Originally released in a limited edition, this vastly expanded version of Black Scat’s Merde à La Belle Époque brings gastric laughter to all of America. This hilarious scatological anthology features verses, stories, songs, and playlets by some of Paris’s most inventive and eccentric comic writers of the period. It includes the exceedingly rare Le Journal des Merdeux — an illustrated broadside devoted entirely to merde. Indeed, upon its publication in 1882, The Little Shits’ Journal was seized by the police and banned. Merde!
This lovely, deodorized paperback edition, designed by Norman Conquest, has been exquisitely compiled, deftly translated, and introduced by Doug Skinner, and includes his erudite and witty notes on the texts.
Return to those raucous years of La Belle Époque when French “shiterature” scandalized Paris.
Those familiar with Tom Whalen’s writing will have already skipped this sentence and jumped to the “buy now” button below. For those who have yet to experience his short fictions, you’re in for a treat.
In Tom Whalen’s Grand Equation ants make their way to the edge of the universe, an old doll rocks her nights away in the attic of an abandoned theater shop, “delivery trucks rumble up from the earth,” flies “feast off the flytrap of the sky,” a room falls in love with its inhabitant, and a man gives birth to a puppet. Populating the whole are troubled old men, grandmothers, a green man and priests, as well as dolls, mice, prose poets, and other fabular fauna. Drawn from Whalen’s work in the field over the past five decades, the sixty-seven prose poems and micro-fictions of The Grand Equation are comic, surreal, philosophical, disquieting and, as John Taylor commented in Michigan Quarterly Review on Whalen’s “Why I Hate the Prose Poem,” “particularly subtle.”
Reading Tom Whalen’s Grand Equation, I am reminded of my early years of writing prose poetry and reading the great masters of the form including Baudelaire, Jacob, Edson, Tate, and Simic. Like the great prose poets before him, Whalen’s work is startling, witty, surreal, and metaphysical. He uses the form to enchant and to entertain, to describe other worlds and offer new windows onto this one. His images, parables, and insights make the absurd seem ordinary and vice versa. And remind me that the world is not as I imagine it to be, and neither am I. This is a collection to ponder, savor and return to.
—NIN ANDREWS, author of The Last Orgasm
THE GRAND EQUATION Prose Poems and Micro-Fictions Tom Whalen $14.95 paperback ISBN 979-8-9859996-8-6
Tom Whalen’s short prose has appeared in Great American Prose Poems, Sudden Fiction, An Introduction to the Prose Poem, The Best of the Prose Poem, A Cast-Iron Aeroplane That Can Actually Fly, Unscheduled Departures, The Party Train and other anthologies. His two selections and translations of short prose by Robert Walser — Girfriends, Ghosts, and Other Stories and Little Snow Landscape — are published with NYRB Classics. His novel The Straw That Broke and collection April Fireball: Early Stories are both available from Black Scat.
The first three out-of-print volumes of the international anthology in a single paperback — featuring 32 extraordinary women writers revealing their most intimate stories. This omnibus edition is feminist fiction at its most provocative — guaranteed to unsettle, excite, transport, and arouse readers.
FEATURING: Jessica Alexander, Tamara Faith Berger, Elizabeth Bolton, Emily June Brink, Suzanne Burns, Tina V. Cabrera, Catherine D’Avis, Emma Gibb, Petra Anne Hawk, Elna Holst, Eurydice Kamvyselli, Rachel Kendall, Marina Kris, Cody Kmoch, Lily Knol, Marina Kris, Mandy Lee, Karen Moller, Pamela Naruta, L T O’Rourke, Erin Pim, Val Prozorova, Marina Rubin, Maria Schurr, Aurora Seymour, Sophia Smith, Star Spider, Amy Summers, Tara Stillions Whitehead, L C Wilkinson, Rebecca Woolston, Elizabeth Yoo.
NEW URGE READER OMNIBUS Edited by N. Conquest, Petra Anne Hawk, Elizabeth Yoo Second Edition 350 pp., 5.06 x 7.81 inches; paper; $19.95 978-1733165679
ORDER NOW AND GET THIS SUPER DISCOUNT — 79% OFF THE COVER PRICE
Crimes are a dime a dozen these days, but inside the “crime wave” issue of BLACK SCAT REVIEW you’ll find the high ones, the low ones, the in-betweens—true crimes, faux felonies, misdemeanors, murders, robberies, rapes, and speculative villainy.
Something illegal for everyone.
Featuring an international roster of criminally-minded artists & writers: Tim Newton Anderson; Tom Barrett; Margot Block; Norman Conquest; Charles Cros; Robert James Cross; Farewell Debut; Debra Di Blasi; Fernando Fidanza; Larry Fondation; Peter Gambaccini; Eckhard Gerdes; Émile Goudeau; Rhys Hughes; Harold Jaffe; Amy Kurman; Michael Leigh; Martha McCollough; Jim McMenamin; Derek Pell; Michael Pollentine; Frank Pulaski; Paul Rosheim; Doug Skinner; Saira Viola; and Tom Whalen.
It’s back to cool with the great French monologist, humorist, poet, and inventor—in a trenchant translation by Doug Skinner.
***FIRST PUBLICATION IN ENGLISH!***
Born in1842, Charles Cros was one of the most brilliant minds of his generation, equally adept at poetry, fiction, and scientific inquiry. He wrote smutty verses with Verlaine, synthesized gems with Alphonse Allais, contributed wild prose fantasies to Le Chat Noir, and experimented with color photography and sound recording, only to die young, poor, and alcoholic. Not incidentally, he also invented the comic monologue for the actor Coquelin Cadet. In these strikingly spontaneous and modern sketches, he introduces a gallery of fools and obsessives—The Clean Man, The Fencing Master, The Capitalist, The Friend of the Family—all nattering away, assaulting the audience with trivia, and blithely unaware of their own failings.
This edition collects all 22 of Cros’s monologues—masterfully translated & introduced by Doug Skinner—and includes performance notes by Coquelin, plus two biographical essays by his friend and colleague Alphonse Allais.
“The sheer playfulness of certain fanciful parts of Cros’s work must not let us forget that in the center of some of his finest poems, a revolver is aimed at us.”—André Breton
I have been working my arse off (pardon the expression) designing an expanded edition of Merde à La Belle Époque, translated by the venerable Doug Skinner, and featuring scatological works by Alphonse Allais, George Auriol, Léon Bloy, Georges Courteline, Charles Cros, J. Eschbach, Edmond Haraucourt, Vincent Hyspa, Alfred Jarry, Jules Jouy, Maurice Mac-Nab, Armand Masson, Arthur Rimbaud, Rodolphe Salis, Erik Satie, Henry Somm, & Émile Zola.
Black Scat’s original edition was published in 2014 as volume 24 in the Absurdist Texts & Documents series — a little 48-paged (spineless) chapbook, limited to only 310 copies.
At the time, we hailed it as our “#2 Bestseller,” assuming it would remain the last turd on the subject. But no—not by a long shot! Indeed, more gems lay hidden below the surface, just waiting to be fished out of the tank by the skilled hands of Monsieur Skinner.
One of many of our new edition’s highlights is Le Journal des Merdeux (The Little Shits’ Journal)—text by Jules Jouy & cartoons by J. Eschbach. This sublime, single-sided broadside surfaced in 1882 and was immediately banned by the French censors. Alas, one can only imagine what precious merde might have been excreted had subsequent issues appeared. 😢
This very rare Merdeux has never been translated, so it is fitting Black Scat should be the one to uncork it. (Here, take a sniff.) The translation itself involves arduous work—especially when bringing French puns to life with equivalent wordplay in English. One example from the Journal: there’s a joke about pilgrims going to Lourdes, because it’s good luck to step in “la grotte” (a pun for “la crotte”). Skinner made it good luck to step in dogma, keeping both the scatological superstition and the anti-clericalism. A rather brilliant twist.
Meanwhile, capturing the essence—if not the aroma—of the broadside’s design was a Herculean task. It required many days & nights of painstaking efforts in the WC, matching typography, kerning, cursing (“merde!”), and cleaning up all 28 illustrations which, as you can see from the reproduction below, were stained & degraded by the ravages of time.
One of J. Eschbach’s drawings seemed ideal for the cover of the forthcoming edition.
In the book, the single-sheet Little Shits’ Journal runs 9-pages with two columns each. Of course we’d have to hire an extraterrestrial sorcerer to fit the broadside’s 6-columns onto a page only 5.06 inches wide.
The bottom line: working on MERDE was a dirty job, but we were born to doo it.
We hope you’ll consider adding the expanded edition to your collection as soon as it, uh, comes out.
Nominata has gone missing, and her old friend Antonima is looking for her. Can the seven regulars in the Taproom help? Why are there strange lights and noises in the abandoned observatory? And what does the number 5040 have to do with all this?
Doug Skinner describes his novel as “an interactive verbal toy,” and Black Scat urges caution when handling it. On the surface, the text is playful, comic, and wayward. Further immersion, however, reveals elaborate constraints, cross references, and parallels, all creating an artificial world in which everything is a reflection of everything else, including itself. All that and slapstick too!
In 2020, New Urge Editions published Hélène Lavelle‘s controversial erotic novel, The Rites of Ecstasy. Today, we are pleased to announce Volume 2—Le Château du Comte—translated from the French by Valéry Soers.
Summoned back to the Domain, Gabrielle surrenders to the demands of the Vicomtesse, the Comte, and Lady Isabella. Much more than a sequel to The Rites of Ecstasy, this novel takes us beyond the introspective feminine dreaminess of La Maison to a more bracing, hallucinatory, wild and strange terrain of its own—the culmination and climax of ‘the Great Work’ on Gabrielle’s heart, soul, mind and body. A story of dramatic and erotic power – an immersion in another world – exploring the farther shores of female desire, love, hate and friendship, through extremes of pleasure and pain to the heights of the Sublime.
Le Château du Comte by Hélène Lavelle Translated from the French by Valéry Soers A New Urge Paperback Original Trade paper; 315 pp.; $14.95 ISBN 979-8985999648
FREE DOWNLOAD Peek behind the scenes & explore Hélène Lavelle’s novels. Read Dawn Avril Fitzroy’s article “Ruminations on THE RITES OF ECSTASY,” from Black Scat Review#25. Click here to download the free PDF.
In the tradition of Decadent literature, spiced with Gothic, this provocative novel takes the reader on a voyage through dream, reverie, fantasy, memory and imagination – recounting the raptures and tortures in the initiation of a young woman, Gabrielle, by the Vicomtesse, the Comte and their entourage in The Domain.
“This modern classic deserves to be ranked alongside the great French erotic masterpieces, Story of O and The Image , and very few others. Not for the faint-hearted or the narrow-minded, this story of love, excess, degradation, cruelty, tenderness and beauty is for all women whose fantasies and desires embrace the intensely erotic.” —Dawn Avril Fitzroy
Alphonse Allais (1854-1905) was France’s greatest humorist. His elegance, scientific curiosity, preoccupation with language and logic, wordplay and flashes of cruelty inspired Alfred Jarry, as well as succeeding generations of Surrealists, Pataphysicians, and Oulipians.THE SQUADRON’S UMBRELLA collects 39 of Allais’s funniest stories — many originally published in the legendary paper LE CHAT NOIR, written for the Bohemians of Montmartre. Included are such classic pranks on the reader as “The Templars” (in which the plot becomes secondary to remembering the hero’s name) and “Like the Others” (in which a lover’s attempts to emulate his rivals lead to fatal but inevitable results.) These tales have amused and inspired generations, and now English readers can enjoy the master absurdist at his best. As the author promises, this book contains no umbrella and the subject of squadrons is “not even broached.”
This sublime translation by Doug Skinner is one of our most popular titles.
About the Author ALPHONSE ALLAIS (1854 – 1905) began his career in Paris during the Belle Epoque. He was particularly active at the legendary cabaret Le Chat Noir, where he wrote for and edited the weekly paper. He quickly became known for his deadpan wit and inexhaustible imagination. Among other things, he also exhibited some of the first monochromatic pictures (such as his all-white “First Communion of Chlorotic Girls in the Snow” in 1883) and composed the first silent piece of music: “Funeral March for the Obsequies of a Deaf Man” (1884). Throughout most of his life, he contributed columns several times a week to LE JOURNAL and LE SOURIRE. These pieces were collected into twelve volumes, which he called his “Anthumous Works,” between 1892 and 1902. He also published a collection of his monochromes, ALBUM PRIMO-AVRILESQUE, in 1897, and a novel, L’AFFAIRE BLAIREAU, in 1899, as well as a few plays. His later years were troubled by debt, a bad marriage, and heavy drinking; he died at 59. He was a crucial influence on Alfred Jarry, as well as on the Surrealists: Breton included him in his ANTHOLOGY OF BLACK HUMOR, and Duchamp was reading him on the day he died. Allais’s fascination with wordplay, puns, and holorhymes led Oulipo to call him an “anticipatory plagiarist”; the Pataphysical College dubbed him their “Patacessor.” His books have remained in print in France, and the Académie Alphonse Allais has awarded a literary prize in his honor since 1954.