From Book 3: Smuggling Artaud

            The Sainte-Anne hospital was a walled compound like a mini-medieval city. It stood not far from the studios of René Thomas and Sonia Mossé. Desnos told us about it after we met. Sainte-Anne had been constructed in the thirteenth century and was named after, of all people, the patron saint Anne of Austria, thatContinue reading “From Book 3: Smuggling Artaud”

From Book 2: I Love You, Part One

            The great Desnos, scrawler of surreal graffiti. One thing for sure, that man was drinking too much lately. It worried me. When he drank his mood-swings became even worse. He would stay drunk for days. Yvonne George, herself drowning in the laudanum bottle, was now ignoring him completely while Breton yelled in the man’sContinue reading “From Book 2: I Love You, Part One”

From Book 4: The Prisoner

            In early 1938, at the urging of Artaud’s family and with the intercession of Jean Paulhan, Antonin Artaud was finally transferred from the Quatre-Mares asylum at Rouen to Sainte-Anne, an asylum south of Montparnasse, that mini-walled city near the studios of Sonia Mossé and René Thomas. First Artaud’s mother, now almost seventy years old,Continue reading “From Book 4: The Prisoner”

From Book 3: Artaud d’Arc

            None of us had the nerve to step into the outer office to tell Artaud’s mother and his sister this news. I sat at the desk and tried to calm myself while Louis and Desnos paced around wordlessly. When Paulhan returned half an hour later, I repeated the news for him. After leaving IrelandContinue reading “From Book 3: Artaud d’Arc”

From Book 2: The Sex Discussions, Part Two

           This section is presented in its entirety. “I don’t know where my story begins,” I said. “And I wonder if that’s not a lie too, that any story has a beginning. Life just happens and we pick a point and say, ‘It started here,’ when it didn’t really start there, even with one’s birth.”            Continue reading “From Book 2: The Sex Discussions, Part Two”

From Book 2: The Sex Discussions, Part One

Desnos never locked his door and now this worried me. When I stepped inside I saw a lit candle in a far corner. Artaud lay there on a mattress, and someone lay next to him. Desnos was asleep on his sofa and Roger and Justine lay tangled on his regular mattress, but everyone else hadContinue reading “From Book 2: The Sex Discussions, Part One”

From Book 2: In Total Darkness

            February days turned grey with rain. Trapped inside, I fled the café scene for Louis’s small apartment. We spent a great deal of time together, for the two of us were seeing very little of our other friends lately. “We’re the only people who aren’t successful,” Louis joked, “or failing successfully.”             Justine modeledContinue reading “From Book 2: In Total Darkness”

From Book One: Fernand

            Outside the train station Marseilles greeted me with her heat and her noise and her dirt, so frightening to me as a child. Now I welcomed the jostling crowd, the colorful frocks, the flash of bright eyes and teeth, the smell of sweat and of perfume, the many swaggering languages. Palm trees and molderingContinue reading “From Book One: Fernand”

From Book 3: This Ragamuffin

            “And could that be why,” Barrault interrupted, “Artaud is angry with me?”             He sounded stricken. I turned to him again and saw the pain in his eyes. He was, after all, just a kid. “Barrault, what has happened?”             Barrault sighed. “We’ve spent so much time together and shared so many ideas thatContinue reading “From Book 3: This Ragamuffin”