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.
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.
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; GerardSarnat; Doug Skinner; Valéry Soers; Jean Donneau de Visé; Gregory Wallace; Tom Whalen; and David Williams.
“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
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, REVOLUTIONARYBRAIN, 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
Black Scat author Caroline Crépiat poses with her edition of LE CHAT NOIR EXPOSED at the recent exposition of Incohérents art at the l’Olympia in Paris. A true funhouse of exhibits and quite a scandal still, just as the early exposition in 1893 shocked the city. The Incoherents were irrational, satirical, iconoclastic and absurdist, but were they artists asked the public? “Mais oui,” exclaimed Jules Lévy, the founder of the Incoherent Art movement, “but these artists don’t know how to draw.” (haha)
Imagine the gasps of attendees when they spied Alphonse Allais‘s green cab curtain, titled Des souteneurs, encore dans la force de l’âge et le ventre dans l’herbe, boivent de l’absinthe (Pimps still in the prime of life and lying face down in the grass drink absinthe)—one of the earliest monochromes in the history of art!—shocking indeed.
Most of the original Incoherent’s artworks & ephemera did not survive, and could only be seen in 19th century illustrations. But then, in 2021, came a remarkable discovery in France — a large trunk with 17 examples of art by Incoherents, including Allais’s monochrome.
But wait…were these artworks real, or fakes and forgeries? And why was the show limited to only 4 hours of viewing?? (What next? A drive-thru exhibition?)
Experts, such as our friend, artist and critic, Corinne Taunay, have been investigating and discovered that several items (including Allais’s curtain!) aren’t authentic. Mon dieu! — another scandal rocks the Parisienne artworld! This brazen scam appears designed to reap enormous profit (10 million euros, anyone?) off the memory of dead avant-garde rebels.
Meanwhile, here in America where everything is branded “fake” today, we remain respectfully silent on the controversy. However, what we can guarantee is the authenticity of Ms. Crépiat’s LE CHAT NOIR EXPOSED. Indeed, her book is the real deal — translated from the French by the great Doug Skinner — an extraordinary work of scholarship that ‘exposes’ the liveliest fin-de-siècle bohemian cabaret and journal in Paris.
Alfred Jarry spent his brief and turbulent life experimenting with genres of fiction. In his last few years, he created a new fictional form: the absurdist speculative essay. R J Dent’s new English translation of Speculations contains 68 of Jarry’s essays, originally printed between 1901 and 1904 as a series, ‘Spéculations’, in the French journal Le Revue Blanche.
In Jarry’s darkly comic collection of surrealist and satirical prose pieces, the renowned author deploys his characteristic satirical eye and dark humor to devastating effect. These essays range in tone from the wildly comic to the deeply tragic and cover a diversity of subjects, ranging from French Trees to Cannibalism. For Jarry, nothing is sacred; everything is worthy material for his surreal satire; the Passion is presented as a sporting event; buses are the prey of big game hunters, and even the Queen is licked from behind.
A series of sly investigations into fin de siècle France that reads like a beautiful & bloody handful of paper cuts, splintered essays that turn authority on its head in sharp bursts of wicked logic, R J Dent elegantly capturing Jarry’s iconoclastic spirit, his scandalous heart. —Matthew Kinlin
SPECULATIONS Alfred Jarry Translated by R J Dent Paper; 5.06 x 7.81 inches; 235 pp., $15.95 ISBN 13 979-8-9859996-1-7
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]
Pierre Louÿs wrote this scandalous and salacious satirical work in 1917, yet it wasn’t published until 1926, after his death. Originally titled Manuel de civilité pour les petites filles à l’usage des maisons d’éducation, it was the author’s first published erotic work—issued anonymously in Paris, with no date nor publisher’s imprint.
A Handbook of Manners for the Good Girls of France parodies the educational handbooks of the day, as well as popular guides to etiquette. But unlike the author’s elegantly sensual ouvre, including Les Chansons de Bilitis and Aphrodite: mœurs antiques, this is Louÿs’ most radical and subversive book — aimed directly at middle-class puritanism, mocking the hypocrisy and complacency of the Belle Époque. It attacks religion and social norms with equal vigor— a sharp slap in the face of censors and prudes.
It’s also very funny.
A HANDBOOK OF MANNERS FOR THE GOOD GIRLS OF FRANCE Pierre Louÿs Translated from the French by Lono Taggers Paperback; 70 pp., illustrated; $12 Pocket Erotica #23 / New Urge ISBN 13 978-1-7379430-6-8
Pierre Louÿs, poet and novelist, was born in Belgium but spent his life in France. He is best known for his erotic works, many with sapphic and classical themes. His most popular titles include Aphrodite: mœurs antiques; Trois Filles de leur mère; Le Trophée de vulves légendaires; Poésies érotiques; La Femme et le pantin; and Les Chansons de Bilitis. His contributions to French erotic literature remain unequaled.
Comic artist Doug Skinner aims his poisoned pen at 52 works of classic literature—from The Iliad to Ubu Roi—whittling them down to four cartoon panels. It’s a constraint worthy of Georges Perec — an OuBapoian*collection of black humor guaranteed to set funny bones on fire.
Shorten the Classics is brilliant — albeit abbreviated — fun. If you want to read the classics, but don’t have time, this book is for you.
Grab a copy before it’s too late!
Shorten the Classics Doug Skinner Absurdist Texts & Documents #43 paperback; 116 pp.; 5.06 x 7.81 inches; $14 ISBN 978-1-7373711-3-7
*Oubapo: Ouvroir de bande dessinée potentielle: ”workshop of potential comic book art”)