FICTION ON THE EDGE OF THE UNIVERSE

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.


SOMETHING TO CROS ABOUT!

CHARLES CROS: COLLECTED MONOLOGUES

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


ALSO AVAILABLE

Charles Cros and Émile Goudeau were quintessential Bohemian poets of the 1880s. Cros also experimented with the phonograph and color photography; Goudeau founded the Hydropathes, who met to declaim poetry while not drinking water. Cros and Goudeau’s only collaboration was a series of five exuberant stories published in 1880, which satirized such hot topics as divorce and capital punishment with bawdy humor and wild flights of fancy. All five stories are included here, plus four solo stories by Cros that complete the series, translated and annotated by Doug Skinner.

“Amiable smuttiness.” —Émile Zola

WORD PLAYHOUSE

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!


Extremes of Female Desire

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.


ALSO AVAILABLE

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

FRENCH HUMOR + WORDPLAY

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.

JUST IN TIME FOR SUMMER…

photograph: T. Motley


The lovely “Lewd, Nude & Rude” issue of BLACK SCAT REVIEW has stormed the beach!

As you’ve come to expect, the issue is filled with Sublime Art & Literature — innovative fiction, eye-popping graphics, works in translation, and spicy absurdities. Featuring 131 pages packed with an international cast of contributors: Mark Axelrod; Thomas Barrett; Sebastian Bennett; Giacomo Girolamo Casanova; Norman Conquest; R J Dent; Dawn Avril Fitzroy; Eckhard Gerdes; Alexander Krivitskiy; Amy Kurman; Hélène Lavelle; Marc Levy; Olchar E. Lindsann; Clément Marot; Lilianne Milgrom; Alison Miller; T. Motley; Angelo Pastormerlo; Gerard Sarnat; Doug Skinner; Valéry Soers; Jean Donneau de Visé; Gregory Wallace; Tom Whalen; and David Williams.

Have a bang-up Memorial Day!

AMERICAN RADICAL

“As with Joyce Carol Oates’s Blonde, Harold Jaffe’s Brando Bleeds is the best kind of biographical fiction — perceptive, inventive, richly thematic, and truer than true. That his concisely rendered composite of Brando gives us such a full portrait of its subject is nothing short of a miracle.”  —Tom Whalen


As BLACK SCAT approaches its 10th anniversary (July 4th), we’re excited to announce the publication of a major new novel by Harold Jaffe—one of America’s most innovative writers and thinkers.

BRANDO BLEEDS is a “docufictional” version of the life of renegade cultural icon Marlon Brando. Harold Jaffe seamlessly weds biographical fact and fiction, breathing new life into Brando as shaman/showman, an anti-Hollywood “movie star” whose radical politics forced him to confront the inevitable contradiction between rebel/activist and capitalist avatar. Drawn from biographical sources and Brando’s films, the author unveils Brando as a unique artist who both witnesses and introjects the world in pain.

BRANDO BLEEDS
A Novel by Harold Jaffe
Paperback; 181 pp., $14.95
ISBN 979-8985999655


CRITICAL PRAISE FOR HAROLD JAFFE

Each of Jaffe’s volumes has been groundbreaking. He has written some of the most innovative fiction of our time.   —Toby Olson

EROS ANTI-EROS is… a wonder of deadpan humor, biting wit and visual beauty. No recent fiction has gripped me with such force and immediacy.   —Marianne Hauser

From the docufictional shards of GOOSESTEP emerges a savage prophetic voice as grief-maddened as Isis picking through the bones on illusion’s killing floor to reassemble a dream that cannot be reanimated.   —Patricia Eakins

As TERROR-DOT-GOV vividly demonstrates: We are spiritually imperiled by illusions masked as “news.” Omissions, slants, pallid editorials all testifying to servitude to a slavish, enslaving “text.” Harold Jaffe knows this by heart.  Everywhere in Terror-dot-Gov, is exemplary skill, faultless tonality, and courage. Don’t forget courage.    Daniel Berrigan, SJ

The bravura essays in Harold Jaffe’s collection, REVOLUTIONARY BRAIN, challenge the conscience and consciousness of their readers. This witty and explosive book is an indictment of injustice and spurious morality and a call to art and enlightened activism as healing alternatives. —Jonathan Baumbach

Harold Jaffe’s SACRIFICE is an omnidirectional cry of alarm and call to action…[his] adept prose is a heart-filled and intellectualized reaction to terrestrial issues, a combination of rage, revulsion, and an implied plea for amelioration—in the fullest form of self-sacrifice.   Sebastian Bennett

“Jaffe’s convincing portraits of the dispossessed are moving, insightful glimpses of the human spirit under stress.” —New York Times Book Review

As always, Jaffe’s writing is moving, comical, marvelously deft.” —Washington Post



AN ‘ANTHUMOUS’ WORK BY ALPHONSE ALLAIS

The master absurdist is back in LOVES, DELIGHTS, & ORGANS (Amours, délices et orgues). This madcap collection of stories, fables, hoaxes and jokes is pataphysical fun for the literate layabout. This first English translation features 47 sublime textual specimens — PLUS six additional stories, a rousing introduction, and enlightening notes on the translation by Allaisian scholar Doug Skinner. If you’ve yet to discover the bizarre world of Alphonse Allais, you’re in for a treat.

“Allais comes across as a very modern writer, and his work as an experimental enterprise which is exemplary in many ways… it is also quite possible to invoke such writers as Raymond Queneau, Italo Calvino, and Jorge Luis Borges.”  Jean-Marie Defays


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

   Alphonse Allais was born in the Northern port town of Honfleur, in Calvados, on October 20, 1854. He was, therefore, born in the same town as Erik Satie, and on the same day as Arthur Rimbaud. His father was a pharmacist, and sent young Alphonse to Paris to learn the family trade. Young Alphonse mostly cut his classes, and steeped himself in the absinthe-soaked delights of bohemian Montmartre.

   He joined the hard-drinking literary coterie the Hydropathes, accompanied the celebrated prankster Sapeck (Eugène Bataille) on his misadventures, submitted monochromatic pictures to the proto-Dada exhibitions of the Incohérents, and wrote squibs for various ephemeral papers. He became adept, in both word and deed, at the unique Parisian discipline of fumisme: a heady mix of hoaxing, provocation, and iconoclasm, all delivered with deadpan aplomb. Although he’d abandoned chemistry, his scientific credentials gave him a perspective (and persona) that set him apart from the more febrile poets around him. He was often likened to an English schoolmaster, with a placid demeanor that made his wild ideas all the more startling. [from the introduction by Doug Skinner]

THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH!

Step right up! The “Funhouse” issue is now available. It walks, it talks, it crawls on its belly like a reptile . . .

Featuring astounding art and fiction by  Mark Axelrod; Tom Barrett; David Berger;  Norman Conquest; R J Dent; Muriel Falak; Eckhard Gerdes; Richard Gessner; Alfred Jarry; Richard Kostelanetz; Amy Kurman; Mantis; Kate Meyer-Currey; Bob McNeil; Lillianne Milgrom; Lance Olsen; Paul Rosheim; Doug Skinner; Nile Southern;  and Jim Yoakum.

Ladies and gents, grab your copy now!