“THE OLD NEIGHBORHOOD”

An in-depth review of the novel HERE LIES MEMORY by Doug Rice appears in the current issue of AMERICAN BOOK REVIEW.

Here is an except:

THE OLD NEIGHBORHOOD by tara stillions whitehead

“A photograph never remains innocent. Just like a mirror is never innocent.” —Doug Rice

Those in search of a Faulknerian novel set in Pittsburgh will find themselves easily absorbed by Doug Rice’s lyrical meditation, Here Lies Memory, a book that skillfully braids myriad existential themes to form a multi-tiered narrative suspended between forms. From the relationship between identity and place to the speciousness of sight and words, Rice investigates how simulated realities and gentrification’s continued oppression of already marginalized groups—minorities, the indigent, the addicted, and the psychologically afflicted—distort collective memory and perpetuate dominant culture’s legacy of violent hegemony within the social narrative. Parallel narratives and succulent prose convey this tall order of emotionally charged themes and do so with a sophisticated understanding of narrative balance.

Readers are first introduced to Elgin, an African-American Vietnam War vet and widower whose despair over witnessing the continued gentrification and ultimate disappearing of his neighborhood and its history leads him to will himself into blindness. As with many of the characters in Rice’s book, Elgin seeks self-preservation, and blindness is his only means of doing so. “Going blind,” Rice writes, “saved Elgin from the oblivion being created by a world that was too full of things to see. It stopped him from losing what remained of the world that was worth saving…The old neighborhoods were becoming invisible. Renaissance this, renaissance that. Call it what you want, to Elgin it was stealing stories. Memories were dying. Outside, in the world of the seeing, the past was being erased more and more. All that was true was being forgotten.” Disappearing neighborhoods are not the only things at risk of being lost in a world with little regard for the past; Elgin’s memories of his beloved and deceased Thuy, the Vietnamese woman Elgin brought home from the war and married, are equally at risk. And Elgin and Thuy’s teenage grandson Johnny is, for Elgin, the greatest potential threat to her and the family’s eventual disappearance.

The bulk of Elgin’s story involves persistent attempts at making Johnny conscious of his naïveté and complicit ambivalence, and through these encounters, Rice’s commentary regarding the labor involved in creating dialogue between generations becomes apparent. Through sightless Elgin, we also see the importance of the oral tradition of storytelling in keeping blood memories alive. “Your story,” he tells Johnny, “began before you ever began. Before your mother cried her first tear. Before I kissed your grandmother. Before. That’s when words begin making you. In the before.” The before is Elgin’s father, Clarence, whose vitriol regarding the loss of his first love is, according to Elgin, an important part of who Johnny will become. One has to ask, though, is Rice arguing that aspects of one’s history are beyond escaping? Are we forever prisoner to our blood memory? Johnny’s quest to find his great-grandfather’s ghost and, presumably, confront the despair he would rather ignore, is a journey towards knowing the answer; in the end, Johnny’s passive observation of the spectral image of Clarence’s riverside mourning leaves no concrete resolution. Arguably, the final moments of the book foreshadow Johnny’s likely lapse into the same self-preservation that eventually takes Elgin, and Johnny’s surrender to storytelling as the answer to the things we do not know and therefore fear unsettles an otherwise staunch argument about the importance of increased visibility among the marginalized.

Rice explores place and memory simultaneously, removing them from the abstract via analogy: The city of Pittsburgh is as much a physical place—made of words—as it is an amalgamation of memory, or that of touch. Additionally, Rice explores experience and the human condition as something of a script, or a text that is rewritten and storied by the individual and culture. The problem with revision is the lack of consensus. Tenderness for one is violence for another; the simulated is…

-from American Book Review, Volume 38, Number 2,

***

HERE LIES MEMORY is available worldwide on Amazon.

RAVE!

Praise has been pouring in for the novel HERE LIES MEMORY by Doug Rice. Here’s an excerpt from the latest in ANGEL CITY REVIEW by John Venegas:

“Mr. Rice has accomplished something incredibly difficult and has done so with superlative skill.  He has made the surreal feel real, he has blurred the lines between the macrocosm and the microcosm, and he has somehow managed to contribute to the conversation of trauma and abuse in a manner that is not only unprecedented but which feels entirely necessary.  Here Lies Memory is a fantastic work that will require multiple reads to fully process and will never make you regret picking it up.”

CLICK HERE to read the full text of this rave review,

CLICK HERE to order the book on Amazon

MEMORY AND THE SPIRIT OF PLACE

“In HERE LIES MEMORY Doug Rice loves his characters wondrously, keenly, completely, and the result is a novel at once stunningly beautiful, brilliant, fierce, crazily imaginative, and acutely wise about how the ghosts that our memories and words invent are often the last things to leave us, no matter what, how some stay so deep in our skin they become as real as its color — especially those that can damage and mend us most.” —Lance Olsen, author of THEORIES OF FORGETTING

MEMORY-FRONT---WEB

HERE LIES MEMORY explores the place of memory in living, daily, scarred and sacred lives. Two Pittsburgh families struggle to survive trauma and love. A man wills himself to go blind, not to forget, but to remember in new ways. Another man drinks beer after beer until he can no longer drink away what he must face directly. This novel reveals what language and photographs do to memory, desire, and love, and what gentrification is doing to the souls of families and neighborhoods.

MORE ADVANCE PRAISE for Doug Rice’s stunning new novel:

“Covering all of the bases in this novel bent on conveying a deep love for the city and the people of Pittsburgh, Doug Rice ultimately makes our lives feel more dignified, loved, no matter if our local language and essence of being have become displaced. I’ve got no words for what Rice accomplishes. Just that, he beautifully brings to light everything in The ‘Burgh – and in places of the heart – that was done in the dark.” 
—Ricardo Cortez Cruz, author of STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON

“How does memory write us? What fictions haunt our bodies and lives, and what truths do we construct to carry the weight of our selves? Doug Rice designs a brutally beautiful helix from dual narratives woven by and through love and loss. Between blindness and insight there live characters who, like all of us, story a way to go on in the face of buildings decaying, cities disappearing, hearts and bodies slipping toward ghost. Mother, sister, wife, grandfather, grandson, girl, boy…all identities move through desire, love, memory, and language in a place called Pittsburgh. Reading this book made my skin sing, my heart wail, a secular hymn of the body. “
—Lidia Yuknavitch, author of THE SMALL BACKS OF CHILDREN

***Available now worldwide on Amazon***

CLICK HERE TO ORDER

 

PUB-NOTES

♦ We will soon be accepting submissions for our online cabaret, le scat noir. 
♦ watch for  a new book by doug rice on september 15th.  here lies memory is truly an unforgettable novel.
♦ alPHONSE allais’s first book (published in france in 1891) was titled A se tordre. this collection of 45 pieces, drawn largely from his contributions to the avant-garde paper  Le Chat Noir, put the author on the absurdist map. presently, our own doug skinner is putting the finishing touches on his translation — double over — which will feature the full volume plus additional texts not included in the original. to make this black scat edition even more special, there are drawings, detailed notes on the texts, and an introduction by skinner. needless to say, we are thrilled to be publishing this first  english translation — a most fitting addition to black scat’s series of books by the master humorist.
 ♦ also on the way … “the obsession issue” of black scat review. this is the magazine’s 16th issue and features eye-opening works by william gibson, Violet Capers, tony duvert, samantha memi, paulo brito, and many others.
♦ finally, don’t miss #32 in our absurdist texts & documents series: TRUE CRIME: The People vs. Rrose Sélavy.  this dada chapbook is destined to be a collector’s item.  
Happy labor day!

Summer Scatterings

balzac_orderJULY HAS BEEN A BUSY MONTH here at Black Scat. We  added Balzac’s comedy WAITING FOR GODEAU, translated by Mark Axelrod,  to our growing list of theatrical works, with the emphasis on farce and the Theatre of the Absurd—plays by D. Harlan Wilson, Eckhard Gerdes,  Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz,  and Alphonse Allais. Avant-garde drama is alive and well here.

Now #1 on Amazon’s  New Releases in French Dramas & Plays

We compiled three out-of-print volumes from our Absurdist Texts & Documents standinseries in a trade paperback edition —OULIPO PORNOBONGO: ANTHOLOGY OF EROTIC WORDPLAY. This illustrated anthology features works by 28 writers and artists from around the world, including 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. Fans of the Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle will enjoy these works of constrained ecstasy.

scatonlineLater this month we’re launching a monthly page of fiction and poetry—digital works that are not available in print. This will provide an additional venue outside our print magazine, Black Scat Review, which is issued irregularly.

AUTOBIOGRAPHY-COVERThe summer heats up in August with release of a new novel by Alain Arias-Misson; AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A CHARACTER FROM FICTION. This innovative work of experimental fiction  integrates plagiarized texts by Joyce, Beckett,  Kafka, Proust, Strindberg, Michaux,  Sterne, Lewis Carroll and others into an ingenious fictional “autobiography.”  Here you’ll discover what happens when famous fictional characters surface in the life of a writer.

 

Looking ahead to the fall, we’ll release the much anticipated new novel by Doug Rice—HERE MEMORY-FRONT---WEBLIES MEMORY: A PITTSBURGH NOVEL, which explores the place of memory in living, daily, scarred and sacred lives. Two Pittsburgh families struggle to survive trauma and love. A man wills himself to go blind, not to forget, but to remember in new ways. Another man drinks beer after beer until he can no longer drink away what he must face directly. This novel reveals what language and photographs do to memory, desire, and love, and what gentrification is doing to the souls of families and neighborhoods.

ADVANCE PRAISE FOR HERE LIES MEMORY:

“…Doug Rice loves his characters wondrously, keenly, completely, and the result is a novel at once stunningly beautiful, brilliant, fierce, crazily imaginative, and acutely wise about how the ghosts that our memories and words invent are often the last things to leave us, no matter what, how some stay so deep in our skin they become as real as its color — especially those that can damage and mend us most.” —Lance Olsen, author of THEORIES OF FORGETTING

“Covering all of the bases in this novel bent on conveying a deep love for the city and the people of Pittsburgh, Doug Rice ultimately makes our lives feel more dignified, loved, no matter if our local language and essence of being have become displaced. I’ve got no words for what Rice accomplishes. Just that, he beautifully brings to light everything in The ‘Burgh – and in places of the heart – that was done in the dark.”  —Ricardo Cortez Cruz, author of STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON

HERE LIES MEMORY will be available September 15th.

Desires that Disappear

And words got souls just as much as we do. Words change when you say them, the way your soul changes when the right woman touches you. Same with photographs. They got souls. You look into a photograph too long, too hard, and you steal the very soul of the photograph…

Doug Rice, from Here Lies Memory

cover final

These remarkable photographic moments – memories – faces from  the street – dig below the surface of flesh and go to the bone where forgotten words are etched. Words like lost souls in joyless eyes.   AN EROTICS OF SEEING goes far beyond today’s omnipotent street images, the snapshots and candid portraits that reveal only surfaces. Doug Rice captures epiphanies in the faces of strangers— finds an “erotic” connection  only a visionary artist can discover. It is not simply a matter of capturing the “decisive moment” — it is the depth his eye perceives —piercing crowded  public spaces and  revealing absences  – ghosts and their memories – the very soul of our transient lives.

AN EROTICS OF SEEING:
The force of photography as philosophy’s broken sentence
Photographs and text by Doug Rice
5.25″ x 8.25″, perfect-bound paper. 64 pp.,
$20  /  Edition limited to 300 copies
ART PHOTOGRAPHY

CLICK HERE TO ORDER

“Doug Rice reveals things about loss, memory, language, invention – things that we didn’t know needed to be said or seen, but learn it in the miraculous accident Rice realizes as writing and photography, and offers it as an inexplicable generosity that resonates with the generosity that Rice intuits in the world he re-inhabits.”
-EARL JACKSON, author of Strategies of Deviance

In the wings, some special things (seventh edition)…

 

There is a lot of excitement buzzing around our editorial bunker here in northern California. We are adding quite a few titles to our growing list of sublime art & literature, with books by Alphonse Allais, Alain Arias-MissonMark AxelrodPierre-Corneille de Blessebois, Catherine D’Avis, Farewell Debut, Edith Doove, Eckhard Gerdes, Richard Kostelanetz, Terri Lloyd, Doug Rice, and Carla M. Wilson, among others. As always, expect some surprises, including  (we hope) a book once listed as forthcoming by the great Gaberbocchus Press in London that, alas, never appeared. For now, that’s all we’re at liberty to divulge.

For those who missed out on collecting all 31 titles in the Absurdist Texts & Documents series, we suggest getting in on the ground floor of our New Urge imprint—devoted to contemporary erotic fiction by writers from Europe and North America. The first volume, White Fire & Other Tales by Cody Kmoch has just been released, with four more scheduled to appear in 2015. These sensual trade paper editions are numbered sequentially, handsomely designed, and custom-sized  (5 x 7.7 inches) for your comfort and edification.

We should also mention that our magazine Black Scat Review has been redesigned, and will sport a new look when its eleventh issue appears in the spring.

Here are a few goodies waiting in the wings.

SQUAD

THE SQUADRON’S UMBRELLA 
by Alphonse Allais
Translated from the French by Doug Skinner
FIRST PUBLICATION IN ENGLISH

A collection of 39 pieces by the great French absurdist. This is quintessential Allais, featuring some of his funniest texts—never before translated.

In regards to the significance of the title, Allais states in his preface the following:

“I have entitled this book The Squadron’s Umbrella for two reasons, which I ask the reader’s indulgence to tick off before him.

  1. There is no mention, in my volume, of umbrellas of any kind.
  2. The vital question of the squadron, considered as a unit of combat, is not even broached.”

That pretty much says it all.


 

UPDATE 1/30 —ON SALE NOW

cropped

ANGEL OF EVERYTHING
by Catherine D’Avis
Translated from the French by Kenneth D. Fletcher
FIRST PUBLICATION IN ENGLISH

Bored with her life in a quiet, French coastal town and desperate for excitement, Emma sends out a prayer to the Angel of Happenings. When she meets an enigmatic Parisian photographer, her wish appears to have come true, until she finds herself drawn into an intimate world of erotic temptations, obsession and danger.

The controversial novel L’ange de toutes choses originally appeared in Paris in 2012. Published under the pseudonymous initials “C.A.,” the work received favorable reviews, as well as the condemnation reserved for works in this arena. Ms. D’Avis’s writing has been compared to the novelist Marguerite Duras.

ORDER ON AMAZON

 


 “The Zombie of Great-Peru marks an extremely important literary occasion.” —Apollinaire

Guillaume Apollinaire

THE ZOMBIE OF GREAT-PERU
by Pierre-Corneille de Blessebois
Preface by Guillaume Apollinaire
Translated from the French by Doug Skinner
FIRST PUBLICATION IN ENGLISH

Black Scat Books will proudly resurrect this rollicking novel featuring the first mention of zombies in world literature! Originally published in 1697, it offers “a biting satire of colonial society as licentious, credulous, and possessed by its own belief in zombis.”*

In the words of translator Doug Skinner, this libertine tale is “Great fun. Filled with sex, slapstick, deceit, and fake zombies.”

Who could ask for anything more?

___
*Doris Garraway, The Libertine Colony


mince-ed

MINCE
by Edith Doove

A collection of poems & observations by a gifted young British writer. These works were originally written in Dutch and composed over a ten year period.

Ms. Doove has a sharp eye and her words whisper fresh visions.

PUBLICATION; January 31, 2015


 

In the wings, some special things (sixth edition)…

HOROSCRAPES

Black Scat’s Absurdist Texts & Documents series is divided into sets of six titles each. This year we’ll be closing out the fifth set with AN INCONVENIENT CORPSE by Jason E. Rolfe (#30) and HOROSCRAPES by Doug Skinner (#31). Both gems are imbued with the mischievous spirit of Alphonse Allais.

Indeed, we launched the series in the summer of 2012 with Allais’s story MASKS, and the great French absurdist remains the guiding light behind Black Scat Books–suitably sublime and obscure. You’ll find plenty of evidence in the just released trade paperback SELECTED PLAYS OF ALPHONSE ALLAIS.

Next month we’re publishing a novel by a talented young writer, Suzanne Burns.

sweet-cover

Sweet and Vicious is an inspired exploration of Waldeinsamkeit and (post)romantic angst that turns the mundane into something beautiful and wild. Burns is a gifted writer.” –D. Harlan Wilson.  Coming October 15th, just in time for Halloween.

Need we say more?

Artist Terri Lloyd  (THE LITTLE RED BOOK OF COMMIE PORN) returns with a new monstrosity that’s in preparation as we speak. For now, the nature of the book must remain under wraps to avoid causing  panic. We can only report that it’s another collaboration with Norman Conquest. (Clearly these two don’t know when to stop.)

The grand “utter nonsense” issue of BLACK SCAT REVIEW (#9) is going to be our biggest issue yet. Publication date TBA.

Looking ahead to 2015, you’ll discover books by Mark Axelrod, Eckhard Gerdes, Alain Arias-Misson, Farewell DebutCarla M. Wilson, Doug RiceRichard Kostelanetz, and other luminaries.

HAPPY FALL!