From Book 2: Kiki, Foujita, and Duchamp

            Kiki of Montparnasse was a voluptuous, ribald woman with a mop of curly brown hair. Born into poverty in the provinces, she had traveled to Paris for work and and was adopted by the artists who gave Montparnasse its special life. Kiki sang in nightclubs and painted and modeled for Man Ray’s bizarre photographs.Continue reading “From Book 2: Kiki, Foujita, and Duchamp”

From Book 2: Breton's Speech

We were crossing a long, grassy mall toward a soot-darkened stone edifice, very square and squat, with dull beige tracery. A dilapidated iron balcony in a recessed alcove overlooked the long rows of steps to the entrance, where two huge oak doors were propped open. I swore when I saw Youki Foujita disengage herself fromContinue reading “From Book 2: Breton's Speech”

From Book 2: The Sex Discussions

Author’s note: What Antonin Artaud had to say about sexuality can raise the hair on your neck and it did mine, at first – but you have to dig deeper to understand that the mania-catatonia that dogged him all his life extended into his sex life in the form of swings between uncontrollable erections andContinue reading “From Book 2: The Sex Discussions”

From Book 2: Waking Dream

            Suddenly, Desnos reappeared. “Hey, everyone,” he interjected, in a snotty tone of false enthusiasm. He gave me a shriveling look. He was so unforgiving! Angered now, I slumped in my chair, shaking my head at him. “Let’s revive an old Surrealist tradition. In honor of our uninitiated guests.” His glare was definitely for me.Continue reading “From Book 2: Waking Dream”

From Book 2: L'Étoile de Mer

Author’s note: My protagonist, yoked to a six-pointed starfish, changes the histories of real people’s lives by entering them, bringing with him the spectre of Fantômas and the possibility of love. Therefore his perception of Desnos’s film is his own. “Let it go, Geoffrey,” Desnos repeated. “Lay low for a couple of weeks.”             “You’reContinue reading “From Book 2: L'Étoile de Mer”

From Book 2: Desnos, the Select, and Theatre Alfred Jarry

Author’s note: I have long been frustrated with misinterpretations of Artaud merely as “mad,” a cold person, and a failure. Like Martin Esslin correcting the Beats’ version of Artaud, Kimberly Jannarone unearths the powerful admiration Artaud’s friends and colleagues had for him and I am grateful to her for restoring the Theatre Alfred Jarry toContinue reading “From Book 2: Desnos, the Select, and Theatre Alfred Jarry”

From Book 2: Jacques Vaché

Author’s note: Jokes about and variations on the slur “po-wet” and references to the Three Musketeers are central to the novels. The blindfold came off and I looked around, bewildered, as we entered the metro again. It was jammed with people. “Toward Charenton!” Roger announced, seeing my blank look.             “To check ourselves in?” IContinue reading “From Book 2: Jacques Vaché”

From Book 2: Insulting Priests

Consumed by guilt, I haunted the streets and the cafés, though I was beginning to tire of the crowds of sullen businessmen, and the snippy flirts who never fell in love, and the cynical young bohemians leaning over their tables to interrupt each other. Although I had not approached the Surrealist Research Bureau since thatContinue reading “From Book 2: Insulting Priests”

From Book 2: What Does Rrose Selavy Look Like?

            After the ruckus had spilled into the street, I went backstage to say something to Artaud—I didn’t know what, something encouraging, comforting. But he was already talking to André Breton, and I heard the other side of the Youki story. Artaud listened sympathetically as Breton, who knew that Artaud and Desnos were still goodContinue reading “From Book 2: What Does Rrose Selavy Look Like?”

From Book 2: Josette and Youki

            Artaud’s own hair, neatly slicked back earlier, had slid loose because of the heat and now hung around his face. It looked strange, for his hair still had a few centimeters to grow until it attained the length it had been a year ago; it fell only to his cheekbones, a chestnut bowl ofContinue reading “From Book 2: Josette and Youki”