OUR BESTSELLING ANTHOLOGY

If you missed this gem, pucker up your lipograms, OULIPO PORNOBONGO is here. The three limited edition volumes of this “Anthology of Erotic Wordplay” are out of print and scarce. Here’s the complete set compiled into a juicy paperback edition—Illustrated in shocking full color.

Discover inspired works of constrained ecstasy by Alphonse Allais, Alain Arias-Misson, Paulo Brito, Norman Conquest, Rusty Cuffs, Farewell Debut, Tom La Farge, Larry Fondation, Paul Forristal, Ryan Forsythe, Eckhard Gerdes, Harold Jaffe, Roger Leatherwood, D.S. Macpherson, Samantha Memi, Ellen Nations, Opal Louis Nations, Andy O’Clancy, Lance Olsen, Derek Pell, Shane Roeschlein, Thaddeus Rutkowski, Maria Schurr, Lucy Selleck, Kebob G. Shoon, Doug Skinner, Tara Stillions Whitehead, and Giovanni Zuniga.

OULIPO PORNOBONGO is a veritable orgy of art, text, and Oulipian mischief.

TALL Tales & Loony Surrealism

Opal Louis Nations’ clever new collection of wordplay and absurdist fiction reveals a remarkable range of styles — parody, pastiche, Oulipian constraints, and Edward Lear-like nonsense verse. There’s even a serious side (see the nonfictional account of the infamous James Boys.) Throughout this compilation — featuring many never-before published works — Nations weaves snippets of autobiography like clues in a parlor game. There is no book quite like this one, with its ribald humor, leaps of language, and loony surrealism. And, of course, many wickedly witty rhymes.

RHYMES FOR SHORT PARENTS WITH TALL CHILDREN
Opal Louis Nations
Illustrations by Norman Conquest
116 pp., $12.95
‎ ISBN 979-8353847977

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
British-born artist, writer, singer and gospel music producer/ researcher Opal Louis Nations was born in Brighton, England in 1941. Close to 600 works of fiction and art have appeared in books and small magazines. One of his earliest texts was published in Michael Moorcock’s New Worlds Magazine in 1969.

He has been awarded both The Perpetua and Pushcart prizes for his fiction and appeared on Yehudi Menhuin’s T.V. series Man And His Music. Some of his graphic works reside at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles as part of the Jean Brown Archive. Over 150 of his music articles covering a wide range of music genres have appeared in music magazines. He has written liner notes to more than 130 CD collections. He produced the Legendary Gospel Specialty reissue series for Fantasy Records in Berkeley and the Nashboro Gospel reissue series for AVI in Los Angeles.

TURDS IN PROGRESS

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 nonot 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.

Norman Conquest

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!


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.

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]

P L A Y T I M E

Cover boy: Raymond Queneau

BLACK SCAT REVIEW 23: Wordplay
Bask in the lilt & spew of vowels & consonants, the litter of letters lost & found, visual lipograms, puzzles, puns, and blazing wordplay from the KO Corral.

FEATURING: Mark Axelrod, Tom Barrett, Kevin Brown, Norman Conquest, Brian Coughlan, John Crouse, S. C. Delaney, Paul Forrestal, Ryan Forsythe, Eckhard Gerdes, Penelope Gerdes, Joseph Harms, Amy Kurman, Opal Louis Nations, Angelo PastormerloSteve Patterson, Derek Pell, Agnès Potier, Raymond Queneau, Paul Rosheim, Gerard Sarnat, Doug Skinner, Michel Vachey, Carla M. Wilson, and D. Harlan Wilson.