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. Celebrate the master’s birthday with mirth, mischief, and cocktails!
And one of his sublime books translated by Doug Skinner, from Black Scat, of course.
“To leave is to die a little, but to die is to leave a lot.” –-Alphonse Allais
Here’s a look ahead at some of the goodies coming your way in the next few months.
In August we’re bringing you a major new novel by Tom Whalen, The Straw That Broke—a stunning work of speculative metafiction— filled with wordplay and literary hijinks. This is seminal post-cyberpunk fiction with wicked Oulipian twists, crafted by a master of experimental fiction.
On Labor Day, Mao Zedong’s clandestine Long March reaches its revolutionary climax in The Little Red Book of Commie Porn. A collaboration between California artists Terri Lloyd and Norman Conquest, this outrageously funny collection of satirical art & text is unlike anything we’ve ever published. Indeed, the book is nearly impossible to describe and must be seen to be believed.
Another literary event you won’t want to miss: the first English translation of the Selected Plays of Alphonse Allais, compiled and translated by Doug Skinner. This special illustrated edition makes a nice companion volume to Allais’s Captain Cap: His Adventures, His Ideas, His Drinks. This new collection includes 24 works: eight monologues, three one-act plays, plus short skits, dialogues, and burlesques. For fans of the absurd, this is a must-have.
For armchair travelers who enjoy going nowhere in wickedly clever fashion, there’s David Slavitt’s absurdist chapbook Walloomsac: A Week on the River. It has already received advance praise from R. H. W. Dillard: “…I haven’t had this kind of significant fun since I stayed up ‘til dawn…breathlessly reading Pale Fire for the very first time.” This one’s a real treat.
Coming in September. we’re thrilled to be publishing Suzanne Burns’ experimental novel Sweet and Vicious. This new work by the gifted young author of Siblings and Misfits and other Heroes, is sure to enhance her reputation as one of the most innovative contemporary American writers.
And just in time for Halloween… the third volume of Oulipo Pornobongo: Anthology of Erotic Wordplay. The collection includes works by Maria Schurr, Paulo Brito, Tom La Farge, Lucy Selleck, Doug Skinner, Ellen Nations, Paul Forristal, and others.
Be sure to subscribe to this blog so you don’t miss out on these and other forthcoming titles.
If you missed the gala Captain Cap launch party last month at The Jalopy Theatre in Brooklyn, you’re in luck. We’ve prepared two video excerpts featuring Doug Skinner reading from his translation of Alphonse Allais’s masterpiece.
In the first video, Doug reads “The Chameleon Child“—one of the good Captain’s rare poems.
In the video below, Captain Cap gives a masterful lesson in savoir-faire to an ignorant, European, and dimwitted bartender.
Finally, if Santa in his dotage neglected to leave a copy of CAPTAIN CAP under the tree, you can treat yourself to one here.
Doug Skinner read from (and signed copies of) his sparkling translation of Alphonse Allais’s Captain Cap: His Adventures, His Ideas, His Drinks at the Jalopy Theater in Brooklyn tonight. By all accounts it was a delightful performance and Alphonse would have been proud—not to mention inebriated, as Captain Cap cocktails were on the house.
If you missed the performance, don’t miss the book which is available on Amazon here.
<< Photographs by Farewell Debut. >>
Get 10% off our huge, Cap-sized edition of Alphonse Allais‘s CAPTAIN CAP: HIS ADVENTURES, HIS IDEAS, HIS DRINKS. This is the complete and unabridged translation of the original 1902 French classic, plus eight uncollected “Captain Cap” stories and a “Cappendix” of rare historical pictures. The book is illustrated throughout with witty drawings by Doug Skinner, in addition to his extensive notes and lively introduction.
Allais was going to Breuil with Gandillot, who had a trunk. Allais only had a shirt. “You can put it in my trunk,” says Gandillot. “What?” says Allais. “And I, do I ask you to put your trunk in my shirt?
You’ll find more wit and wisdom in CAPTAIN CAP: HIS ADVENTURES, HIS IDEAS, HIS DRINKS by Alphonse Allais, translated from the French with an introduction & illustrations by Doug Skinner.
from CAPTAIN CAP: HIS ADVENTURES, HIS IDEAS, HIS DRINKS by Alphonse Allais, translated from the French by Doug Skinner.
We’ve jumped the gun and released our mammoth deluxe trade paperback edition of Alphonse Allais’s CAPTAIN CAP: HIS ADVENTURES, HIS IDEAS, HIS DRINKS—translated by Doug Skinner. This is the complete & unabridged edition of the original 1902 French classic. 370 pages, including eight uncollected “Captain Cap” stories, plus a “Cappendix” of rare historical pictures.
The book is profusely illustrated with witty drawings by Doug Skinner, in addition to his extensive notes on the translation and swashbuckling introduction.
If you missed any of the limited edition capsized Captain Cap chapbooks in our Absurdist Texts & Documents series, you can get the whole kit and caboodle now, plus oodles more.
ALPHONSE ALLAIS (1854-1905) was a peerless French humorist, celebrated posthumously by the Surrealists for his elegant style and disturbing imagination. In addition to composing absurdist texts for newspapers such as Le Chat Noir and Le Journal, he 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). Truly ahead of his time (as well as ours), Allais is needed now more than ever. His mischievous work remains fresh, funny, and always surprising.
DOUG SKINNER has written numerous scores for theater and dance, particularly for actor/clown Bill Irwin (The Regard of Flight). His articles, cartoons, and translations have appeared in The Fortean Times, Fate, The Anomalist, Nickelodeon, Weirdo, Black Scat Review, and other periodicals. His translation of Isidore Isou’s Considerations on the Death and Burial of Tristan Tzara was published by Black Scat Books.
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For those who may have missed our editions of Alphonse Allais‘s CAPTAIN CAP, here’s a treat: Doug Skinner‘s introduction to Vol. IV, THE SANATORIUM OF THE FUTURE:
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Dorothy Parker once remarked that most humorists “milk a formula until it moos in pain.” After so many years of turning in several columns a week, Allais may have been feeling the strain. He admitted in one piece that the punning names he used for his characters were not really that funny. In a series of rather glum installments in 1901 (July 25, July 31, August 9), he simply listed recent patent applications. Contemplating such genuine inventions as the luminous hat, the pedal-operated fan, the combination fishing pole and bicycle pump, the hail parasol, the gloves made from intestinal membranes, the multicolored cane, the sea soap, the summer fez, the metal legs for wooden horses, the powdered cheese, “etc., etc., etc.,” he could only remark, “The fantasists who think they’re so clever when they imagine a dust-catcher for submarines, or a rubber muzzle to prevent snails from dribbling on the salad, are small beer beside certain serious and licensed inventors.” Fact, all too often, trumps fiction, to the eternal despair of humorists.