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 2: Foujita and Youki

“Come on, Geoff,” Youki urged, tugging at my arm. I allowed her to lead me to the car. “Come see the studio.”             I climbed in the back seat of her yellow Ballot with Foujita and Bernice, and the chauffeur nodded to Youki while she sat in the front passenger seat arranging her hair. “Home,Continue reading “From Book 2: Foujita and Youki”

From Book 2: Napoléon

            The role of Roderick Usher went to another actor, but Jean-Paul Marat in Gance’s film Napoléon belonged to Antonin Artaud. We attended the premier held at the Paris Opera. Napoléon Vu par Abel Gance, originally intended as a six-film series, was now a four-hour epic film promised to be on par with D.W. Griffith’sContinue reading “From Book 2: Napoléon”

From Book 2: Escaping the Police

            Hands tore at me and I threw my fists out blindly, making contact with eyes and cheeks. The air cleared and I crawled onstage. Now Breton was nowhere to be seen. I hauled Desnos up by the arm. Holding his handkerchief against the flow of blood, Desnos stumbled in the direction I shoved himContinue reading “From Book 2: Escaping the Police”

From Book 2: Saint-Pol-Roux’s Banquet

            One evening, while Catherine sat with Suzanne in the dining room planning a supper for our father’s birthday, Franz on the sofa sheepishly unfolded a few old newspaper articles he’d saved. “This should interest you,” he whispered. “Surrealism’s biggest public scandal.” We sat quietly together to read them. The event was an honorary banquetContinue reading “From Book 2: Saint-Pol-Roux’s Banquet”

From Book 2: Morocco

            We stood there looking at each other with the door wide open. From the auditorium a roar of clapping and boos accompanied the appearance of a man onstage, a genteel-looking old peacock obviously accustomed to more civilized public gatherings and who now had the thankless job of introducing André Breton. His tremulous voice wasContinue reading “From Book 2: Morocco”

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”