Brian Butler’s Night of Pan, starring Vincent Gallo and Kenneth Anger for onedreamrush
Ryan Trecartin’s A Family Finds Entertainment (in 5 parts)
–for the Nintendo Entertainment System, by Wisdom Tree, Inc., 1991, unlicensed
Your enemies are not killed; they are converted.
Occasionally, a convert will leave behind Spirit Points,
which you can use to purchase things like fruits.
Each fruit has its own unique method of attack.
Pears, though weak, come in handy in the Slums,
since they can destroy large weeds and junk piles.
Vials of the Wrath of God: these are basically bombs,
purchased in groups of three or seven. Samson’s Jawbone
acts as a boomerang. You’ll need this to get the Raft.
To begin, enter the red door and receive an apple
from the Christian Helper. The basketball player
you come across in the Park is of no consequence.
Do not go into the Bar in the Shipyard; you will lose
the Belt of Truth and have to go to the Pawn Shop
in the Slums to retrieve it. Using the Raft, cross the lake
and search out the Grey-Haired Man in the Airport.
He is slow and weak; it takes only three Vials
to convert him. He will drop the Helmet of Salvation,
which renders you invulnerable to dynamite.
The Church is to the east. Here you can buy grapes
for 75 Spirit Points. Grapes travel through solid objects.
Once you have beaten the Man in Black Robes
and obtained the banana, pass through the Woods
and enter the Prison, under which lies the Demon Stronghold.
The demons are vulnerable only to the banana.
You will now be in a blue room (aren’t you glad
you brought that key?) with the Demon Master.
He can be defeated with persistence. You will know
you have damaged him when his color flashes from red
to a lighter red—an almost imperceptible change.
James Davis was Mr. December in American Short Fiction’s Pinup Series. His interview with Idra Novey will be up on the Subtropics website any second now. He is an MFA candidate at the University of Florida.
Twelve new poems from Tao Lin at The Lifted Brow, the new issue of which has more good shit that you can handle, including from David Foster Wallace’s forthcoming final novel. I like these new Tao poems a lot, ‘seems fun or something,’ think most of them were in an issue of Zachary German’s The Name of This Band is the Talking Heads.
What do you think about the effectiveness of this kind of dissent?
2. Dear Everybody–one of my favorite books; beautiful–is now available in paperback. Absolutely buy.
Because Kevin reads HTML Giant, I have addressed a few questions directly to him in this post. Let’s treat the comments section as an impromptu author interview. If you, readers, have questions, ask away. Maybe Kevin will be good enough to respond.
The original version of A Common Pornography from Future Tense Books (why don’t the planes fly anymore, Kevin?) is a slim 59 pages. It arrived to me in an envelope of Future Tense Books that I had asked the fiction buyer at my bookstore to order. I wanted our store to carry them even though we had no small press section, no good way to display or highlight small press books, and—sadly—no real audience in our customer base. But I read an article about him and liked his glasses. And his suit. (It was a nice suit, the suit you were wearing in the photo accompanying the article. So I got us to carry copies of A Common Pornography, Please Don’t Kill the Freshmen, and Grosse Point Girl.
(Note that all three of these books were subsequently expanded upon and released by major publishing companies. Note that Kevin Sampsell is a man with really good taste and an eye for emerging talent. See Elizabeth Ellen. See Suzanne Burns. See the beginning of the Tao Lin Today…Today thing. See Claudia Smith.)
The original version of A Common Pornography shares with its newer, slightly more heavyset brother book a number of things. The spareness of the pieces, for example. The directness of the language and confessional nature of the story. But there is a randomness to it, too. A serious embrace of the unserious.
The book is illustrated with collages by a woman named Melody Owen. (Who is Melody, Kevin? Tell us about her.) The images are built out of old photographs and clip art. They relate to the pieces that they accompany, but it seems that Owen grabbed bits from the language instead of recreating scenes.
Also, the book is filled with notes by Mike Daily. The title page refers to the as footnotes, but most actually appear in the margins, giving one the sense that they have purchased a copy of the book that had been previously owned and analyzed. And the notes themselves are random, funny, and sometimes seemingly unrelated, as if one has purchased a copy of the book that had been previously owned and analyzed by a crazy person or a liar. (Wikipedia has an entry about footnotes that includes a section called “Opponents of footnotes”.) How did Mike get involved, Kevin? Why did you ask him to add the notes? Mike, how did you approach adding the notes?
There’s something about the first version of A Common Pornography helped me figure out how to navigate my own writing. A lightness, maybe. The lack of photographs of the subjects (Kevin and his family) makes the book harder to pin down than the new version. The cover photograph for each version fits. The new cover: a chair. A room. Sit. Listen. The old cover: and industrial landscape. A flatness. An emptiness.
The books seem the same way. There’s a concrete beauty to the new version. It’s a chiseled book, and the little pieces fit in an ever-unfolding structure. It’s a Jericho Rose opening.
The original, though, floats a little. Maybe it’s the length. Maybe it’s the addition of the other two voices—the reworked images of Owen, Daily’s absurdist comments from the book’s peanut gallery.
It’s odd how the same book can feel so different. It’s odd how two versions of the same book can be exactly right in very different ways.
February 26th, 2010 / 8:01 pm
my father warned me about men and booze but he never said anything about women and cocaine.
for seasickness? a glass of champagne.
the sooner you know your lines the sooner we can go out for a drink.
look at that bitch, carl, look at that!
la-dee-da, lost at sea again…
i am hag-ridden with ambition.
this isn’t drink. It’s only wine!
dance? I’ll waltz your ass right up against that wall.
a blend of champagne, gin, a spot of sugar, a squirt of lemon juice, the whole topped off with a brandy float.
i don’t want to be taught!
i’m quick on the bottle.
codeine…bourbon… (last words [?])
if I had to live my life again, I’d make the same mistakes, only sooner.