life“. What do you think of this observation?

CS: I leave to scientists and philosophers the task of defining “reality.” They appear to have some difficulty doing it. To come back to the written (or painted) work, it seems to me to be a reality in itself, and to that extent, to be a part of reality as such.

ACP: May I ask you, in conclusion, what you think of the following remark by Blanchot: “The writer never reads his work. It is, for him, unreadable, a secret before which he cannot dwell1”?

CS: It is a perfect image of the position of the writer in relation to his work. The expression “before” appears particularly pertinent. He finds himself indeed always “behind” (I have myself compared the work of the writer to that of an artisan embossing copper or bronze, beating it out from behind, condemned to never being able to contemplate the result from the other side).

 

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Book

Claude Simon The Trolley
The New Press

‘Claude Simon, an author and a cultural icon in France, has written a Proustian novel, intermingling the memories of youth and old age. His madeleine is the trolley of the book’s title, the transport that took him to and from school every morning of his childhood. Passing back and forth between vine-covered hills, the trolley punctuates the trivial or cruel events of many lives, while action unfolds at the shore, in the gradually modernizing town, on a tennis court, and in a country villa. Elsewhere, life in all its fragility persists in the pavilions and labyrinthine corridors of a hospital, where our narrator now travels on a wheeled hospital bed, set to begin a new voyage into old age. When coincidences unite the two trajectories, the story becomes a fugue of memory that has delighted critics and made the book an immediate bestseller in France.’ — The New Press

 

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Excerpt

Chapter One

The needle pointing to an arc of embossed bronze gradations on the dial responded to a lever the motorman tapped with his open palm in order to start moving or gain speed, returning it to its initial position and thus cutting the current when approaching a stop, then rapidly and strenuously turning a cast-iron wheel to his right (a smaller version of the kind which used to work well-pumps in old-time kitchens) in order to activate the screeching brakes. The handle of the lever which the motorman pushed as he stood in front of the oval column on which this rudimentary instrument-pane l was set retained only a faint brown trace of its original varnish, the unprotected wood beneath now grayish and probably grimy.

To ride in the motorman’s cab (which in any case you had to step through in order to enter the tram proper) instead of taking a seat on the benches inside constituted something of a privilege not only to my child’s mind but also, quite plainly, to those of the two or three passengers who, similarly scorning the benches, would stand as a rule in the cab, probably not imbued like me with the importance of their position but simply because smoking was permitted here, judging by the apparently taciturn motorman who may have been “officially” silent as enjoined. by a sort of Franco-English placard: “Defense de Parler au Wattman,” which somehow reduced him to an inferior caste, condemned to mute solitude, at the same time that it suffused him with a nimbus of power like those tragedy kings or potentates it was forbidden by a severe (and sometimes mortal) protocol to address directly, a status (or position—or function) the motorman assumed with. utmost gravity, eyes always fixed on the oncoming rails, as if absorbed by the weight of his responsibility, waiting at each stop for the liberating clang of the ticket-taker’s bell to re-ignite, with his nickel-plated lighter, the cigarette butt stuck to his lower lip for the entire route (which. from beach to town required, including stops, about three-quarters of an hour), a stubby grayish tube of saliva-steeped paper which had turned transparent around the brown tobacco it contained and was nearly split by the rough stems (known as “logs”) which were too thick or unevenly rolled.

I seemed to see it, to be there among the two or three privileged characters permitted to stand in the cramped. six-foot-square cab provided they neither addressed nor distracted the silent motorman in a gray flannel shirt buttoned to the neck, threadbare trousers, and rope-soled espadrilles not exactly down at the heels but so frayed they seemed bearded, standing with feet wide apart and the impassive face and extinguished cigarette of a quasi-mythic being whose gestures—at least to my child’s eyes—seemed to have something ritualistic and sacred about them as he tapped the speed-lever with his open palm, leaned over to yank the brake-wheel, or stamped his right foot on the warning-whistle button as the car took a blind curve, sounding it almost continuously when, once past the tollhouse, the tram entered the town proper, first descending the long slope to the public gardens, skirting the wall around them, turning left at the monument to the war dead and, following the Boulevard du Président Wilson, gradually slowed along the Allée des Marronniers, coming to a stop at the end of the line almost in the center of town, opposite the movie-house with its glass marquee and enticing posters which in garish colors offered prospective customers the enormous faces of women with disheveled hair, heads flung back and mouths open wide in a scream of terror or the invitation to a kiss.

Some fifteen kilometers separated the beach from town: a rolling landscape with vine-covered slopes, the route dotted (on the right side as you came up from the beach) with opulent estates, their houses dating from the last century, two or three kilometers apart and somewhat concealed by trees, offering an inventory of what the vanity of recently acquired or consolidated fortunes could inspire in their owners, as well as in the architects who complied with (or even anticipated) their wishes to build at a period when the ambitions of a wealthy provincial class of limited cultural resources (occasionally inspired by the medieval or orientalist décors of operas seen in Paris during a honeymoon, for example) proposed a range of architectural features (towers crowned with delicate terra-cotta balustrades or else squat, flat-topped, and vaguely Saracen), of questionable taste but generally agreeable, not too embarrassingly ostentatious (except for one, the most recent), with old-fashioned names (like their Louis-Philippe or Napoléon III furniture) and a certain naive freshness (like “Miraflores” or, more simply, “The Aloes”).

In either direction (from town to shore or the reverse) two trolleys leaving once an hour at the same time passed each other halfway along the route, not far in fact from that property the name of which (“Joué”) matched an absurd crenellated façade (like those cardboard toys, those forts or castles given to children as Christmas presents), and vague misgivings still clung to the origins and date of the builder’s fortune, the present inhabitants (descendants of the romantic parvenu or perhaps recent purchasers) treated by the little society of the other “estates” not with any sort of ostracism but quite simply ignored, which somehow afforded them a certain prestige consisting of a combination of scorn and suspicion, the latter encouraged by the fact that from a certain angle, before the trolley took the incline leading to the “garage” (the name given to the double set of tracks which, halfway up the line, permitted the two cars to pass each other), it was evident that the ridiculous medieval façade was attached to nothing but an unfinished, not even roughcast wall behind which could be momentarily glimpsed a huge windowless structure (really a sort of shed), so that the tile roof had to slope down to accommodate what passed for medieval loopholes in the crenellated architecture.

At this hour of the morning, the two or three schoolboys allowed to stand in the narrow and prestigious cab were trying to avoid notice by standing close together in order to make room for those other habitués, apparently office workers or laborers in threadbare clothes just like the motorman’s and who preferred to ride standing in the cab, exchanging an occasional remark in this congested place where they were permitted to smoke or rather to suck on the cigarette butts rolled in that same grayish paper made transparent by saliva: a taciturn group to which, years later, I would recall belonging with that same sense of absurd privilege (though realizing I was being shown no more than tolerance), a sort of elite in the stifling stench of the shed vestibule which the guards locked up at night and in which every afternoon there would be five or six shadowy figures in clothes just as threadbare and dirty as the motorman’s (with this difference, that they (the clothes) had once been uniforms and that, in the stench of the field latrines which were also set up in that airless vestibule where their presence was tolerated, their elitism consisted solely in the possession by cunning, theft or some clandestine trafficking, of the sole mercantile value acknowledged in such a place, i.e. (as was indicated by similar hand-rolled cigarette butts, lumpy, spit-drenched and smoked down to the very end), of tobacco). And in the same way, having reached the end of the line, the motorman, head tilted to avoid the flame of the lighter so close to his lips, drew one last puff on that cigarette butt reduced to less than a centimeter of black-rimmed paper which glowed for a second before being delicately grasped between two fingers, plucked from his lower lip to which it had stuck, and finally thrown away, after which, holding in one hand the lever-handle raised off its axis, he stepped down from the car and, accompanied by the ticket-taker, headed for the little cement pavilion evidently built on the model of the comfort stations (a function it would in part subserve) and which doubtless included a narrow desk covered with log books to be signed and a cash box for the ticket-taker, both men covering the several yards like a sort of twin figure, with this difference that if the ticket-taker seemed to be wearing the same shapeless gray outfit he was nonetheless distinguished from the motorman by a sort of military cap, and his shapeless jacket was creased by the shoulder strap of his coin purse as well as by the strap of his oblong ticket tray held in the crook of his left elbow and on which were stacked in two parallel rows the many-colored stubs of the (one-way / round-trip) tickets corresponding to each of the stops along the route in a range of pastel colors (pink, tan, mauve, yellow, orange, indigo, azure) which, contrasting with the taciturn and expressionless faces of the two men and their threadbare garments, seemed like a bright display of flowers, their price-stamped petals sanguine and primaveral in every season.

That Allée des Marronniers which the trolley followed, gradually slowing down at the end of its route, parallel to the Boulevard du President Wilson just past the monument to the dead erected at the entrance to the municipal gardens, seemed to constitute, in the late afternoons (as if there were a link between them and the monumental monument), the rendezvous of half a dozen of those little go-carts consisting of a black-painted wicker seat between two wheels behind a third smaller wheel attached to a steering-shaft by a bicycle-chain running up to the double-crank also serving as handlebars and operated by the hands of those men (or rather, apparently, of exact copies of the same man—for they all looked just alike: the same bony, raptorial countenance, the same black moustache waxed to a point (or comically frizzled with a hot curling-iron), the same hand-rolled cigarette butt, the same tiny fan of faded ribbons in the jacket buttonhole, the same shiny black oildoth, creased and worn in patches, spreading from the seat down to the narrow running-board on which no foot ever rested) whom Maman called with what seemed a sort of wicked delight by a compound name (stump-men) which had a sort of sinister resonance (like thousand-legger or praying-mantis) and which on her lips and in her tone of voice had something at once offensive, macabre, and despairing about it, as if she were reproaching them not only for the exhibition of their infirmity, but for merely existing, for having emerged, virtually sliced in two but alive, from that conflict which had torn from her the only man she had ever loved, as if that cruel label of hers somehow implied a charge of cowardice along with envy, jealousy, and pity—she who had now renounced that crepe veil behind which, not without a certain ostentation, she had hidden her face long past the decent limits of mourning, but persisted in wearing only dark colors and who perhaps (just as her membership in a certain charitable society obliged her twice a week to teach the catechism to a handful of unruly children in a side-chapel of the cathedral) visited the hospital or the hospice or the asylum (there must have been a site, a shared locus from which, in the late afternoons, they headed toward that Allée des Marronniers impassive and terrifying with their waxed moustaches, their hawklike noses, their rickety vehicles and their tormented bodies, constituting a permanent chastisement, a permanent recrimination with regard to the living …) where these wretched creature were quartered, in order to bring them candy or even perhaps (though she hated this vice, but doubtless in memory of that smoking-service brought back from the Orient by the man for whom she still wore mourning and which figured in cloisonné (tray, tobacco jar and ashtrays) a flock, of pink-breasted turquoise birds flying through reeds over huge water-lilies) … perhaps, then, some of that inferior tobacco stocked in country stores, cubical packets wrapped in flimsy gray paper sealed by the white ribbon of the State Excise, and to which she never failed to attach one of those notebooks of little sheets of cigarette paper whose trademarks (“Riz-la-Croix” or “JOB”) might have seemed so many incitations to submit to their martyrdom had not the cross stamped on sky-blue paper simply referred to a manufacturer’s name and the acronym JOB printed in gold letters on a white background been derived, as was common knowledge, from the lozenge-shaped enlargement of the founder of the firm’s initials (one Joseph Bardou) and, like the cross, had no application to the sufferings of the biblical figure.

Furthermore, her own face (which when she was still a young woman had begun to grow puffy during the four years of an interminable engagement when she had obstinately opposed her mother in order to insist upon marriage with a penniless man, a match which the old lady considered if not degrading at the very least disastrous socially as well as financially, and which, later on, disappointment or rather despair, the accumulation of tears, seemed to have distended even more, filling it like a sponge) … her own face, then, since the disease which was to carry him off had attacked her, proceeded, as though by a sort of mimetism (or macabre coquetry) at first simply to waste away, then to grow cadaverous and gradually to mummify, irresistibly suggesting by the end, in an ashen, feminized, and pitiless form, the faces of those men physically amputated of half of themselves and, as if she was blaming them for some indecent exhibitionism or even, who knows? despite their cruel mutilation (one of them had only one arm as well) for still being alive—or rather for having survived, for having emerged from that war which had torn half of herself from her as well, so that this horrifying label of stump-men which turned them into somehow mythical creatures (half-human, half-arboreal) and which she never failed to repeat on each occasion with a certain insistence and even satisfaction (“the stump-men’s allée,” “that time of the afternoon when the stump-men get together,” etc.), seemed like an unappeasable protest, as if she had perceived their existence (or their perseverance in remaining alive) as an affront to her grief, a ceaselessly renewed sneer of fate, and …

 

 

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p.s. Hey. ** David Ehrenstein, Fascinating stuff about Markopoulos, thank you! Everyone, Mr. Ehrenstein has added to his legendary FaBlog with a new ditty called ‘The Second Amendment Solution To “I Don Know”’. Check it out. ** Tosh Berman, Hi, Tosh. Oh, cool. Yes, I just bought what I think is that book you mentioned when I was in Glasgow. You have the Blakeston Little Caesar book! You must be one of a handful. Cool, thank you. ** Bill, Hi. Experimental artist babes, you can’t beat ’em. I hope your weekend was pleasantly work filled and entertaining. Did you see anything of note? Mine was work-y (TV script, gif novel) and stress-y (pre-PGL release nerves). ** Kyler, Thank you, Kyler! I’m so happy you went to see PGL again, and your great words are super heartening. Well, it’s always quality not quantity. That’s the golden rule, I think. I’m glad to hear that the reading was great at being what it was, and do give an alert, yes, when we can do the looky-loo thing via youtube. ** liquoredgoat, Hi, man. It was fun, thanks. Super congrats about the MFA degree! You gonna celebrate or something? And I’m excited to read your poem! Everyone, liquoredgoat is, in real life, the wonderful poet Douglas Payne, and he has a new poem up at the literary site decomP. Please join me in feasting your eyes, etc. on it. Right here. ** h, Hi, h. Yes, I thought of you making the Markopoulos post as I know you’re a fellow big admirer. I’ve never had the privilege of seeing his films projected, just on-line and streaming. Lucky you. I have a book of his criticisms that I just bought the other day, and I’m obviously looking forward to reading it. I’ve only read a couple of scattered pieces of his here and there, but I was blown away by them. Yes, I saw the email/poetry book! Thank you so, so much! The Glasgow screening was great. It went really well. Zac and I were very happy. ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi, Ben. Sucks that Zac and I missed that march in Glasgow by a hair. That would have been fascinating. Shit. Well, I’ll look for video. Yes, yes, I’m enthusiastically awaiting the opportunity to host a ‘welcome’ post for The Call. Can’t wait! Everyone, The great _Black_Acrylic aka Ben Robinson has launched a fascinating new zine, The Call, which will be the subject of a post here very soon. In the meantime, here’s its new website. ** Misanthrope, Hey, G. I want to see the new ‘Avengers’, mainly because I saw the first two and actually enjoyed them in the way they seem to meant to be enjoyed. But I’ll probably wait for my first in-flight chance. That’s how I saw the first two, and why break the spell? Wow, Joe Mills liked PGL? That’s nice to hear and quite an accomplishment. Very cool. It does sound like lawyer might be a good gig for LPS. Hard to imagine him attending the near-decade of university that would take. He’s a lucky, lucky little dude. So far. Well, that’s tentatively great! ** Nik, Hey, Nik! Good to see you, man! Agree about the early Anger films really holding up. I saw a bunch of his more recent films last year, and unfortunately they were pretty awful. But hey. Well, your intended novella sounds very fascinating. Wow, yeah, my eyes are already itchy. Fantastic! And, yes, very looking forward to seeing you here. And, yeah, if something’s happening work-wise then, I’ll give you the word. I’ll email you Blake’s email address in a few minutes. Don’t hesitate to write and ask him, and tell him I gave you his contact and urged you to approach him. Great idea, obviously. ** Steve Erickson, Hi. Excellent on the start if your monologue. I like what you’re proposing, for sure, and I quite like that title: ‘Seasick’. Exciting! ** Corey Heiferman, Hi, Corey. Happy to have made the introduction. Very nice quote on the Robbe-Grillet. Thanks for it, and for the link. I’ll get myself over there. And for the link to The Tenemos Facebook page. I joined. And I see they propped the Markopoulos post. Nice of them. On the Eurovision post — which I’m excited you’re still into doing — well, basically what people do, and what is best for me, is to write/graph out how you want the post to be with text, etc., and then indicate where you want the photos and videos to go. For videos, a link to their location is good. Then I’ll imbed them. For images, best to send them as email attachments, and I can insert them in the spots where you want them to go if you indicate the names/places in the mock-up post. Deadline: the earlier the better but I can put the post together fairly quickly. Does that make sense? I can explain more and better if you want. It’s nice to be home. The film release is pretty stressful and busy-making, but that’s natural. Excellent news about the registrar’s recognition! Full speed ahead indeed and always whenever possible! ** Right. The great Nouveau Roman author and Nobel Prize winner Claude Simon’s final novel ‘The Trolley’ rarely gets discussed, and that was my impetus to put a spotlight on it. Give it some time. Thanks! See you tomorrow.

8 Comments

  1. Hi, D., just checking in. Love the idea of The Trolley. New show work on the way from me. Loved last slave batch even tho a while ago now. Love for a long time from me – and congrats on the slowly creeping up PGL release….

    J

  2. Claude Simon is as fine a film critic as he is a novelist.

  3. Hi!!

    Glad to hear the Glasgow screening was yet another success!!

    I’m going to Prague tomorrow to spend the rest of the week with Anita – I’ll be back on Monday to share everything and learn what’s new on your end!
    Have a great, great week, Dennis! See you soon!

  4. I’d never heard of Claude Simon before today but those manuscripts are beautiful artworks in their own right.

    @ DC, I just sent you some The Call related email.

  5. Dennis, Let me ask: is something lost in translation or not? I don’t know, sometimes I feel weird reading translations because I JUST KNOW I’m missing so much. What do you think about reading things in translation?

    Yeah, Joe said he really enjoyed it. He said that once he got used to the pacing, which didn’t take long, he found it very compelling and wants to see it again. He really liked the scene in the car with the main character and his gay friend. He and I have this in-joke about how much we miss in film, books, TV, etc. the first go-round. I can tell you he gets a lot more than I do. He really opened my eyes up to some things in The Marbled Swarm years ago.

    Yes, so LPS starts tomorrow. 27 total school days. He should be able to do it. He’s just got to get in there and…um, do it! I’ll give him your encouragement too. That’ll mean a lot to him. Thanks for that.

    Avengers, like I said, is really fun. Doesn’t feel like 3 hours at all. A lot of humor. A lot of action. A little sadness.

  6. I’m not sure about my ability to write poetic text in between an autobiographical story. (It’s occurred to me to have two different actors, maybe male and female, read the two different kinds of writing.) I’m going to try and return to work on the script tomorrow.

    Have you seen UNDER THE SILVER LAKE? It seems like one of those ambitious but flawed American films that gets a better reception in France than the US (although American critics and audiences have given a better response than we did at Cannes last year.)

  7. Hey Dennis,

    Good to see you too dude! Ah, I really have to read Simon as soon as possible, this one in particular looks amazing. Those manuscripts are out of control, they seem like such a brilliantly tactile way to approach complex novel construction.
    Ugh, that sucks about Anger’s newer films. Yeah, I watched “Mouse Heaven” and… there were some decent camp bits, but mostly it was so inane I couldn’t believe it.
    Actually a very funny story happened last night, where we started watching Scorpio Rising in the theater inside the Campus Center of my school. We were like ten minutes in when random students started showing up and watching the movie with us. Me and my friends were confused but cool with it until there was maybe 20 people, and then found out they were trying to get early seats to the Game of Thrones night that happens there weekly. Luckily we cut off right before the Nazi imagery really kicked in, but not before the orgy.
    Thank you so much for Blake’s email! I’ll definitely be messaging him within the next few days.
    How have you been? Oh, and since tomorrow (today, when you read this) is PGL US release day, congratulations!! It seems bizarre that I’ll actually get to see it now, after hearing so much about it. I can’t wait!

  8. Never read any Simon, but this looks as good an intro as any.

    You and Blake Butler are friends right? I just signed up for his logic and the unconscious class; it looks intense in a really appealing way.

    Are there anymore PGL screenings in the states lined up? In Austin we only have the Austin Film Society, which I feel would be perfect for a screener, and personally I wanna catch it on the big screen before a littler screen. But that’s me.

    Take care.

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