Alphonse Today! —Hip! Hip! Allais!


drawing by Doug Skinner

Who was the hippest cat to ever hang his hat at Le Chat Noir in Paris? Alfred Jarry? Erik Satie? Apollinaire? No! Alphonse Allais, of course — the fellow who experimented with holorhymes, invented conceptual art, and created the earliest known example of a silent musical composition: Funeral March for the Obsequies of a Deaf Man (1884). Furthermore, you don’t need a Time Machine to travel back to 1893 to read Allais’s oddly titled collection Le parapluie de l’escouade. In fact — thanks to Doug Skinner’s inspired translation — you don’t even have to read French to enjoy all 39 wickedly funny texts in The Squadron’s Umbrella because Black Scat Books has launched its first publication in English. Yes, it’s another coup for this little house, and a landmark for lovers of French literature and Pataphysical humor.


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.”

by Alphonse Allais
Translated with an introduction, notes and illustrations by Doug Skinner

6” x 9”, trade paperback. 160 pp., Illustrated.
$12.95  /  ISBN -13  978-0692392126




Captain Cap: His Adventures, His Ideas, His Drinks by Alphonse Allais
Translated by Doug Skinner

Selected Plays of Alphonse Allais
Compiled and  translated by  Doug Skinner

Rare Classic Back in Print!

“A badass work of concentrated hallucination.”—Nile Southern


Just in time for the pataphysical New Year, a faux facsimile edition of Aventures dans la ‘pataphysique, which was originally published in Paris in 1951 by Éditions du Sagittaire.

Released in the U.S. by Black Scat in 2013, the limited edition of  ADVENTURES IN ‘PATAPHYSICS (Absurdist Texts & Documents #13) sold out quickly. We’re pleased to announce a reprint of that rare edition.

Discover the Jarryesque joys, thrills, and perils of science in a bizarre classic of “imaginary solutions.” With French text and illustrations throughout, this anonymous gem happens to be one of the strangest books we’ve ever published (and that’s saying quite a lot).

$15.00   /  $7.50 digital edition
Perfect-bound, illustrated,  64 pp. / Second Printing



Alphonse Allais—LIVE!—On Stage!

OK, that’s hyperbole, but here’s the next best thing to Allais’s reincarnation.


Please take your seats…STANDING ROOM ONLY.

This long awaited collection of rare theatrical texts includes original translations—never before published in English—of ten monologues, three one-act plays, and twelve shorter dialogues, skits and burlesques drawn from Allais’s columns in such publications as Le Chat Noir  and L’Hydropathe.

In addition to Doug Skinner’s fascinating notes on the texts, you’ll find an appendix of scarce photographs from the Paris production of “Le Pauvre Bougre et Le Bon Génie.”

Here’s a peek at the Playbill…


This unique collection of absurdist gems is proto-Dada at its most delicious!

Available in a trade paperback edition; 124 pp. Illustrated. $12.95



Move over, Jarry!

The #2 Bestseller!



“BLACK SCAT BOOKS has launched from the pits of lit this shameful little anthology, wonderfully translated and prefaced with futile brilliance by Doug Skinner. I was immediately disgusted and attracted by these turn-of-the-century French luminaries indulging in dirty little boy lyrics and lunatic stories, many of them in the scatological society that hung out at Le Chat Noir…” Alain Arias-Misson, author of Theatre of Incest

“Incroyable!… Alfred (a fart man from way back) Jarry would surely relish this collection–one which combines force-feeding with delicate odoriferous leakage—something for every taste!”  Nile Southern, author of The Candy Men: The Rollicking Life and Times of the Notorious Novel Candy

“These dirty little secrets are canonical secretions of literary genius. Fin de siecle Parisian scatology at its best.”  D. Harlan Wilson, author of Hitler: The Terminal BiographyFreud: The Penultimate Biography, and Douglass: The Lost Autobiography


This hilarious scatological anthology features stories, a song, poems, a play, a rebus, and naughty jokes by period luminaries. Contributors include Alphonse Allais, George Auriol, Georges Courteline, Edmond Haraucourt, Vincent Hyspa, Maurice Mac-Nab, and Erik Satie.

The collection has been tastefully compiled and effervescently translated from the French by Doug Skinner.

This limited edition includes notes on the translations and a brief biography of each contributor.

#2 on our Bestseller List— don’t settle for #1!

Merde à La Belle Époque
Absurdist Texts & Documents – No. 24
Perfect-bound chapbook, 48 pp.
Limited to 310 copies. – $12.50

*A discreet digital edition is also available ($7.50)

CLICK HERE to order.

Happy Birthday, Rabelais!

The Idiot Hath Arrived!

No, not that idiot, this idiot…

How I Became an Idiot

Esteemed French drama critic (and the butt of derision at the cabaret Le Chat Noir), Francisque Sarcey reviewed the premiere of Alfred Jarry‘s Ubu Roi with this visionary verdict: ”…a filthy fraud which deserves nothing but the silence of contempt.”

Writer and humorist Alphonse Allais transformed Sarcey into an Ubuesque piñata in a series of wicked columns published under Sarcey’s name in the newspaper Le Chat Noir. 

Never before in English, this rare collection is introduced and translated from the French by Doug Skinner. Edition limited to 60 printed copies. #00 in our Black Scat Classics sub-series.

How I Became an Idiot reminds me of Félix Fénéon’s excellent Novels in Three Lines… the unexpected is suddenly present, and there is rudeness, as well as a savagery of attack that we simply can’t imagine anyone doing to any well-known columnist of today and getting away with it.”
—Jeff Bursey, author of Verbatim: A Novel
Prepare yourself for some nasty laughs.


There will be no June Gloom here…


Get out your markers and circle June 1st. That’s publication day for How I Became an Idiot by Francisque Sarcey. Sarcey (1827-1899) was an esteemed French drama critic and the butt of derision at the cabaret Le Chat noir. He reviewed the premiere of Alfred Jarry‘s Ubu Roi with this visionary verdict: “…a filthy fraud which deserves nothing but the silence of contempt.”

Yes, he was a visionary idiot.


In the good hands of Alphonse Allais, Sarcey became an Ubuesque piñata for the avant-garde artists and writers of Montmartre. The absurdist master wrote a series of wicked columns for the newspaper Le Chat noir under the name Francisque Sarcey and, as you might imagine, merdre hit the fan. Pies and fists were flying and high society was aghast.

Be prepared for some nasty laughs in How I Became an Idiot. Never before in English, this rare collection has been translated from the French by the great Doug Skinner and is being issued in an extremely limited edition of 60 copies.



Read more about forthcoming Interim Editions on the Bookends page here.