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Thirty-seven writers. One rule. Each story must be told in the first person. Clint Catalyst (Cottonmouth Kisses) and Michelle Tea (The Chelsea Whistle) bring together what can only be described as a dream cast of literature's new avant-garde, sandwiched with a few writers appearing in print for the first time. Catalyst calls the end product "a wonderful sampling of oddities, like a dangerous box of chocolates or an unmarked prescription bottle." Oddities? Oh, yeah. These stories offer scary, funny, chaotic, ...
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Thirty-seven writers. One rule. Each story must be told in the first person. Clint Catalyst (Cottonmouth Kisses) and Michelle Tea (The Chelsea Whistle) bring together what can only be described as a dream cast of literature's new avant-garde, sandwiched with a few writers appearing in print for the first time. Catalyst calls the end product "a wonderful sampling of oddities, like a dangerous box of chocolates or an unmarked prescription bottle." Oddities? Oh, yeah. These stories offer scary, funny, chaotic, moving, poignant, intimate glimpses into lives on the fringe, and they will get you up close and personal with speed freaks, scat freaks, gender benders, shoplifters, sober virgins, cybersexualists, Tourette's syndrome fetishists, and even a naked Butoh dancer. What can we say? We're not sure if we're proud or if we should apologize!
JT LeRoy (The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things, Sarah)
Dennis Cooper (My Loose Thread, Period, Guide, Try, Frisk, Closer )
Eileen Myles (Cool For You, Chelsea Girls, The New Fuck You)
Kevin Killian (I Cry Like a Baby, Little Men, Shy )
Pleasant Gehman (Escape From Houdini Mountain, Princess of Hollywood, The
Underground Guide to Los Angeles, Senorita Sin )
Alvin Orloff (I Married an Earthling )
Shawna Kenney (I Was a Teenage Dominatrix )
Thea Hillman (Depending on the Light )
Jayson Elliott (Clamor magazine)
Charles Anders (The Lazy Crossdresser )
Inga Muscio (Cunt: A Declaration of Independence )
Clint Catalyst is the Southern-fried, sissified, Goth—damaged,punk-spirited, hyper-hyphenated, degenerate author of Cottonmouth Kisses.
Michelle Tea is the author of the memoir The Chelsea Whistle, the Lambda Award-Winning dyke drama Valencia, and The Passionate Mistakes and Intricate Corruption of One Girl in America.
I like fear. I like feeling where my skin ends when something strikes it, scratches it, tries to get underneath it. I like tension. I like the tension between what I want and what I need.
I fear I will touch too many people. My hand likes to go where it doesn't belong. I like the tension between being welcome and scaring people. It's such a thin line.
I like cruelty. Doesn't everybody? A man who has toyed with me gives a boring lecture, and I'm happy. I feel good. A woman who applauds my setbacks becomes fat as a hippo, and it's as if I've won the lottery.
I like shoplifting. Chocolate is good, but I don't steal chocolate cake. The pieces are too big. It has to be something I can palm. I like the tension of eating.
I like the way semen smells. I like being seized by a taste. I like being in a position to be corrected.
When people say they are going away, I say, "I will miss you," but I don't miss them. I miss people I want to fuck. Maybe it's only the fucking I miss, or not even the fucking but the idea of fucking. I like the tension of loving people one minute and forgetting them the next. I like fucking people I don't like. I like being wrong about the people I want to fuck. The mistake is like healthy sleep.
I like mother's milk. I like not knowing whether I'm sucking cock or tit. I like having my mouth and cunt and ass penetrated at the same time.
I like being unattached. I like being tied up. I like making the wrong impression. I like penetrating a man's mouth.
I met a woman at a party. I thought her head would explode like something from a Cronenberg movie. Every word made her think about being misunderstood. She acted like her meaning was too precious to expose. I said, "It's annoying to be controlled, but it's funny. It's funny if you're not shocked."
Before my father took off his belt, he would say, "You're due for a licking." I would see a tongue on my skin. I like not knowing when I'll be struck.
When I'm with Oscar, I think I'm welcome when I'm scaring him. It makes me operate from inside a box. I like being loved for the wrong reasons. It makes me unsure whether I should protect myself.
I like a smell that is almost sickening. I like a feeling that is almost painful. I like having the same dream: A man is on all fours, over me like a dog finding a plaything in the woods. He sniffs at me gently and then licks, has friendly sex that makes me forget whether I'm in love or not, happy or not, gnawed at by doubts, losing money, giving away too much, failing at work, failing in friendship, symptomatic of diseases.
Fan is beautiful. She has clouds of hair. It's red, impossibly gleaming. Waves of it cascade over her forehead, dance around her cheekbones, fly down her shoulders. Her body is lean and statuesque. Her voice has a laugh. She holds her chin up. She likes being every man's desire, but it is not the most important thing. Being every man's desire shows her every man's desire, and she does not like what she sees. I like watching men fall in love with her. She acts as if she doesn't care. I think they like the whipped cream she places between herself and them. They think they can keep their footing in it. I imagine her cradled and sung to by men who can talk to cats.
A dominatrix told me she liked living out her fantasies. She said that not all women did. Some preferred to play with themselves, as if thinking about sex were not also a physical activity, as if the mind were not part of the body. She had made a living from her sexual activities. She was aroused by her work. It was her subject too. She had nothing else instructive to say. She thought she had devoted too much of her life to sex. She had missed out on other experiences. When she named them, they were dull, like going shopping for linens at Macy's.
I like being taken from behind. I like the tension of being trusted. I like prominent veins. I like knowing everyone can tell.
I like women with space between their teeth. Anything can happen. Everything they wear looks soft, smells good. They present their bodies as a gift. They can't be shocked. They bet on the future. They carry foreign money. They attract children. Their embrace is like a silk cord. They make an impression without leaving marks.
I like scars. I like cells that don't forget. I like fighting sleep. I like the intelligence of gorillas. I like being bent over a chair. I like healing on my own.
I was riding my bike up Sixth Avenue on a balmy night-late, so there were no cars-and I was sailing in that way that makes me forget what I'm made of. I was wearing a thin jacket I wanted to shed, but I didn't want to stop. The left sleeve slipped off, but the right cuff caught on my wrist, and the next thing I knew I was sprawled on the pavement, my left hand cut, my left knee showing a trickle of blood, my left hip bruised. Most of the damage was to my left hand. I groaned whenever I squeezed the brake. I groaned so loud, I laughed. The hand swelled. I applied ice. I thought I'd broken a bone. I couldn't decide whether to keep the hand still or flex it. I thought I should have X-rays, but I didn't go. Weeks passed, and it didn't heal, but in time the swelling went down, the bruises faded, the stiffness eased, the strength returned. The hand didn't forget the injury. A place I press below the knuckle sings.
Sammy's body is a machine. It is hard and has no fat. He likes women who behave like machines. He doesn't care if they mean it, as long as they do it. They park in front of him. They look like cars with shiny exteriors, women he can drive. He leans in close and leaves a space. Women swarm to the space. He likes women with leather seats and chrome handlebars-women who leave tread marks. He likes a machine that purrs when he turns it on and sleeps when he parks it. In a memory, he is 12 or so, in the woods, the fur on his body still downy, the pleasure of flowers already thorny. His father is wearing a red jacket, and vapor smokes from his nose and mouth. He looks like a ghost on an errand. Sammy wonders what his father is chasing or what is chasing his father, but every time he looks for his old man, he finds a map and a scribbled note.
Sammy's body is a getaway car. Pleasure slows him down. He looks at women through glass. They feel his breath against the window. He can cry if he doesn't smell them. He thinks they are filled with waiting. He doesn't like to swallow. He thinks there will always be something more tempting to taste. He sets tests he can't win. He remembers the strength in his dying father's hands. He remembers crying at the funeral and thinking about gunning cars on the flat roads of Kansas, blacktop sleek and hard as sinew ripping down the backbone of the land. When a woman touches new parts of him, he feels left out of the conversation.
I am looking at a man I barely know. His face is etched with old sorrow or his genes are. His wife is younger, or her genes are. The way he smiles looks like a wince because it tugs against the downward lines. She's wearing a white linen shirt that is crisp despite the fabric's tendency to crease. She casts sidelong glances at him. He worries about her if she's not nearby. Or maybe he needs to have her close. She appears to need the silk cord less than he does (or else she's better at concealing her needs).
I am looking at a man obsessed with himself in such a humorous way it seems he is talking about someone else. Stray need makes him sexy. He acts as if his life depends on his attractiveness, and he seems even to know that this need fuels his sexiness-a type that's touching in a girlish way. But he pretends he's shy. He pretends his hands are tied. He pretends he has to be seized or drunk. It's disastrous to play his way. He doesn't want to be right about his allure. He doesn't like the tension of that responsibility.
I like feeling where my desire ends when something is beyond it. It makes me unsure whether I should protect myself.
I met a man I both scared and excited (though many things had the same effect on him). Fear made him bold. Excitement made him shrink. He flattered and flirted. He didn't imagine my loneliness, though he knew I was alone. I didn't imagine his anxiety, though he detailed it for me. I didn't pursue him, but I met him when he asked. His interest made me hopeful in a way I couldn't control. Each time he appeared he reminded me he had nothing to give. I imagined he thought his flame was too tepid to hurt. He sent a gift, signed the note with love, and then he disappeared. When he resurfaced, my anger was equivalent to the self-reproach he'd tripped. I felt he'd left because I was unworthy, though I knew it wasn't true.
I like pornography intended for someone else. I like a mind I can penetrate, a mind that splits open for me like the halves of a papaya. A man once said he wanted to eat papaya from my cunt. He said he wanted to shave my pubic hair. He wanted me to wear a corset. He wanted to have sex that sounded uncomfortable but wasn't. His desire was touching in a girlish way. He liked the scars I had acquired through accidents. He liked giving me tests.
I like the footwork of boxing. I like encouragement that's confining like a corset. I like the discovery of irony by children.
A woman once told me she could think herself off. Her capacities seemed those of a mutant or a mythological beast. She could do it on the subway. She could probably do it anywhere, but I'm choosing the subway because of the vibrations. She would cross her legs and squeeze her pelvic muscles and somehow work up a cricket-like friction against her clit, or maybe friction wasn't necessary, the mind being sufficient. She would rock, or maybe not. She wasn't specific, or I don't remember. I liked the swagger in her smile.
I like women with passports that are heavily stamped. I like skin that's tattooed. I like the consequences of penetration. I like sex that's postponed. I like being on the receiving end. I like computers that talk. I like being slapped across the face. I like mixed origins.
My friend Andy fears that things can't change, but can only get worse at a faster rate. He fell in love with heroin, like a princess being awakened by a kiss. He was committed to oblivion. He bore the consequences of penetration. He liked sex that would put him to sleep. He thought of his dick as a needle. Women swarmed to his dead eyes. He liked women with nothing to lose. His curiosity was sweet. He was afraid of his ideas. He loved swallowing cunt. He didn't kill his intelligence. He treated his body cruelly. Women swarmed to his cruelty. He nursed his cruelty the way he did his drugs. Women with the power to think themselves off found him a good fuck. He didn't feign shyness. He didn't need to be seized. He liked killing himself. He liked life. He could always express his beliefs. He found contact excruciating. His face grew skull-like. He kept the smell of cunt on his hands.
I like reversing my position. I like when honesty hurts. I like the thin line between masochism and courage. I told Sammy I believed in change, though when I gave examples it sounded like I was trying to cheer myself up. I find comfort in his size. He's too big to slam into a wall. I like separating because it hurts. I like being slowed down. I fear I will run out of patience and renewable cells. I like disliking Sammy. I like not having what I want, because it's what I need.
Excerpt From The IHOP Paper
I'm 20 and I've never slept with anyone. I've been in AA for almost three years too. That's how I ended up in San Francisco. I'm trying to seduce Irene, my philosophy teacher from community college. Whenever I try to imagine having sex with a woman, I see myself drinking goblets of wine in dimly lit rooms, touching her clavicles as if they were the original pages of the Bible, so old and antique, thin and transparent. I just had a thought that the Bible was written on stone, not thin paper. Papyrus, stone-you know what I mean about the necessity of delicate touch, as if her clavicles were the thin, almost transparent pages of a very old Bible and I was the archaeologist who'd fallen into this glorious excavation.
You have to have some balls to title your book the Bible. That's not what I'm titling my book. I want my book to be accessible. I want to write a book that's really honest-The IHOP Papers-because it's about working at IHOP. I work at IHOP, the International House of Pancakes. You know, the chain of restaurants with the pointy blue-painted roofs. I wear what's most likely one of the most ugly dresses in existence. It is this blue shit thing with poofy sleeves and shoulders, and those god-awful white nurse shoes. I think I already told you what the
Excerpted from pills, thrills, chills, and heartache Copyright © 2004 by Clint Catalyst and Michelle Tea. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
|Excerpt From The IHOP Papers||7|
|Love Boat and Lingerie||23|
|Twelve (Other) Easy Steps to God||33|
|Your Mouth Is Open||39|
|On My Planet||51|
|Dancing for the Beats||91|
|One Night in 1979 I Did Too Much Coke and Couldn't Sleep and Had What I Thought Was a Million-Dollar Idea to Write the Definitive Tell-all Book About Glam Rock Based on My Own Personal Experience But This Is as Far as I Got||95|
|Pigbones in a Bathtub||113|
|The Black Hand||125|
|Anarchy in Calaveras County||133|
|Swimming With the Dolphins||145|
|I Am So Smart||159|
|The Theory of Maternal Impression||185|
|Man and Boy||193|
|Excerpt From Tiny Ladies||207|
|Excerpt From The Geographical Cure||221|
|Anywhere in Particular||229|
|Every Time I See Me Falling||235|
|Lady, Don't Be Panic||267|
|The Hell House Affair||279|
|Paris: A Lie||285|
|Friend or Faux: An Excerpt From Turnskin||297|
|The Shitty Schoolgirl||313|
|Dear Kath After||337|
|Days With Inga and Bridget: An Excerpt From La Journal de Inga la Gringa||345|
|When to Be a Girl||353|
Posted March 1, 2009
I Also Recommend:
As a long-time fan of "transgressive" literature--especially poetry (Michelle Tea's _The Beautiful_), stories (Clint Catalyst's _Cottonmouth Kisses_), and novels (Ali Liebegott's _The IHOP Papers_, Eileen Myles' _Cool For You_) written in the first-person narrative-- I'm frustrated that it took me so long to find this compendium of just about the coolest writers of the 21st century.
The fact that exclusive stories by cult stalwarts Dennis Cooper, Chris Kraus, Eileen Myles, Charlie Anders, Dodie Bellamy--as well as editors Tea and Catalyst themselves--seems to be a well-kept secret. That, along with the fact that one of the most harrowing accounts in the anthology (the story "Cheers" by a writer credited as merely "Pauley P") was written by none other than actress Pauley Perrette of "The Ring," "Almost Famous," and the CBS show "NCIS."
Just like the character "Abby" played by Perrette on the hit series, there seems to be a dark undercurrent in the actress' background, as well. The complexity presented through the argument of "the person versus the first-person narrative" is rife within this sublime collection. Categorized as non-fiction, yet book-ended by an exclusive submission by the farcical J.T. Leroy "himself," contradictions abound...
Though it's the question marks that mark this book as the treasure it is: a testament of a movement, a moment, a somewhat secret society comprised of extravagant iconoclasts. As is often the case, I predict the rule-breakers and risk-takers herein will be revered in future days by many of the same critics who once reviled them. Case in point: the hit-or-miss publisher [Alyson] whose egregious disclaimer that "[they weren't] sure if [they] were proud or if [they] should apologize" about this brilliant collection speaks volumes in terms of milquetoast ambivalence. After all, these are the same pundits who praised J.T. Leroy's presence in the book and placed more of an emphasis on "his" presence than that of the co-editors.
It's no surprise this book is Alyson's bastard child not even their 'list of published works' will claim: even their cover choice is reticent.
If such a thing as a gutsy, audacious publishing house still exists, hear me out now:
This. This is a work that demands to be kept alive, to be kept in print...
Posted July 20, 2004
having gone through only some of the book, you'll find after the first 3 stories that this isn't your 'chicken soup' compilation of short stories. although it's got a wonderful variety of writers/stories, each story is as disturbing as the next. it's wickedly funny. everything in the title is discussed. i found sex to be the most uneasy topic, spoken with a little bit too much detail, but if you can stomach it, it's a wonderfully funny/interesting/exciting book with great diversity.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.