The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Spotlight on … Paul Curran Left Hand (2014)

Published by Civil Coping Mechanisms
CCM Design by Michael J Seidlinger
Cover Painting by Marc Hulson

Left Hand is every reason why Paul Curran is one of the smartest, most daring, meticulous, violent, delicate, awe-inspiring new fiction chiselers in the known world, if you ask me. His work has been a huge favorite of lucky insiders like me for years, and now the secret is finally and definitely out.” — Dennis Cooper.

“With Left Hand, Paul Curran has written something so different that reading it will make your eyes burn.” — Matthew Stokoe.

“Stop the psychotic qualitative self-deception of childhood as Henry Miller, Paul Curran’s Left Hand ordered a mandragora sex. It is a cyber ploy plausible to deal with Georges Bataille’s supreme life anyway, this literary alcohol than ecstasy drugs cruel image of Antonin Artaud’s formalin fixed heart that heresy novel is formed on the eroticism cause of supremacy he was attached to the soul of Jean Genet’s sexual literature manual of the internet through perversion strong language. — Kenji Siratori.

“I experienced half of it not even thinking of it as a novel, but as a series of instructions whispered to me from my darkest and most reclusive self, a man I don’t like being very often. As a manual for how to go mad, Left Hand will find its own audience, but I urge discriminating readers to seek it out and read it with the utmost care and patience: slowly it unveils and embodies what happens when a sensitive mind, scarred by the sins of the fathers and the ‘acid rain’ of today’s neoliberal globalism, revolts by letting his genitals control what’s left of him after the cutting. We’ve all gone there to one degree or another, but only rarely, perhaps not since the death of Brigid Brophy, has so fine a mind allowed us access to all ten circles of hell. Or meta-hell: ‘I go to this novel’s funeral, sit on a hard chair, and observe the casket entering flames.'” — Kevin Killian.

“Like most fogged and drug-coated apathetic worlds, Paul Curran’s Left Hand begins by playing into our assumptions of the consequences of narrative violence and unpoliced desire. But as we proceed, unraveling takes hold and all perceptions of ordered identity, even the state of the novel, explode into a slowly undulating chaos. The reader is erupted, returned, through amputation and orgasm into a new site of beginning. I felt afraid in welcome, unprecedented ways.” — Cassandra Troyan.

“From extreme to extreme the balance is fleeting. A select few recognize the balance that lives between the extremes of good and bad. Such moments ought to be cherished. Moments of clarity offer a glimpse into the future. Depending on the strength of the eyes those fleeting glimpses can determine an entire life. Sometimes a future can flash before a person’s eyes. Unfortunately most people tend to blink.” —  Beach Sloth.

“The narrator appears to be at war with the thing he’s been designated to create, taking part in real-life scenes as close to those we’ve been commanded to perform. It is almost as if the narrator has been enslaved to his creation, forced to recreate things that should have never had a life. By the end, everything is so fucked it doesn’t even feel fucked anymore, and the private life of the narrator doesn’t seem strange either. It creates a truly terrifying feeling—recognizing that you’ve forgotten not to relate to what the book would have you do, which is maybe the rarest sort of power.” —  Blake Butler, Vice.

 

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Gallery: Paul Curran (Tokyo, April 2014)

 

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Further

Paul Curran’s Blog
Left Hand on Goodreads
Left Hand on Amazon
Bubblegum’s Funeral
Paul Curran @ Twitter
THE WEIRD INTERVIEW: PAUL CURRAN IS METAL
‘Left Hand’ excerpt @ Atticus Review
SLOWLY IT UNVEILS AND EMBODIES WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A SENSITIVE MIND, SCARRED BY THE SINS OF THE FATHERS AND THE “ACID RAIN” OF TODAY’S NEOLIBERAL GLOBALISM, REVOLTS BY LETTING HIS GENITALS CONTROL WHAT’S LEFT OF HIM AFTER THE CUTTING
An Interview-in-Excerpts with Paul Curran

 

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Trailer
by Bill Hsu

 

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How

‘Twenty years ago I went back to university to study writing, won a short-story competition and then a scholarship to do my masters. The manuscript I wrote was short-listed for the Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards, got interest from several agents, but was rejected by all mainstream Australian publishers. While living in Japan in the early 2000s, I wrote another novel that my agent rejected and then I rewrote the first one. I was based in London by then, and after my agent rejected the rewrites, I sent it to every agent there and they also rejected it. So, around 2006, inspired and encouraged by new internet writing, and particularly the community gathered around this blog, I decided to start something completely new.

Left Hand consists of four interlinked sections. There’s two parallel sets of second-person imperatives based on command hallucinations, advertisements, or song lyrics (Left Hand/A Tower of Limbs). These are like columns that the other sections move around and bleed into. The first instruction section runs linear, and the second runs as a broken reflection of the first. Both sets are divided into 21 parts made up of five blocks (1-5) of five instructions (a-e) that are ten words. In several notebooks, I outlined both sections with 10 instructions (a-j) as a paragraph each and then cut five lines from the final list using a random number generator. While following this procedure, I also wrote notes in the margins or across the pages, anything I was thinking about at the time, memories, comments, observations, processes, distractions, and then wrote these up and mixed them with research papers and violent porn descriptions into a 100,000 word document. I scrambled the document by cutting and pasting at random into a new document. Then I used two different translation programs to translate the fragments into Japanese and then back into English. Finally, I edited and rewrote the whole thing as a 10,000 word first-person meta-monologue (Obscure Distortion Organ). I wrote the last section (Scatter), which is third person, straight onto the computer with minimum notes after completing the other three sections.

‘I finished the manuscript of Left Hand in 2012 and sent it to Civil Coping Mechanism. They got back to me within 24 hours and offered to publish it. Marc Hulson, who I met through this blog, agreed to paint something for the cover and also asked me to collaborate on a project for Five Years Gallery. Part of that collaboration featured covers of previous editions of Left Hand mentioned in the novel.’ — Paul Curran

 

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Book

Paul Curran Left Hand
Civil Coping Mechanisms

‘To stop this novel occurring from this motel room is impossible. I go with a girl. We meet a boy. There is sexual intercourse with glass on the floor in a broken pharmacy. A police officer discovers my dead body in the back of a stolen van. The police officer shoots at my dead body. The girl is driving the van. I want to murder the boy. But I think it would be easier to murder the girl. So I try to murder the girl, even though I am already dead, and the boy throws me onto the road. That is the end of this novel.’ — CCM

 

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Excerpts

from LEFT HAND

1.1.

a) Perch with your feet on either side of the bathtub.

b) Stare at your cock getting hard through the rising steam.

c) Hear your lungs sucking in the most air they can.

d) Exhale and then thrust your mouth down at your cock.

e) Slip under the water hitting your head and pass out.

1.2.

a) Catch your reflection in the cracked mirror above the sink.

b) Taste the bathroom steam mix with the hallway’s thick dampness.

c) Look at Alex slumped on your bed shooting up heroin.

d) Hear yourself asking Alex about the money he owes you.

e) Listen to Alex describe the English language course he joined.

1.3.

a) Smell Alex’s hair as his mouth slurps on your cock.

b) Let go of the curtain hanging broken from your window.

c) Taste some blood that you noticed on your left hand.

d) Watch your hand pushing Alex’s head away from your cock.

e) Shut the door behind Alex and collapse onto your bed.

1.4.

a) This line has been left blank for no particular reason.

b) Wake up to the sound of a phone ringing somewhere.

c) See the words left hand printed deep inside your brain.

d) Lean back in your chair when you smell your manager.

e) Watch your manager saying there is blood on your collar.

1.5.

a) Spy on a woman in the window behind your office.

b) Feel the head of your cock glide between your teeth.

c) Smell the carpet below your desk after you fall down.

d) Remember Alex calling heroin the only cure for jet lag.

e) Unravel a note that you found in Alex’s coat pocket.

2.1

a) Click on a Japanese schoolgirl masturbating in a navy uniform.

b) Taste honey in your throat when her limbs are amputated.

c) Look up when you notice a student approaching the counter.

d) Watch the student’s eyes and say the manager is out.

e) Ask your colleague if she can answer the student’s questions.

2.2.

a) Stand in front of your mirror sniffing a schoolgirl uniform.

b) Lay the mirror on your bed and become a schoolgirl.

c) Watch the schoolgirl in the mirror fucking a Coke bottle.

d) Feel the Coke bottle rip the inside of your asshole.

e) Taste soap on your lips and collapse onto the mirror.

2.3.

a) Tap your keyboard until two words appear on the screen.

b) Say the words left hand to yourself in your head.

c) Change the font from Times New Roman to Courier New.

d) Increase the font size until each word takes one line.

e) Put the words in bold and italics before deleting them.

2.4.

a) Feel a layer of sweat and deodorant covering your body.

b) Take your left hand off your mouse and bite it.

c) Realize that your computer screen has swirled into tunnel vision.

d) Try to touch the words coming from your colleague’s mouth.

e) Listen to your chair swiveling around as you stand up.

2.5.

a) Hear the sound of your shoulder barging the toilet door.

b) Breathe in the mix of bleached come and air freshener.

c) Smell your invisible left hand in front of your face.

d) Turn on the hot water tap and taste the water.

e) Look at the water running through your invisible left hand.

3.1.

a) Order a Double Whopper meal at Burger King in Westfield.

b) Go into the Disney store and touch the stuffed toys.

c) Listen to women trying on lingerie in different changing rooms.

d) See a customer pointing you out to a security guard.

e) Look at the security guard asking you to follow him.

3.2.

a) Walk into Central Bar and order a glass of vodka.

b) Take a mobile phone off the counter and call Alex.

c) Look at the phone and say you quit your job.

d) Listen to the traffic going through the Holland Park roundabout.

e) See a schoolgirl in uniform getting off a 94 bus.

3.3.

a) Suck on the last piece of ice in your glass.

b) Breathe in deeply and rub your cock through your pocket.

c) Hear a horn blasting the schoolgirl across Shepherd’s Bush Green.

d) Catch the scent of her white panties as she walks.

e) Hide behind a tree when she looks over her shoulder.

3.4.

a) Listen to the schoolgirl calling to you on Goldhawk Road.

b) Inhale her vanilla perfume as she turns down an alley.

c) Grab her hair and kiss her mouth until she resists.

d) Push her to her knees and pull out your cock.

e) Squeeze her throat and fuck her hard in the mouth.

3.5.

a) Lick your lips then hear footsteps coming down the alley.

b) Glance around realizing your cock has left the schoolgirl’s mouth.

c) Smell garbage as the schoolgirl’s head hits a brick wall.

d) Catch a taste of her panties as she slumps down.

e) Watch the come spurt from your cock onto her legs.

 

from OBSCURE DISTORTION ORGAN 

To stop this novel occurring from this motel room is impossible. I go with a girl. We meet a boy. There is sexual intercourse with glass on the floor in a broken pharmacy. A police officer discovers my dead body in the back of a stolen van. The police officer shoots at my dead body. The girl is driving the van. I want to murder the boy. But I think it would be easier to murder the girl. So I try to murder the girl, even though I am already dead, and the boy throws me onto the road. That is the end of this novel.

 

 ***

I leave my father’s remains in a glass case at a strip club and catch a flight to London, shouting drunken methods in an Indonesian bar during a layover on the way, or when I get to Europe in a hostel somewhere east of Prague, where the owner says medicine rather than method has been inserted into your writing. It is no remedy, I reply, and orgasmic childhood psychosis is not self-deception, but if stopped and ordered to ask, alcohol is a plausible ruse for coping with life, and anyway this novel is stronger than medicine because of the heart images formed through fictional masturbation. When the owner asks me to pay, I tell him my money to get high will come from the directors of several multinational companies who intentionally republish this novel in its current unrecognizable form.

 

***

London summer is a bone-hot tombstone deceased under where I walk. I arrive as a prostitute accompanied by internet instructions about illegal student immigration. Anyone speaking natural English will confuse the authorities. Language draws up substances lacking actuality, and desire is more easily pursued with confidence when you can blend into the crowd. I work in an ex-curtain factory on Uxbridge Road. I stand in a corner of Shepherd’s Bush Green. A mysterious telephone call on an abrupt slow night possesses enough doubt to deceive what guides me. Her shoes. Her husband. The absence of a pulse. At a sewerage plant, near where they used to make cars, I walk across rusted pipes churning out shit and mulched up paper and enter an abandoned factory converted into apartments now derelict and possibly being used as some kind of theatrical space. I join what appears to be the audience participating in an unrealistic performance of a courtroom situation until my attention implodes and I slink under the floorboards. Other things happen after that. I become another person completely.

 

from A TOWER OF LIMBS

1.1.

a) Hear the beat moving and vibrating down through your intestines.

b) Squint at a glitter ball reflecting racks of colored light.

c) Taste sulphur and sweat that has dried and come back.

d) Watch people talking and laughing crowded around tables and booths.

e) Feel the music circling through your ass and your cunt.

1.2.

a) Notice a man and a woman dancing on a stage.

b) Look at the woman sucking on the man’s soft cock.

c) See yourself in a mirror tied up to a pole.

d) Watch the man trying to fuck the woman from behind.

e) Bite at and chew on the material covering your mouth.

1.3.

a) Watch the man spraying his cock to get it hard.

b) Try to squeeze your hands out of some wrist straps.

c) Look at the woman grabbing and pulling the man’s hair.

d) Clutch onto the pole and try to yank it out.

e) See the man throwing the woman down on her back.

1.4.

a) Twist the wrist straps around until your hands are numb.

b) Look at the man pissing on the woman’s shaved head.

c) See the woman scratching and then punching the man’s face.

d) Watch the man strangle the woman until she goes limp.

e) Look at the man wanking and coming on the woman.

1.5.

a) Choke yourself jerking forward on the strap around your neck.

b) Gag on the vomit back-washed through your mouth and nose.

c) Feel and hear the screams coming out of your throat.

d) Watch people talking and laughing crowded around tables and booths.

e) Close your eyes and fade into the music guiding you.

2.1.

a) Hear the music stop and see the lights go down.

b) Track a spotlight and listen to a voice saying welcome.

c) Feel yourself being lowered into a chair with leg stirrups.

d) Listen to the voice explaining there are only two contestants.

e) Hear the voice saying the first to come inside wins.

2.2.

a) Reach past the spotlight to a crack in the wall.

b) Feel the crack move as the voice introduces the champion.

c) Listen to the champion strutting around the stage and clapping.

d) Look at people trying to order drinks at a bar.

e) See an assistant grabbing and dragging me onto the stage.

2.3.

a) Hear the assistant pinning me down and removing my clothes.

b) See the champion inspecting me through the mirror on stage.

c) Watch the champion wanking his cock and punching my face.

d) Look at the champion picking me up in the air.

e) Feel the champion slapping his cock up against your cunt.

2.4.
a) Listen to me crying as I wank over your reflection.

b) Tell me you want only my cock inside your cunt.

c) Feel the champion’s spit hitting your face and your breasts.

d) Look at your body wasted from drugs in the mirror.

e) Wince each time the champion punches me in the head.

2.5.

a) See the champion laughing and throwing me through the mirror.

b) Listen to me wanking my soft cock on the floor.

c) Feel the champion kicking your stomach and then choking you.

d) Watch me trying to get up but then falling down.

e) Notice your heart throbbing when you see me standing up.

3.1.

a) Hear the champion jump on me and fuck my ass.

b) Feel a gust and realize your left arm has gone.

c) Listen to me wanking my cock covered in your blood.

d) Watch the champion rubbing your cunt secretions on my face.

e) Feel another gust and realize your right arm has gone.

3.2.

a) Taste some morphine and see an assistant slapping your cheeks.

b) Look at the blood spurting out from your left hip.

c) Hear the champion sticking his cock into my droopy mouth.

d) Watch me bite the champion’s cock and swipe his feet.

e) Notice some people below the stage glancing up at us.

3.3.

a) Look at me picking up a piece of broken mirror.

b) Watch me stabbing the champion in the face and neck.

c) Feel the champion’s full weight collapse on top of you.

d) Listen to an assistant dragging the champion behind the stage.

e) See a different assistant inspecting your cunt with his tongue.

3.4.

a) Hear music blasting from speakers and then see lights spinning.

b) Watch me escape from the assistant who was holding me.

c) Feel my cock throbbing hard as I pump your cunt.

d) Taste the come spurting from my cock into your uterus.

e) Sense the come travelling up inside and around your body.

3.5.

a) Gaze at your headless and amputated torso on the stage.

b) Drift to the rooftop and breathe in the midnight air.

c) Feel the neon warmth of Bangkok Hong Kong Shanghai Tokyo.

d) Hear an airplane taking off and rumbling through the sky.

e) Catch your silhouette looking out from one of the windows.

 

from SCATTER 

Paul thought he had suffered a fatal brain injury but felt like he had entered a new reality and was experiencing everything for the first time. He predicted what he was going to see before he opened his eyes. There would be palm trees and seagulls and the ocean swelling along the same beach he had seen a million times before. But everything would be totally different. He felt calmer and more in control than he had ever felt in his life. The oscillating binaries of pain and desire had gone. His head had been wiped clear. The tide seemed to be connected to his breathing in an unselfconscious way. He doubted he could move even if he wanted to. He expected to be paralyzed at least.

– – – – –  When Paul looked at the road, time became unstuck and hurtled back into the present. He watched the van swerving away from him before it straightened up and settled into a comfortable pace. He could just make out Robert and Lucy huddled together through the dusty curtain across the back window and he held onto that image for a long as he could. He told himself it didn’t bother him that they were together. It seemed to represent the correct order of things.
A road train coming from the mines in the desert ploughed head-on into the van. The impact ripped a hole through this new reality. The van crumpled and flipped into the air before landing on its side. A door came spinning off the van and skidded into a ditch covered with long dry grass. Everything went silent for a second after the crash then returned louder than before. Dragging sound out of every object present, the road train kept going. Paul stepped back as it lumbered past. The driver was focused straight ahead on something far beyond this plane of existence. The van was motionless. No one climbed out from the hole where the door used to be. The heat shimmered everything into a mirage.

 

***

Paul smashed a bottle on a sewerage pipe. He gripped the neck of the broken bottle in one hand and his cock in the other. He staggered along the beach, stabbing the bottle at his chest and wanking his cock until it got hard. When he was about to come he shuddered to his knees and hacked into his cock with the broken bottle. The glass got halfway through and the come spurted out along with the blood. Ecstatic under the influence of the chemicals shooting through his body, and determined to enact their conclusion, Paul hacked the glass through the rest of the flesh until the whole thing came away.

– – – – –  After standing up and walking a few more steps, Paul looked back at the discarded lump of flesh lying there but couldn’t comprehend that it had ever been connected to his body. It resembled a dead sea-creature washed up on the tide rather than the rare delicacy he once believed it to be, but of course those two analogies amounted to the same thing in the end. Paul felt voices somewhere in his head and realized the voices were telling him to keep going. The blood now pumping from where his cock used to be turned into flames between his fingers. He stared into the flames until he couldn’t see or feel anything. His body became pieces of cinema film, burnt up and melted as he collapsed into the sand.

 

 

*

p.s. Hey. ** _Black_Acrylic, Cool, sweetness. Congrats to Leeds and to you. If you haven’t yet departed, safe and scenic trip to the Lake District, and have a blast. I’m so glad you didn’t — not that you ever would, of course — request that miserable Queen song, although I bet someone does. I would have requested Pink Floyd’s ‘Bicycle’, I think. Great weekend! ** David Ehrenstein, Great Peter Sellers adds, thank you! ** Tosh Berman, Thanks. T. And, if I’m not mistaken, you are not infrequently tagged as his doppelganger? ** Steve Erickson, The Taylor doc hasn’t played NYC yet, no. May the tooth extraction go as easily as I predict it will. Fingers crossed about that actor. Dry Cleaning, nope, no experience with them. I will however, thanks. ** Whoa, that was quick. Today the blog turns its internal spotlight on a wonderful, daring, mega-novel, the only one so far by the superb writer and, coincidentally, long time big wig around this blog, Mr. Paul Curran. If you haven’t read ‘Left Hand’ yet, you really need to, and here’s your intro. See you tomorrow.

11 Comments

  1. David Ehrenstein

    David Koch, of the unspeakably disgusting “Koch Brothers” is taking his dirt nap There’s a third Koch brother than no one talks about — a Big O’ Gay Homosexual who used to frequent “The Ninth Circle” back in the day. Not sure if he’s still with us.

  2. Sypha

    I remember reading this one back in the day and enjoying it… still have my copy on one of my “books written by friends” shelves… hope Paul writes another one someday!

  3. David Ehrenstein

    It’s River’s Birthday

  4. David Ehrenstein

    My friend Jeremy Cavatera (a marvelous composer) says the gay Koch brother’s name is Frederick, and he invests in opera productions “There is also a fourth Koch brother, Bill, but nobody ever mentions him. He’s probably the “poorest” of them all, worth only around $2 billion.”

  5. Thomas Moronic

    Awesome that we’ll get to see each other when I’m in Paris. Super exciting about the progress of your book too, Dennis. I need that particular Cooper fix that no one else can give me.

    Left Hand is such an awesome book. Paul is the fucking best.

  6. Paul Curran

    Wow, thanks Dennis!!! A lovely surprise this morning. And great encouragement to keep on track with my new novel… the heat and humidity here have helped because it’s too dangerous to go out much. Super love to you xoxo. I hope things are good. Excellent you’re making writing progress too. Yes, your piece in I TRANSGRESS is excellent. Very exciting.

    Big thanks too, Sypha and Thomas!! xoxo. Thomas, I loved your piece in I TRANSGRESS too. Is that from your new novel?

  7. Kyler

    I loved this book. Good to see it again here!

  8. KK

    Holy shit this is incredible. How did I miss it? I’ll have to find a copy.

    So as you predicted North Carolina was as scorching as Texas, but in a slightly different way. It was a good trip though. I linked up with Joseph Grantham and Ashleigh Phillips; nicest people. We got milkshakes and talked about homelessness for 2 hours. It was delightful. Joey and I bonded over your work actually it was pretty cool.

    But now I’m back. Writing and submitting like never before. Speaking of I got a story over on Scott McClanahan’s blog I think you’ll like: https://hollerpresents.tumblr.com/post/186235722114/if-i-sit-here-long-enough-nobody-will-find-me

    I’m about to go meet up with Matt to talk about the book. Speaking of did his book ever come in? Hope it didn’t get lost through a different mail chute or something.

    Anyways that’s all I got for now. How’s you been? It’s probably a little nicer in Paris since we last talked.

    Oh I saw ‘Scary Stories’, pretty cheap even with Del Toro’s backing. Too reliant on the jump scares. Visually interesting, but that’s all Toro. I don’t think there’s much to look forward to cinema-wise. I’m seeing a restoration of Rivette’s The Nun. Never seen and I’m very excited. Karina’s the best.

    Ah well, so long till next time.

  9. Thomas Moronic

    Hey Paul! You’re most welcome of course. I’ve read that novel so many times and it always pulls my brain out and rearranges it in the best way.

    Nah, that thing in the anthology was just a short story I wrote for the book – not too sure how I feel about it, but it was a cool experiment. Thanks for liking it. My new novel is a lot different to that. Gonna jump back into that shortly. It’s 4:45am over here and I’m WIDE awake so I’d better go get some coffee and start some writing. Love and total respect/admiration aimed in your direction Mr Curran. xoxo

  10. David Ehrenstein

    Great stuff, Paul!

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