Scat from Paris

Novelist and creator of “literal objects,” Alain Arias-Misson has written from Paris to let us know he’ll be in NYC in March. Performance Arts Journal is doing a portfolio on his “Public Poem” and Emily Harvey Foundation is doing a presentation on March 14th. If you’re on that coast we hope you’ll attend.

Alain is one of fifteen luminous contributors to the forthcoming Oulipo Pornobongo: Anthology of Erotic Wordplay to be published mid-October. It’s #4 in our Absurdist Texts & Documents series.

He also revealed the hottest social networking site in France—Fèces-book. Now you know why our logo is grinning.

And speaking of fèces…

Another contributor to Pornobongo, Opal Louis Nations was editor of his own press, Strange Faeces, which brought to the public’s attention fresh young poets and writers, both in the publication of books and through his literary magazine, Strange Faeces.

Alas, good shit like that is hard to find.

Hot Off the Press!

The Neglected Works of Norman Conquest

Black Scat Books is proud to present The Neglected Works of Norman Conquest.  It includes two scarce early satirical works—Sartre’s French Phrase Book and Interiors: A Book of Very Clean Rooms—in addition to material published here for the first time. This full-color trade paperback marks the first major collection of the artist’s work to be published in the US.

Which reader are you?

You can find out by ordering a copy from Createspace or Amazon.

This is one book you don’t want to neglect.

o u no



*** plagiarism by anticipation ***
the second volume of the first edition.

OULIPO  ? What is this? What is this? What is OR  ? What LI  ? What PO  ? OR is workroom , workshop. What to make? The LI . LI is literature, what we read and what temperature. What kind of LI  ? The LIPO . PO means potential.Literature in unlimited quantities, potentially producible until the end of time, in huge quantities, for all practical purposes infinite. WHO  ? Ie who is responsible for this senseless business? Raymond Queneau says RQ , one of the founders, and François Le Lionnais says FLL , father and fellow co-founder and first president of the group, its Fraisident-Pondateur. What do Oulipians , members of theOULIPO (Calvino , Perec, Marcel Duchamp, and other writers and mathematicians, writers, mathematicians, writers, and mathematicians)? They work. course, but WHAT  ? To advance the LIPO . course, but HOW  ?Inventing constraints. New and old constraints, and less difficult and too diiffficiles diiffiiciiiles. Literature is a Oulipian LITERATURE STRESS . AndAUTHOR oulipien, what is it? It is “a rat who built the labyrinth itself which he intends to leave.” A labyrinth of what? Words, sounds, sentences, paragraphs, chapters, books, libraries, prose, poetry, and all that … I learn more? Reading.Reading what? First some basic works such as these, which give an overview of the production Oulipian theoretical and practical until 1981.

More here and there.

and some personal thots on other channels not our own.

I am usually constrained in this space not by the space itself (which theoretically is limitless), but by the duty to discuss books we publish and not those of other publishers. I will not say “competitors” as it’s silly to think of this as a competition with winners and losers. Besides, sadly we can only publish relatively few books (as opposed to every book) and that’s why this blog’s sidebar includes links to some of the small presses we admire.

But to be truly inclusive and democratic we would have to add a long string of university presses, such as Harvard University Press which published Daniel Levin Becker’s Many Subtle Channels: In Praise of Potential LiteratureThis is not to say that commercial publishers have nothing to offer, but what they offer is rarely cutting-edge, experimental, daring, risky, etc., etc. University presses bring us  books that would otherwise never see the light of print. Books aimed at specialized audiences, cliques cults, cadres, and cabals. And bibliomaniacs such as myself.

Many Subtle Channels is of particular interest since next month we’re publishing an oulipian anthology (see previous posts) and we want our readers to be up to snuff. For writers interested in the experiments of Oulipo, there are two essential collections in English: Warren Motte’s Oulipo: A Primer of Potential Literature  and the Oulipo Compendiumedited by Harry Mathews and Alastair Brotchie. While these books are a feast for those in search of ideas and stratagems, Becker’s book offers a unique inside look at the workshop itself, featuring portraits of the participants and descriptions of what it’s like to be a living member. (Deceased members such as Perec & Queneau are actively covered, too.)

Channels is a mini history of Oulipo written by a member, and takes a critical (yet playful) approach to the subject. Yes, there is wordplay here and the footnotes must not be side-stepped. Here’s an example of what’s to be found buried within the footnotes:

“…  Dominque Miollan , Le Lionnais’s secretary…reveals that Le Lionnais didn’t actually have as many books as he claimed—a paltry 2,500 on chess problems, for instance. She also recalls that he had three cellars filled with books, each with a different name: le purgatoire (purgatory) contained books he might call upon at some later date; la guillotine (the guillotine) held books he no longer wanted but that might hold some interest for friends or associates; and le cimetière (the cemetery) was for books that ‘were definitively condemned and could be given out to anyone at all.’

Becker’s research and scholarship are impressive, and he places the group in proper context to the Collège de ‘Pataphysique and the Bourbaki collective.  He charts  the Oulipo’s evolution from  secret society in 1960 when it began exploring “potential literature” to its contemporary manifestation as traveling circus, i.e., the group’s readings and performances, as well as public tutorials.

Fascinating stuff here—deserving of a  toast. Cheers to Daniel Becker & Harvard University Press!

Discover more goodness in this special edition.

Election Year Special

It's Fun To Be Rich in America

We’ve just unleashed a new edition of IT’S FUN TO BE RICH IN AMERICA by artists Norman Conquest and Michael Leigh. Originally published as an eBook by BOA, this new, perfect-bound paperback edition is packed with full-color collages celebrating the joy of Vulture Capitalism. It’s guaranteed to scrub away the Election Year gloom and delight the 99%. It’ll certainly piss off the 1%, and we think that’s reason enough to own a copy.

Order the book here.

Feel the Vibes…

oulipo pornobongo blanket bingo

pornobongo blanket bingo performed by our favorite  CHAT NOIR trio.

Drums are beating while the word-doctors dance. Hootchie coochie bongo jazz joy. All in anticipation of the forthcoming book, Oulipo Pornobongo: Anthology of Erotic Wordplay. It’s going to be a titillating feast of lascivious constraints. It’s an all-star literary burlesque show, awash with magic and mischief and mumbo-jumbo foreplay. In short, there has never been an anthology like it.

It’s the fourth volume in our must-have Absurdist Texts & Documents series and it’s coming soon. If you visit this site frequently you’ll be the first to know. Only 50 copies will be printed so be ready to pounce before it’s sold out.

While you’re waiting, pick up copies of #’s 1-3 here—and collect ’em all!