Saturday, September 20, 2014

Directed by Jerry Lewis Day

'Jerry Lewis is the only American director who has made progressive films. He was much better than Chaplin and Keaton. He could have made marvelous movies, but he won’t now…because of the time in which he is living. If he had lived during the October Revolution, he might have made a magnificent movie.' -- Jean-Luc Godard

'The setting: a small movie theater on Paris’s Left Bank, not far from the Latin Quarter as well as the chic stores on rue de Grenelle and boulevard Saint-Germain. The time: 14.00 on a recent Wednesday afternoon. The scene: 25 or so people lined up in the hot July sun waiting for tickets to go on sale for the inaugural screening of an actual two-week Jerry Lewis film festival. Today’s movie is The Nutty Professor—or Docteur Jerry et Mister Love, as the 1963 film is known in France. A Jekyll-and-Hyde takeoff, it is widely regarded as among Lewis’s finest works as writer-director-star. The ticket queue is well behaved but palpably eager.

'Whetting our appetite, a handbill for the retrospective quotes Robert Benayoun, film critic and director of the documentary Bonjour Monsieur Lewis, on The Nutty Professor: it is a work that “confirms” Lewis as “not only a corrosive satirist but . . . an audacious colorist, and a bold juggler of sonic effect.” A catalog, written by the film historian Emmanuel Droux, author of Le Cinema Burlesque, pokes fun at critics who cite this movie as the masterpiece in Lewis’s oeuvre—as if there were only one! That said, Droux notes that The Nutty Professor “remains a staggering film,” so much so that even Americans, despite their inexplicable aversion to Lewis, seem to appreciate it. That is true: Eddie Murphy remade the picture in 1996, successfully enough that a sequel followed in 2000, and a third has been threatened. In 2004 the original was added to the Library of Congress’s National Film Register (though it is possible this was merely a harmless sop to French sensibilities at a low point in Franco-American relations).

'The Parisians outside the theater are happy to share their own enthusiasm for Lewis’s work. I introduce myself to one elderly, stylish woman—unabashedly gray hair, nicely coifed—and explain in my infantile French that Americans are fascinated and amused by the French passion for Lewis and would she be so kind as to explain why this passion persists. “Pourquoi?” she asks with a shrug. “Pourquoi?” The question lingers in the air, rhetorically, philosophically, as if the answer were both obvious and beyond words.

'A younger woman—silk scarf despite the heat—answers me in English. “Because he is funny,” she says with a smile and an infectious laugh. Bien sûr: That would be my answer, too, if I agreed with it.

'A middle-aged man—cargo shorts, mandals—is eager to talk “Jerry.” He praises the director’s technical innovations, including his pioneering use of video playback; bemoans older prints of the films in which Lewis’s mewling nasal-isms were dubbed into French (“You miss the nuance—it would be like for you hearing Gérard Depardieu in English”); and speaks knowledgeably about even the more obscure corners of the filmmaker-star’s oeuvre, including The Day the Clown Cried, an unfinished and rarely seen Holocaust-circus drama.

'The man turns to his wife, and in French, as best as I can make out, they discuss the perfection of a particular camera movement from The Ladies’ Man (1961), which is also on the festival program. “Jerry is one of the best directors of the 1960s,” the man then says to me in English, summing up, a hint of emotion in his voice. “I put him with Godard and Leone.”

'The tickets finally go on sale, and we file into the theater. By the time the lights go down, the auditorium is a third to a half full, maybe 120 people; not a Cannes premiere, but not bad—even in a country with nearly 11 percent unemployment—for a Wednesday afternoon.

'I have seen The Nutty Professor before and am not a fan, though sitting among this audience, in this city, I hope to discover whatever it is that has previously eluded me. I do like some of Lewis’s earlier comedies with Dean Martin—try Artists and Models or Hollywood or Bust, both directed by Frank Tashlin—but most of his work as a director and solo star I find . . . well, unfunny, I guess I’d have to say.

'The humor continues to elude me this afternoon but no one else: the audience laughs appreciatively at even the corniest gags and most belabored slapstick, digging deeper now and then for scattered belly laughs and guffaws. One woman gasps “Non!” in pleasure-pain when the director telegraphs an impending pratfall involving barbells.

'I half-get the intellectual appeal: as a director, Lewis takes the kind of formal experiments Hitchcock loved and applies them to comedy. The Nutty Professor, for instance, has some nice bits involving exaggerated sounds as well as long silences. Lewis’s gags may not make you laugh, but you can unpack them—the ones that involve more than him crossing his eyes—the way you can unpack a Hitchcock camera move, a Godard edit, or the color of a Douglas Sirk set.

'Speaking of which: this has been advertised as a restored version of The Nutty Professor, but the hues are wan and bleached out, lacking the acrylic, color-wheel pop I remember from previous viewing—and as my friend on line pointed out, with Lewis “everything is about the color.” A New York audience at Film Forum, say, or Lincoln Center, would be screaming at the projectionist and demanding refunds. But the Paris audience doesn’t seem to care. Bathing in genius, even improperly filtered genius, appears to be reward enough. Or maybe Jerry intended the hues to be wan? A reflection of the colorless, dehumanizing modern society that is the comedian-trickster's foil? Anyway, lights up. Applause.' -- Bruce Handy



Jerry Lewis @ IMDb
The Official Jerry Lewis Comedy Museum and Store
Jonathan Rosenbaum 'The Lewis Contradiction'
'Was there ever a man or movie star less ordinary than Jerry Lewis?'
'Repelling Rejection, or: The Disappearance of Jerry Lewis, and Some Side-Effects'
'You Have To See… The Ladies Man'
'Digging Down Deep: Jerry Lewis in Conversation With Peter Bogdanovich'
'11 Facts You May Not Know About Jerry Lewis'
'"The Jerry Lewis": The Untold Story of the Beastie Boys Single That Never Was'
King of Comedy: The Jerry Lewis Page
Book: 'Why the French Love Jerry Lewis'
'The Ramones on the Jerry Lewis Telethon'
Jerry Lewis Fans Forum
'Jerry Lewis and Love'

Martin Scorsese, Jacques Rivette, Louis Malle, Luc Moullet, Orson Welles, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, and Jean-Luc Godard reflect on Jerry Lewis

Jerry Lewis interviewed by Dick Cavett

Jerry Lewis Teaching Filmmaking at USC in 1967

Jerry Lewis talks about filmmaking on the Belgian TV show 'Close Up' in 1965


'The Total Film-Maker, Jerry Lewis’ book on filmmaking, is taken from 480 hours of audio tape, recorded as Jerry taught filmmaking at the University of Southern California, 1970. It’s considered one of the best books written about filmmaking ever. It was printed in 1971 and has been out of print since then.' -- Cinephilia and Beyond

13 of Jerry Lewis's 13 films

The Bell Boy (1960)
'The Bellboy opens with a comically defensive apologia-cum-defense of the film's alleged "plotless" nature via Jackie Mulchen (actually character actor Jack Kruschen), the "executive producer in charge of all productions" at Paramount, who describes the film as nothing more complicated than "the diary of a few weeks in the life of a real nut." In retrospect, the nod toward modesty that kicks off Jerry Lewis's career as a director is probably a punchline in itself, as The Bellboy clearly sets a standard of self-involvement and examination in Lewis's work that is so successfully hermetic that it scarcely needs the approval of the audience. (In fact, the film's centerpiece scene portrays Lewis conducting an imaginary orchestra in front of a vast ballroom of empty chairs, in effect suggesting that all the cinema of Jerry Lewis needs is Jerry Lewis.) The Bellboy is nearly silent, in what could easily be taken as a nod toward French comedy titan Jacques Tati, though Lewis centralizes and foregrounds his cinematic alter ego (the bumbling, premasculine social misfit) whereas Tati spent his career trying to move himself back into the fabric of society. It could more likely be that the silent schematic is merely one characteristic of a cinematic work by a man intent on stripping away all elements that might distract from his more immediate themes: celebrity solipsism, as well as the havoc wreaked on solipsism by the intrusion of an alter ego. (It's a theme that would eventually be refined and partially sterilized in The Nutty Professor.)' -- Paste Magazine




The Ladies Man (1961)
'Whether you’re a fan of Lewis’s eccentric comedy or not, this film is worth watching for its legendary “dollhouse” set alone, supposedly the largest built by that time (it occupied two Paramount soundstages), and still one of the most elaborate ever constructed. Within the film, the dollhouse is an all-female boarding house, where Lewis’s character (the woman-hating Herbert Heebert—obviously a stab at the recently published Lolita) rents a room for reasons quite frankly unimportant (i.e., so that there can be a movie). Once ensconced, Lewis restlessly mines the cavernous interior for jokes (did you see the part where he splits into four, four minutes into the above clip?) as well as metatexual play. Unsurprisingly, that set inspired homages in several other films: Jean-Luc Godard and Jean-Pierre Gorin’s Tout va bien, Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York, Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, and others.' -- Big Other



Jerry Lewis on "The Ladies' Man"

The Errand Boy (1961)
'The perfect companion piece for Jerry’s directorial debut The Bellboy, The Errand Boy is both its mirror and its opposite. Again, we’re given a minimally-plotted series of outrageous gags riffing on the misadventures of a lowly schlemiel in a big, pretentious institution — but whereas The Bellboy was a quiet film, a silent film homage in an environment of luxury and relaxation, The Errand Boy is more like a noisy, manic film shoot wrap party capturing all the crazed energy of the biz. It’s also Jerry’s love letter to filmmaking — shot all over the Paramount lot, it’s a virtual documentary of the industry that could have been called “A Day at the Studio.” The film gives you riffs on every aspect of filmmaking, from ADR sessions to test-screenings, and every profession is gently mocked from the mailroom shlubs all the way up to the starlets. A rollicking, raucous, timeless romp!' -- Cinefamily




The Nutty Professor (1963)
'For decades, Jerry Lewis has been the butt of jokes having to do with the French. Despite his particular genius onscreen, and his technical prowess offscreen as an innovative Hollywood director, most Americans have written him off as if to say, "if the French love him so much, they can have him." Even Lewis detractors will begrudgingly admit that The Nutty Professor (1963) is a good and funny film. Lewis plays a dual role as the nerdy weakling Professor Kelp and the arrogant, super-cool nightclub lizard Buddy Love, after the professor invents a formula to make himself stronger and more confident. Mostly he does this to impress his unbearably adorable student Miss Purdy (Playboy Playmate Stella Stevens, in her most famous role). Lewis presents the film with a bright, bold color palate, emphasizing primary candy-store colors, but darkening them for the appropriate moments, such as the first (fairly frightening) transformation sequence. His eye for visual and aural humor really comes out here, as in the sequence when a big buffoon of a student stuffs the professor onto a shelf. We hear the stuffing and the tinkling of glass, and then the student walks across the frame, giving a slow reveal to the visual payoff. Lewis also shows a genius for silence, timing long, quiet moments before a gag, such as visiting the dean's office and sinking into his soft leather chairs with a withering sigh.' -- Combustible Celluloid



Jerry Lewis on 'The Nutty Professor'

The Patsy (1964)
'In one of the most self-reflexive films in the Lewis canon (originally conceived as a sequel called Son of the Bellboy), The Patsy chronicles a young bellboy chosen at random to be transformed into a famous actor, Pygmalion-style, by an out-of-work entourage who just lost their movie star employer in a freak accident. What transpires is a stage-by-stage satire of the Hollywood machine, and some of Jerry’s best signature fake-bad performance pieces — a hapless and hilarious attempt at lip-synching, the ultimate cringe-inducing, cricket-chirping standup act, and a singing lesson that literally brings down the house. Here, Jerry’s perfectionist nature also shines, as the famous “vase” sequence is a master stroke in physical timing — requiring weeks of rehearsal just to stage himself catching a plethora of falling vases in mid-air a fraction of a second before they would smash on the ground. The last of Jerry’s big-budget Paramount pictures, The Patsy closes out an era in style — and with plenty of deep laughs.' -- Cinefamily




The Family Jewels (1965)
'In his Senses of Cinema profile on Jerry Lewis's directorial career, Chris Fujiwara notes that The Family Jewels is something of a transitional film between Lewis's classical period and his diffuse, presumably more uncontrolled films. Considering that it brings back a reasonable facsimile of Dr. Julius from The Nutty Professor, it occasionally plays like the extended version of his film-capping curtain calls. In a storyline that dangles perilously over the edge of cutesiness at a number of turns, Family Jewels centers around a rich, recently orphaned girl, Miss Donna Peyton (Donna Butterworth, in a thankfully unsugary performance that's half precociousness and half tomboy), who will inherit her family's $30 million till if she successfully chooses one of her six uncles to be her new father. Like Nutty Professor, the film's premise seems to center around a very clear set of narrative rules, but they are all but undercut in the first scene by the notion that Donna's most suitable guardian is her family's chauffer Willard (Lewis, who also plays the film's parade of six uncles). The two exchange hugs, kisses, in-jokes, and every other possible iteration of filial love to the extent that the film's eventual plot outcome is as devoid of "suspense" as possible. This accounts for the vaguely funereal tone of the film, set clearly by the scene Fujiwara isolates: the desultorily contemptuous monologue spoken by Donna's Uncle Everett (in clown make-up) about how much he loathes his audience, "squealing brats" all of them.' -- Slant Magazine


JERRY LEWIS directing 'The Family Jewels': tribute

Three on a Couch (1966)
'“There couldn’t be two Christopher Prides,” is one of the first sentences with which Jerry’s character introduces himself. That Pride is an artist given to masquerade and manipulation for reasons of the heart once more underlines the prominence given by Jerry to parallels between his film incarnations and his real-life situation. Overall, Three on a Couch may not be Jerry’s greatest achievement, but the touching and even the dark parts of his shenanigans resonate. Despite a few quintessentially Lewisian detours into the crazy—for example, an incredible, incoherent monologue in entomologist disguise, consisting of perfectly timed rapid-fire half-sentences nervously delivered with utmost conviction—this is the first of his directorial efforts for which he takes no co-writing credit. The screenplay is essentially a typical farce, obliquely reflecting that boulevard theatre perennial Boeing Boeing, the film adaptation of which Jerry had co-starred in a year earlier. Three on a Couch follows Jerry’s deliberate divorce from the “kid” aspect of his persona, already announced in many ways with The Family Jewels. As Pride, he is the romantic lead, whose mounting hysteria is purposely more interesting than anything relating to the three dream-lover types (plus one’s sister) that he impersonates, which register almost as sarcastic self-parodies (cigar-chomping cowboy, nerd scientist, etc.). The film builds to a climax with an extended party scene, but Lewis replaces Blake Edwards’ elegance with his own impressive, increasingly oppressive and nightmarish arrangement of frenetic comedy via crisscrossing encounters. Also worth noting is that the multiplication of Jerry here is a ruse, just a series of performances, and not some surreal proliferation as elsewhere. Stalwart supporter Kathleen Freeman, usually suffering sensationally at the hands of Jerry’s slapstick, is even allowed to switch sides for once—while Buddy Lester climbs new peaks of inebriated inspiration, including an unforgettable cab-door slow-burn—then saves the day after Jerry’s trick has been exposed and only the threat of suicide remains. A work of disconcerting containment.' -- Cinema-scope



The Big Mouth (1967)
'If Thomas Pynchon were a filmmaker instead of a novelist and had directed only The Big Mouth, he might have understandably left it at that—so we should be grateful Jerry stepped in and continued. In the film, individual identity implodes (its arbitrariness, a key Lewis theme, becomes fully threatening) while paranoia is rampant, possibly even inevitable as the only sane reaction to an insane world governed by unspeakable forces—no wonder Jerry as Gary Clamson gives up speaking as the narrative progresses, amplifying the link to The Bellboy with its (almost-)mute Jerry and vacationland premises, this time San Diego in full colour and turned completely sour. Mild-mannered bank examiner Clamson’s annual fishing holiday disintegrates after he (literally) reels in his gangster double and is given a treasure map, which Fu Manchu-type enforcers (ridiculous fake beards included) try to retrieve, resulting in three nervous breakdowns, each hood frozen into an eternal stage of comedy: a dumb dog, a stooge (Larry Fine), and a Buddy Lester showcase of twitching nerves and garbled speech. Police are of no help, but suffer their own breakdown, sidetracked into debating the meaning of their own codes; an FBI agent turns out to have long retreated into mental collapse. Jerry disappears into disguises (Kabuki in Sea World?), but there is no refuge, only hysterical extension (as in the Möbius strip chase moment and the good ol’ leg-stretch gag) or elliptical reduction, as overall breakdown leads towards wanton aggression in all directions. (This is especially true of the finale, in which several protracted showdown possibilities—helicopter rescue; then Clamson cornered by gangsters on the shore only to be saved by the unlikely reappearance of his double—are telegraphed via a handful of quick shots.) Meanwhile, Robert Aldrich’s house composer Frank De Vol strolls around to intermittently interrupt the proceedings as narrator, madly dashing off in the end to expose that he’s not wearing trousers. Painfully funny indeed, The Big Mouth precedes Preminger’s Skidoo and Edwards’ The Party by a year, and like those films is a visionary splintered-society satire cutting through delusions. (What’s real? Advertising and Col. Sanders, who appears in an otherwise pointless cameo.) Only complaint: it should be longer.' -- Cinema-scope




One More Time (1970)
'Understandably, but unfortunately, neglected even by Jerry enthusiasts (and not included in the retrospective, but unearthed on an old VHS tape), this is the only film Jerry directed without starring in: a sequel to Salt and Pepper (1968) with Sammy Davis, Jr. and Peter Lawford as the eponymous groovy-guys duo drawn into a murder plot. Which brings us to the problem with the narrative (much more pronounced here than in Three on a Couch), which weighs down the film with exposition and weak comedic banter, filmed competently enough and allowing for occasional auteurist insights. (There’s a good reason why Jerry usually prefers a freewheeling structure.) But the interest lies elsewhere, in digressions like a butler serving a meal so slowly that inserts show Lawford growing a beard, flowers withering, and white streaks appearing in Davis’ hair, or a non-sequitur trip to the cellar leading to a monstrous line-up unique in horror history, as Davis’ Hammer pals Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing cameo unbilled in their signature roles. Sudden urges for punchy visualizations are welcome, but rare: at a funeral, the leg-parade of hot black-clad groupies sidetracks an assassin’s cross-haired gaze; a weird explanatory flashback while looking at the painting of a castle (the corresponding picture-postcard view on film comes with the end credits). But Jerry is always tickled by performance, notably Davis’ songs and comedy routines, which obviously cannot compare to the Jer. His actors put on acts for each other (a costume party included), and Jerry lavishes the insistent attention on them that he usually centres on himself. It is at times hard to bear, leaving the audience with a koan to contemplate: What’s Jerry without Jerry? (A bandleader’s voice.)' -- Cinema-scope


Which Way to The Front? (1970)
'Probably the most sustained demonstration of rhythmic brilliance in Jerry’s work. He starts out bored at a board meeting, sucking on a pacifier, as palpable exhaustion, even despair, hangs over his richest man in the world, Brendan Byers III, and his staff. These protracted silences are followed by an increasingly breathless movement to a pile-up of rat-a-tat pseudo-Teutonic gibberish, mostly—but not only—by Jerry himself, who is seen preparing by listening to “Music to Mein Kampf By.” Confronted with the draft board’s rejection (the one word that the supercapitalist cannot bear), Byers III insists on “every man’s right to be killed fighting for his country.” The year is supposedly 1943—the insert of the date itself a quiet joke in the opening scene, with decor, attire, haircuts, etc. undisguisedly contemporary, as are later stylistic choices like transition swish-pans and punch line freeze-frames. But how far can you be from Vietnam? The absolutely idiotic yet stroke-of-genius coda even continues (ending) the war in Asia, Jerry-trademarked buck teeth and all. Before that (and long before Tarantino), this Jewish retribution fantasy updates the old Nazi impersonation shtick to The Dirty Dozen (1967) times: buying his own army, Byers starts a private war, leading first to his German double Field Marshal Kesselring, with everybody in the platoon getting to strut their version of his silly walk, before Kesselring is captured in a surreally spasmodic scene, then abruptly replaced by Byers, causing a topsy-turvy confusion. (Soon after, Jerry-as-Byers-as-Kesselring mutilates/decorates a German soldier bearing Lewis’ own birth name, Levitch.) As a finale, there’s the uncanny meeting of finance and Führer, who first performs The Great Dictator (1940) ballet in slow motion, then does a satchel-with-a-bomb exchange pas de deux with Jerry. Which way to the Clown? The mind boggles.' -- Cinema-scope




The Day the Clown Cried (1972)
'Jerry Lewis has sworn repeatedly over the years that he would never let the 1972 movie about a clown who led Jewish children to their deaths during the Holocaust, which he directed and starred in, see the light of day. In the film, Lewis plays a down-on-his-luck German circus clown named Helmut Doork, arrested after drunkenly mocking Adolf Hitler and placed in a concentration camp awaiting trial. He later boards a train headed to Auschwitz packed with Jewish children, and, once there, is forced to perform for them, Pied Piper-style, as they are led to the gas chambers. Helmut joins them in the gas chamber in the film's final scene. The unseen film, its premise seemingly ripe for epic failure, has grown into a cult-obsession for cinephiles over the years. Those few who have seen it say it is as bad as it sounds: "You're stunned," says comedian and The Simpsons voice-actor Harry Shearer, who has seen the full film, of the movie's awfulness.' -- The Hollywood Reporter

"The Day the Clown Cried" Making Of Footage

Jerry Lewis answers THE DAY THE CLOWN CRIED question

Hardly Working (1980)
'What a comeback: “Jerry Lewis Is Hardly Working,” is the pun in the credits, and the shorter, lesser US cut is even front-loaded with a montage of signature moments from earlier films, set to the famous typewriter sketch accompaniment, as if Jerry needed a reintroduction after a decade of big-screen absence. Made on the cheap and on the spot in Florida (closing a circle with The Bellboy), this may be the most melancholic film in the Jerriad despite numerous uproarious bits like the Japanese chef assault. In The Family Jewels, Jerry’s classic clown make-up masked the bad, here it can no longer mask the sad: Bo Hopper, insecure circus performer, has his brief moment of affirmation, then the banks close down his tour. “There is no place for clowns in this world,” Bo later muses (except for politics, he adds: Hardly Working was released first in West Germany 11 days after Ronald Reagan’s inauguration, and over a year later in the US), and his attempts to gain employment are inevitably foiled by a natural penchant for disaster (demonstrations range from elaborate slapstick at a gas station to an off-screen symphony of shattering glass as he’s shown out of a mirror factory). Applying himself as a mishap-prone postal worker, Bo gradually manages to fit in, until he succeeds with a postal delivery tour de force of mechanical precision—he’s become a cog in the machine, but realizes it will cost him his soul. It’s the outsider’s fictional last stand in a real landscape of economic decline, still saturated by commercial content, with Jerry’s generally overemphasized product placement reaching the point of inversion: the world itself has become a billboard. It’s product as magic potion, as phrased in the opening narration of The Errand Boy (1961), whose depressive undertow has spread outwards from Hollywood to conquer the Earth. Down to Jerry’s disappearance into the landscape in an undistinguished last shot, this would have been a perfect final film.' -- Cinema-scope




Cracking Up (1983)
'Thus, inevitably, he made another, making the ever-present concept of suicide in Jerry’s films (literally or artistic, attempted or accidental) the through-line for a last loose, soaring series of sketches, stripped down to essentials. Jerry—”Who else?” asks the credits, while Marcel Marceau beautifully sings the main theme—plays Warren Nefron, first seen failing to end his life (loose noose, etc.) until a gunshot is discharged into a TV set, which shoots back: the world reclaimed as stage for a final performance, including a bit of bank-robbing turned musical show for the surveillance camera, or minutes of meticulous slipping and sliding on squeaky furniture and a red studio floor in the office of a psychiatrist whom Warren regales with his grotesque family history reaching back to 15th-century France. There are further misguided suicide attempts: dousing himself in gasoline, Jerry casually searches his pockets only to realize he has forgotten a lighter, then stoically wanders off in wet defeat as the wind whistles. Ultimately redemption is glimpsed, although the rest of the world is instantly engulfed by chaos again. A tacked-on last scene shows Jerry leaving a screening, asked how the movie was: “It’s really good, you know!” The only possible shortcoming, as pointed out by Jerry expert Chris Fujiwara: “Too entertaining.”' -- Cinema-scope

the entire film


p.s. Hey. ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi, Ben. Yeah, Antonio was brilliance central. I hope your confab at the pub with your fellow artists lifted your spirits and unearthed a great way forward. Exactly, about the voting stats. It's like in the US where you can't help but twiddle your fingers waiting for the geriatric Far Right majority to meet their fantasy Maker. I haven't seen anything in the news about that rioting. Weird. Maybe there will be by the time I finish this. Jesus, why were they rioting? I mean, they won, right? ** David Ehrenstein, I know, I know, Antonio, yeah. I saw your email upon awakening, and I'll get it shortly. Thank you! ** Tosh Berman, Hi, Tosh. 'Piano' is terrific, but, if my choice of book by him to spotlight hadn't been decided by whether there was an excerpt online that I could use, I would have chosen '14', which is my favorite of his and my recommendation as the place to start with him if you have it in your arsenal. Weird how that happens about being on fire inside and financially crimped on the outside. Ever more daring is the way to go, I'm certainly a billion percent high fiving you about that. But, hey, you're off to Tokyo soon, you lucky, lucky dog! ** Steevee, Hi, Steve, Thanks much for the link. I'll get to read your article very shortly. Everyone, Here's the great Steevee aka Steve Erickson writing about the New York Film Festival for those of us who can't go, and, well, those you of you who can. A must read! ** Etc etc etc, Hi, man! Wow, weird Beckett adaptation indeed. Which play was it? It sounds like it might be 'Happy Days'? Too bad, even if the word Halloween in your description made me wish I could see it. I'm a Halloween slut, don't you know. Ah, you're in the waiting game phase re: publishers/mss. Charming phase, not. 'Vape' is a really nice title. Actually, so is 'Exsanguination', whatever that means. I'll google it. If I notice openings amongst alt lit publishers, I'll remember to pass what I see on to you. You writing about your writing thoughts and plans is really exciting! No, sorry, I haven't read the thing you sent yet. I'm so behind right now, but if I can get the final film project's nail nailed in the next couple of days, I'll be a lot more like my usual receptive, hungry self. Yeah, Ariel's visual art stuff was really good, I wonder if he still does visual stuff with diligence. Best of luck and a superb weekend to you too! ** Sypha, 'Third Reich and Roll' was the only Residents album I really, really liked. I'll try it again and see what happens. And, yeah, their 'Satisfaction' is insane. ** Cal Graves, Hi, Cal! 'Ravenous' is cool. It's not the answer to anyone's prayers or anything, but I think it was fun. Oh, yeah, 'Hausu' is completely bonkers and great! I love it too. Do you have cool plans and things to do or make in store this weekend? Have a great one! ** Chris Dankland, Hi, Chris. Yeah, just be confident, and it'll be great, I promise you. And, yeah, let me know how the preparations and/or it itself go. I'll go look for your email when I'm done here. Thanks! Very cool about your writing going so well! I love your idea of the stories being grounded in a single Houston day. Why July 20th? Is it a secret? I'm way into the hyper compressed method. It's also really exciting to edit things that way, or it is for me. I've never read 'Manhattan Transfer', huh. I haven't read Dos Passos in, like, forever. What an interesting idea to try reading him now. Is that novel a particular favorite of yours? Of his? You have a totally splendid weekend, man. ** Kier, Hi, K-man! Oh, that's okay about the blog posts, gosh, no problem, enjoy the joys of the IRL! Wow, what a fantastic day and night you had! So great about the show and about your work's dominance of it. Did you take any installation pix, asks greedy me? My Friday can't compete with that, but it was cool. I met up with the awesome artist and d.l. Jonathan Mayhew who's in Paris for a while staying at another artists residency building. It was great to see him. We did the Paris thing of walking around and having a coffee in a cafe plus blabbing. We saw the Larry Clark show at Agnes B's gallery. I thought it was piss-poor. The photos of the usual naked skateboarder boys were so tired and predictable, they were like cobwebs. The collages were very same-old same-old. And he's painting now, and they were just awful, barely competent things. A drag of a show, but it was fun to walk through it grousing. Other than that, my day was mostly spent trying to find that person to organize our film footage. Nothing yet, but some hope and leads. And some writing, which went okay. It was all right. I'm aiming for a cool weekend. Tomorrow night, I think, I'm going to see Psychic TV with this guy Paul, who was in our film and who I like a lot. I have to get a bunch of work done on the new Gisele piece 'cos I'm seeing her on Sunday and she wants a progress report. Stuff like that. I hope you milk all the excitement out of Oslo that you can this weekend and that you'll tell me all about it! ** Misanthrope, Yep, about Antonio. I hate death. Wow, a body building contest. Was it, like, interesting? I guess it would have to be somehow. But, oh shit, I just read your comment about what happened with LPS and his mom. Good god, man, that's horrible! And, horribly, based on what you've said about that situation, depressingly not a huge surprise, Jesus Christ, I hope he's okay, and I hope she's okay, and I hope this is some kind of wake up call that changes things for him. I'm so, so sorry to hear that, George. Let me know what happens please. Lots of love to you! ** Okay. I'm kind of guessing that the post this weekend has inspired a wtf out there. I don't know. There's so much negative stuff about Jerry Lewis flying around these days, and maybe he deserves it as a dude, I don't know, but I'm a fan of his filmmaking, and I guess I thought I'd put some emphasis on his work as a Director this weekend just to be sincere and perverse or something. I think 'The Bellboy' is a great film, and that a few of his other early films are almost great, and there you go. It would be cool if people felt like commenting on his films, pro or neg, and not just talking about his possible unpleasantness as a guy, but, hey, that's up to you. See you on Monday.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Spotlight on ... Jean Echenoz Piano (2004)

'Since the publication of his first novel, Le Méridien de Greenwich (The Greenwich Meridian, 1979), Jean Echenoz’s reputation as a writer has described an ascendant trajectory, much like that of the space shuttle he puts on stage in Nous trois (We Three, 1992). With eleven books at the Editions de Minuit, he can now lay claim to a body of work that is as distinguished and as varied as that of any living novelist in France. It should be recalled that Minuit offered a home to the New Novel in the 1950s, launching figures such as Alain Robbe-Grillet, Nathalie Sarraute, Michel Butor, Marguerite Duras, Robert Pinget, and Claude Simon into the literary ether.

'Though their theories and practices of the novel are more diverse than those of their precursors, it now seems clear that the new Minuit writers, most of whom inaugurated their careers in the 1980s (I’m thinking of people like Jean-Philippe Toussaint, Marie Redonnet, Eric Chevillard, Christian Oster, Marie NDiaye, and Christian Gailly, to name just a few), have done just as much as the New Novelists in terms of rethinking the fundamental terms of the novel as a cultural form and suggesting intriguing new paths for that form. Without a doubt moreover, Jean Echenoz has played a crucial, indeed determinative role in that dynamic.

'Piano is a French novel, a very French novel. The author won the Prix Goncourt for an earlier book and this one carries hints of Voltaire and Sartre. The publishers suggest that Piano can be read as a metaphor of life and death, heaven and hell; Dante is invoked. Daunting stuff, you might think. A thin book, it comes wrapped in heavyweight literary packaging — in France Jean Echenoz is rated alongside Beckett and Nabokov. But what lies inside this intellectual bombe surprise is a sharp, airy sorbet that slips down with great ease: an existential thriller of the sort that might once have been turned into a movie by Jean Cocteau. It’s a deadpan, elegant and wittily observed tragicomedy: posh French fun.

'In Piano, the musician protagonist Max spends the first section in a state of advanced alcoholism, to conquer stage fright, and the last two as dead, from which state he returns as "Paul" to the "urban zone" of life. A dead hero is entirely appropriate to classical subjects with Greek references. One could almost say that Max the pianist makes the transition from pathos to bathos when recycled as Paul. Others will no doubt invoke Virgil as Dante's guide through the Inferno, or even Sartre's "Hell is other people" from Huis Clos - to which, apart from the claustrophobia of the concert halls where Max performs, Piano happily bears no resemblance.

'It is perhaps a reflection of a modern inability to deal squarely with death that an afterlife so eludes our conception. Echenoz has, therefore, opted for the tradition of a public life on earth, where much is achieved despite the waste of personal experience. Max's Purgatory is something to be escaped at the earliest opportunity, even when founded on sensual fulfilment rather than denial; and Hell is the ultimate inescapable place, where disappointment is all.

'Echenoz uses dollops of interior monologue, which magnify Max's neuroses. In several instances, he becomes an intruding author, injecting playful asides, which are interesting but risky, as they are not at all germane to the plot. Even so, this device contributes garnish to an enjoyable read that stands out for its good writing and inventiveness.

'Echenoz has produced a superb and stunning body of fiction. His sense of pace is flawless. His characters wander into situations of dazzling incongruity as if the incongruous itself were the first principle of the human condition -- and upon finishing Piano, his readers, both amused and bemused, may be persuaded that such is indeed the case.' -- collaged



'Reading Jean Echenoz'
Hallucinating Rhythm: The Parisian Dreamscape of Jean Echenoz
'The Uses of Brevity:
Valuing the “No More to Be Said” in Jean Echenoz'

'Piano' @ The Complete Review
Jean Echenoz @ goodreads
'At last - a French novel that's just the ticket'
'Anthem for Doomed Youth:” Jean Echenoz’s 1914'
'How do you read a novel in another language?'
'The “Lightweight” Gallows Humor of Jean Echenoz
'A Window Onto Comic Tedium'
'Je ne vois pas bien ma place dans les académies'
Jean Echenoz @ France Culture
'Les facéties de Jean Echenoz'
Video: 'Jean Echenoz : écrire, un état prenant'
'Jean Echenoz, auteur postmoderne?'
'Jean Echenoz: "Je ne crois pas du tout à l'inspiration, plutôt à l'obstination"'


Jean Echenoz, entretien, Interlignes, Dominique Antoine

Lydia Davis and Jean Echenoz read at the 92nd Street Y

Harry Mathews Le son de Jean Echenoz

Jean Echenoz vous présente son ouvrage "14"


Et la discrétion dont vous vous entouriez ? Vous êtes-vous senti agressé ?

Jean Echenoz: Pas agressé, mais simplement fatigué, éprouvé par la médiatisation que ce prix engendre. Je suis resté allongé deux jours entiers après pour me reposer ! Et la " fausse " biographie que j'ai fait paraître pour les communiqués de presse n'était pas destinée à dérouter les journalistes et encore moins à se moquer de qui que ce soit, même si cette histoire me suit encore quinze ans après ! On m'avait demandé d'écrire une notice autobiographique. Un piège narcissique dans lequel je ne souhaitais pas tomber : j'ai écrit quatre lignes, ne souhaitant pas exposer certaines choses de ma vie ni commenter mon travail, puis je me suis aperçu que cela n'avait aucun intérêt. Et comme je suis un écrivain de fiction, je me suis servi d'elle et d'une sorte de pudeur pour écrire quelque chose de totalement différent.

Le goût de l'écriture ?

JE: Il m'est venu très jeune, vers dix douze ans. Je ne savais pas du tout la forme qu'il prendrait, presse ou autre ; mais la littérature étant ce qui m'a toujours passionné, c'est naturellement vers elle que je suis allé... Je composais souvent des petits textes, des commencements de fiction, des poèmes comme tout le monde (que j'ai heureusement perdus ! Rires…) et j'avais ébauché un roman épistolaire. Cet apprentissage tendait in fine vers le roman, et mes perspectives et ambitions ont rencontré le besoin urgent de la concrétisation. J'ai alors appris que l'on devait retravailler les premiers jets, revenir sur ce qui vient sous la plume pour lui donner une profondeur et un relief véritable.

Des événements, rencontres ou influences déterminantes ?

JE: Je relis certains écrivains de manière fréquente, tels que Flaubert, Nabokov, Queneau, qui sont pour moi des fenêtres importantes. La rencontre déterminante : mon éditeur. Je souhaitais publier chez Minuit depuis le début.

Vous vous êtes donc immédiatement tourné vers Jérôme Lindon ?

JE: Justement non ! Minuit me semblait tellement sérieuse, rigoureuse… Je n'osais pas leur envoyer mon travail, que j'estimais presque " indigne " d'elle, je pensais que les éditeurs ne l'accepteraient jamais. Je l'ai donc envoyé à toutes les autres maisons d'édition, et ma collection de lettres de refus était telle que j'ai pensé qu'il fallait que j'aie également celle de Minuit. La seule qui n'est pas venue…

Ecrivez-vous pour vous ou pour les autres ?

JE: J'écris pour moi en tant que lecteur. J'écris ce que je souhaiterais lire, espérant que mes vœux en rejoignent d'autres similaires. Je pense que l'écrivain n'a pas de mission précise ou de message particulier à transmettre ; il doit simplement un certain respect à l'écriture elle-même, à la fiction. L'écrivain doit offrir le témoignage d'amour de la prose et de la littérature le meilleur possible, le plus vrai, le plus passionné.

Vous sentez-vous crevé, vidé après avoir terminé l'écriture d'un roman ?

JE: L'écriture est très physique : donc crevé, mais pas vidé. La dernière version d'un ouvrage est la plus fatigante mais la plus intéressante, c'est également un temps ou d'autres idées naissent, où d'autres projets se mettent en place. Une période ou l'on se place dans " l'après ", ou, personnellement, j'essaie toujours de prendre le contre-pied de ce que j'ai dit et écrit auparavant… L'occasion de " casser une mécanique " qui s'est mise en place pour ne pas se répéter. Donc jamais de vide ; plutôt soulagé, libéré et déjà dans une réalisation future !

Dans une recherche de perfection ?

JE: Evidemment, comme tout écrivain qui se respecte et respecte son lecteur, quel qu'il soit. Je ne retravaille pas mes manuscrits avec l'éditeur, à une exception près, où il m'a aidé à revenir sur la fin d'un livre. J'en ai d'abord été catastrophé et suis rentré chez moi abattu. Je me suis penché à nouveau sur la partie en question, puis finalement sur l'ensemble. L'intervention de Jérôme et Irène a fait gagner à mon travail en qualité et en cohérence ; un bel exemple de la collaboration entre écrivain et éditeur qui porte ses fruits !

Vos voyages, source d'inspiration ?

JE: Je crois surtout à l'obstination dans l'écriture, et pas tellement à l'inspiration. Je suis parti en Inde dans la perspective d'utiliser certaines notes pour l'écriture de Les grandes blondes. En rentrant, il m'a semblé que tout le voyage n'avait été qu'un prétexte à prendre des vacances et à retrouver l'Inde, mais finalement ces écrits de deux mois m'ont beaucoup servi quelques temps après. Ce que j'avais failli jeter s'est révélé précieux.

Vos romans vous conduisent sans cesse à l'étranger, dans des périples et des endroits divers… Votre goût pour ces découpages spacio-temporels ?

JE: Cela tient sans doute à mon amour du mouvement, à mon attirance pour les départs, l'exploration incessante de lieux différents. Les lieux sont des moteurs de fiction aussi importants que les personnages ; et le découpage du temps, ternaire pour le voyage (visible dans les trois parties), binaire pour les protagonistes (les allers-retours de Félix à Delahaye) de Je m'en vais, viennent lui donner un rythme particulier je crois, même s'il n'était pas évident à agencer !


Jean Echenoz Piano
The New Press

'Max Delmarc, age fifty, is a famous concert pianist with two problems: the first is a paralyzing stage fright for which the second, alcohol, is the only treatment. In this unparalleled comedy from the Prix Goncourt–winning French novelist Jean Echenoz, we journey with Max, from the trials of his everyday life, through his untimely death, and on into the afterlife.

'After a brief stay in purgatory—part luxury hotel, part minimum security prison, under the supervision of deceased celebrities—Max is cast into an alarmingly familiar partition of hell, “the urban zone,” a dark and cloudy city much like his native Paris on an eternally bad day. Unable to play his beloved piano or stomach his needed drink, Max engages in a hapless struggle to piece his former life back together while searching in vain for the woman he once loved.

'An acclaimed bestseller with 50,000 copies sold in France, Piano is a sly, sardonic evocation of Dante and Sartre for the present day, the playful, daring masterpiece of a novelist at the top of his form.' -- The New Press


One, slightly taller than average says nothing. Under a large, light-colored raincoat buttoned to the neck, he is wearing a black suit with a black bow tie. Small cufflinks with onyx-quartz mounts punctuate his immaculate wrists. He is, in short, very well dressed, though his pallid face and gaping eyes suggest a worried frame of mind. His white hair is brushed back. He is afraid. He is going to die a violent death in twenty-two days but, as he is yet unaware of this, that is not what he is afraid of.


After disembodied voices had given the countdown, the concert could begin. The conductor was fairly exasperating, full of mannered grimances, unctuous and enveloping motions, coded little signs addressed to different categories of performers, fingers on his lips and inopportune thrusts of his hips. Following his lead, the instrumentalists themselves began to act like wise guys: taking advantage of a frill in the score that allowed him to shine a little, to stand out from the masses for the space of a few measures, an oboist demonstrated extreme concentration, even overplaying it to win the right to a close-up. Thanks to several highlighted phrases allocated to them, two English horns also did their little number a moment later. And Max, who had quickly lost the scrap of stage fright that had held him that day and was even starting to feel bored, himself began to make pianist faces in turn, looking preoccupied, pulling his head deep into his shoulders or excessively arching his back, depending on the tempo; smiling at the instrument, the work, the very essence of music, himself — you have to keep interested somehow.


White in color and emerging from who knows where, this second figure seemed gently but firmly to admonish Yellow Bathrobe, who immediately vanished. Apparently White Silhouette then noticed Max, who watched it walk toward him, become transformed in its approach into a young woman who was the spitting image of Peggy Lee — tall, nurse’s blouse, very light hair pulled back and held with a hair tie. With the same implacable softness, she enjoined Max to go back into his room.

“You have to stay in here,” she said — moreover in Peggy Lee’s voice. “Someone will be here to see you soon.

“But,” started Max, getting no further, as the young woman immediately negated this incipient objection with a light rustllng of her fingers, deployed like a flight of birds in the air between them. When you get down to it, she did look phenomenally like Peggy Lee, the same kind of big, milk-fed blonde, with a fleshy, wide mouth, and excessive lower lip forming the permanent smile of a zealous camp counselor. More reassuring than arousing, she exuded complete wholesomeness and strict morals.


As nothing special is happening in this scene, we might take the time to look closely at this ticket. There's actually a lot that can be said about these tickets, about their secondary uses - toothpick, fingernail scraper, or paper cutter, guitar pick or plectrum, bookmark, crumb sweeper, conduit or straw for controlled substances, awning for a doll's house, micro-notebook, souvenir, or support for a phone number that you scribble for a girl in case of emergency - and their various fates - folded lengthwise in halves or quarters and liable to be slid under an engagement ring, signet ring, or wristwatch; folded in six or even eight in accordion fashion, ripped into confetti, peeled in a spiral like an apple, then tossed into the wastepaper-baskets of the metro system, on the floor of the system, between the tracks of the system, or even cast out of the system, in the gutter, the street, at home to play heads or tails: heads magnetic stripe, tails printed side - but perhaps this isn't the moment to go into all of that.


p.s. Hey. ** EmptyFrame, Hi. Well, of course it's weird, sad to read your enthusiastic comment from before the Scotland results. Urgh. It's always so hard to know/say what France thinks about anything since its name and borders don't enclose a monolith, obviously, and I don't how one would suss 'secretly pleased'. People I know here were very interested in the Scottish independence vote and supportive of the Yes side. Oh, you know, that Le Pen lurking like a shark thing is so overblown by the media outside of France, as scary as her slice of support is. It's interesting the fantasies, both pos and neg, that France inspires in the non-French. But, you know, I have this anti-generalization mindset, for better or worse. My understanding is that there are some kind of distribution deals in place for our film in the US, France, and I think in Germany, and I think the rest is a wait and see thing depend ending on how the film is received at festivals and what offers come as a result. There's a question as to whether the amount of actual, shown sex in the film, which is so much less than we had originally envisioned, will prevent it from getting a release in the UK, given the struct rules about such stuff there. We'll see. In any case, it's for cinema release, theoretically at least. Art cinemas at most, I would guess. No, the film was more clear-cut in script form, and it became much more abstract and impressionistic during its realization due to Zac's very poetic visual notions. Working with Zac on the film was a sublime, unmatchable experience, and we're already working on two more collaborations, a book and a screenplay. Hard to compare it to working with Gisele. It was similar but also very different. Love to you too, man, and hugs about the disappointing referendum results. ** Scunnard, Bjork to Blatz, ha ha. It's weird how the strictest and most basic of structures can cause hallucinations. Good question about Blatz. You've got me. I forget a lot that Blonde Redhead used to be so good. Recent stuff by them sounds bland as shit to me. The Faint! I have this huge guilty pleasure love for their song 'Agenda Suicide'. Wow, I don't think I've listened to The Residents in maybe ten, fifteen years. Curious how that holds us. My instincts gather that their stuff doesn't hold up at all and that they probably sound like a transgressive Weird Al Yankovic now or something. Right now I'm tracking down someone to organize the film's raw footage so Zac (and I to some degree) can start editing in about 3 weeks. Sad about the Scotland thing. Or at least sad from over here. ** Gregoryedwin, Hey! It's very cool thing to see you in here, man! Wowzer! Sure, ask me via email, and I promise that I will even look for it, open it, and respond swiftly, which is not something I'm normally good at. So ask away! So good to see you! ** Damien Ark, Hi, Damien! It's so weird when Blogger erases comments. It does that once in a while, and I have no idea what the problem is, and people with blogs always complain about that to the Blogger higher-ups, and it never gets fixed. Yeah, definitely, of course, and a big please about you writing something for here whenever you want and in whatever form you like. I'd be totally happy, honored, etc. Thanks! ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. Yeah, Graeff was quite the character. Thanks for the link. Everyone, if you want to dig further into Tom Graeff, Mr. Ehrenstein provided a link to the Queer History Project page on Facebook where there's stuff about him. I will tell Christophe that, and he'll be very happy, I assure you. Cool! I hope someplace has the brains to publish it. ** Tosh Berman, Hi Tosh! Aw, thanks a lot, sir. I certainly can and do say the same about your place! ** Bill, Hi, Bill. I hadn't seen that. Cool. Everyone, d.l. Bill offers to link you over to a cool thing called 'These Portraits Of Moroccan Hipsters Are More Nuanced Than They Look'. A tap on those words is recommended. I hate when chaos isn't useful. Chaos really should behave itself and use its considerable powers for good. Sorry to hear that. What are you seeing and what are you preparing? Possible to say? ** Kier, Kier! You're there and here at the same time! Nice that you're hanging with Ottar. Jazz club, terrible band, hm, yeah, let me know how terrible it was. I think 'Homme au bain' is on DVD in the US. Hold on. I'll check. Yeah, here. How did you end up spending your night? My day was pretty uninteresting to describe. I mostly wrote emails and made phone calls trying to find that person we need to do the film footage organizing job. I'm hoping to get helpful responses today. I worked some on my novel and on Gisele's new theater piece. I continued the planning for Zac's and my NYC/Iceland trip. This favorite artist of mine asked me if I would write a recommendation letter re: his application for a Guggenheim grant, and I said yes, of course. Yeah, it was just one of those mostly stay at home and do regular stuff kind of day. I'll try to be more interesting today. Oh, you bet, about the alert on your show. Everyone, and especially anyone who's in or near Oslo, Norway, d.l. Kier aka the great artist Kier Cooke Sandvik is in a super interesting sounding group exhibition called 'Unshelling and Shelling Again', and it opens tonight at a space called Diorama, and if you're incredibly lucky enough to be able to go, do so, and here is all the information you need re: getting there and when and so forth. So, you no doubt had a very, very interesting day today and night tonight, and please tell me all about it. Love from Paris and me! ** Sypha, Yeah, the Jesus as hunk painting seemed like it was everywhere at one point. Think I'll skip the Butler then. I'm sorry about the pain you're feeling about your ex-friend's further removal from you. Hugs. ** Cal Graves, Hi, Cal. I like your poems a whole lot. All of them even. They're super smart and graceful and surprising and complicated inside and weirdly, beautifully calm on the outside in this really intriguing way. Thank you, and it'll be great to get to know more of your work! Maybe you saw that the awesome Chris Dankland mentioned really liking your poems yesterday too. I can't remember much about 'Europa', but, yeah, 'El Topo' is very trippy. His film 'Holy Mountain' is too, if not even more so. Good cannibal movies ... hm, wow, I can't think of anything really great. I mean, the obvious ones like 'Cannibal Holocaust' and 'Ravenous' and 'Sweeney Todd' are cool. When I was working on my novel 'The Marbled Swarm' and researching cannibal stuff, someone recommended two cannibalism movies that he said were really gruesome but fun, and I never actually watched them. According to my notes, their titles are 'Human Pork Chop' and 'The Untold Story - Part 1&2'. Have a good day! ** _Black_Acrylic, I'm so sorry, Ben. I was really hoping. So many of us were. I hope you're doing okay. And I hope that, mere compensation though it would be, that the Cameron government ponies up with empowering stuff. Hugs. ** Steevee, Hi. Oh, cool, I look forward to both of your articles a lot! ** Delilah Hannu, Hi, Dovey! It's really lovely to see you! Thank you so much for thinking of my humble blog and speaking of Antonio's incredible importance to this place, to me, to us. I miss him and think about him all the time. Oh, that amazing video! I'm going to embed it for everyone. Everyone, Delilah Hannu is the mother of the late, extremely missed artist Antonio Urdiales, one of the most genius people I've ever known in my life and, for a long, amazing time, a regular and extremely important member of the commenting gang here. She linked us up to a great, crazy video Antonio made for this blog a few years ago called 'The Weaklings', and I'm going to embed it at the bottom of the p.s. so all of you can watch it. Thank you so much, Dovey, and I send you such great respect and love! ** Misanthrope, Hi. 'In that way', hm. Okay, if you say so, buddy, ha ha. Cool, I'll go look at the tiny little football guy running around minuscule-y as soon as I get the hell out of here. Thank you for it and for your diligence. ** Chris Dankland, Hi, Chris! Thanks a lot for reading Cal's poems and for speaking to him! Cool, yeah, that Andy Pratt album is a lost, overlooked classic, I think. His best by far. So glad you liked it. You're interviewing Alissa Nutting, very cool! Yeah, I get so stressed before I interview someone, and, like, whoa, so much so when it's someone I really admire. I mean, I had the chance to interview my god Robert Pollard for BOMB at one point, and I was so intimidated that I wound up canceling out, which I, of course, have forever regretted. In my experience, the pre-stress almost always ends up being a phantom fear based on trying to imagine and pre-determine what a one-on-one will be like, and it's never the scare-fest it seems like it would be when the interviewee is a victim of that weird, distorting combination of fandom and general self-doubts. I don't really going into interviews with a philosophy or anything. I will say that, for me, in-person interviews tend to go much, much better than phoners or interviews by email. And I think my luck there is really specific to me, and it has mostly to do with the fact that the people I interview often have a pre-set idea of what I'm going to be like based on my books and stuff, and then, of course, I'm nice and pretty un-intimidating in person, and I think that kind of surprises and confuses and relaxes them in some weird way that makes the interview/conversations go kind of smoothly and easily. That's my theory anyway. Look, you're a super-smart guy with a totally unique mind, and I swear to god if you just ask her questions that you personally are really interested to hear the answers to and avoid that thing where you construct questions based on what you think an interviewer 'should' ask her, it'll go great. And she seems really cool and nice whenever I see her presence do things in social media. Don't sweat it, really. Awesome if 'TMS' has invaded your dreams. I kind of wanted it to have the possibility of existing outside of itself and becoming a labyrinthine construction of the reader's autonomous imagination. Like, you know, a drug or something. Anyway, thank you, very cool. Let me know how the interview goes, if you don't mind. How is your stories-writing going? ** Rewritedept, Hi. Mm, maybe next week would be better. I really need to find and hire that guy, and it's not proving to be as easy as I hoped. My day wasn't boring, but, if I tried to describe it in detail, you would probably be bored. GbV split again? That's news to me. Oh, I don't know, it's all and always very fluid in that camp, so who knows? ** Hyemin K, Hi. Cold sesame noodle is the Bresson of edible substances in my book. Especially Szechuan style. It's totally okay about the post. Your own work is the infinitely more important thing. Thank you kindly for buying those books. I like 'Jerk', but I think the theatrical adaptation I did with Gisele is much better than the original text. ** Jeffrey Coleman, Hi, Jeff. I was happy to have the band camp links. The more the merrier, for sure. Thank you again a lot! ** Okay. A bit back in time, Chilly Jay Chill asked me if I had done a post on Jean Echenoz, and I realized that I hadn't, so I did, thanks to CJC. Echenoz is a big, respected deal in France, but he's a lot less known elsewhere, and he can be pretty great, so I hope you like discovering him, if you are a discoverer, or seeing the props, if you're already a fan. See you tomorrow.

ijĒŞǙŞ ҚĦŖİŞŢ aka Antonio Urdiales 'The Weaklings'