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The Complete Butcher's Tales


In the fantastic tradition of Borges, Bruno Schulz, Angela Carter, and H. P. Lovecraft, here are nearly sixty unforgettable stories that ignore the confines of space and time to offer, among other times and places: a cabinet of curiosities in contemporary Cairo, an alvhemical ceiling in 18th-century Naples, the hallucinatory inner worlds of psychotics, anthropomorphic planets, and an Old West ruled by necromancy.This expanded, revised edition collects the complete short stories ...

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In the fantastic tradition of Borges, Bruno Schulz, Angela Carter, and H. P. Lovecraft, here are nearly sixty unforgettable stories that ignore the confines of space and time to offer, among other times and places: a cabinet of curiosities in contemporary Cairo, an alvhemical ceiling in 18th-century Naples, the hallucinatory inner worlds of psychotics, anthropomorphic planets, and an Old West ruled by necromancy.This expanded, revised edition collects the complete short stories of one of the most immaginative writers of our time.

Dalkey Archive Press

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"... garishly vivid, splendid little nightmares." — Library Journal

Dalkey Archive Press

Charlotte Innes
Linguistically explosive and socially relevant, these works are solid evidence that Rikki Ducornet is one of the most interesting American writers around. . . . The tales are deep pools of darkness, illumined by powerful glimmers of hope. . . . We need writers to look at these difficult issues in a sophisticated manner. Ducornet has done this. She is a mirror or our innermost selves. And she gives us back to ourselves--despairing, hopeful, active, contemplative, fractured but surviving, playful, even happy sometimes, and always whole.
Charlotte Innes, Nation 6-6-94
Chicago Tribune
"She writes like a stunned time-traveler, testifying in breathless fragments to exotic ages that have gone or never were--or howling like a medium, an enormous radio tuned into the secret dreams and irrational obsessions of ancestors and neighbors. . . . Her strongest stories invoke the hallucinatory confusion of our earliest memories in which the details are vivid but the context of the adult world is incomprehensible; little that comes later in life strikes us with the same deep resonance."
Robert Chatain, Chicago Tribune Books, 7/17/94
Los Angeles Times
"Rikki Ducornet is a mischievous imp of an author; she ought to be spanked for having such a good time. Her stories are like a crowded nursery in a wealthy British home in the end of the 19th century; she writes with an imagination that floats off out the windows like a helium balloon, like Peter Pan. . . . She forces the language to speak with the voice of the subconscious. And the stories hold together, they feel complete (if not in the ordinary beginning and end sense of the word) but the details (an 'unusually complexioned pebble'!) are sublime."
Los Angeles Times Book Review, 5/29/94
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Lewis Carroll's The Hunting of the Snark provides the epigraph; his Jabberwocky donates the title of one story, ``Brillig''; and something of his creepy whimsy--mixed with a pinch of Chekhov and a hint of Rod Serling, among others--informs all 54 of these short pieces, 30 of which appeared in a limited Canadian edition in 1980. Best known for her Tetralogy of Elements novels, a series that recently concluded with The Jade Cabinet , Ducornet here offers a brilliant, refreshingly varied collection: a shoe salesman in Florida, apparently modeled on her maternal grandfather, inspires ``Shoes and Shit''; a mysterious flying jade saucer that blots out the sun and presages other more vile desecrations is the subject of ``The Jade Planet''; in ``The Imaginary Infancy of Heinrich Schliemann,'' the young archeologist's father tries to determine his future through copromancy. Unhinged old women, fey children vaguely menaced and menacing pubescent girls also populate these stories, which are all told in prose of such beauty that one can't help silently mouthing the words. Fluid, studied, almost overripe, it is also intensely visual: ``A mature albino ape, its heart pierced by an arrow, falls from a tropical tree. As he falls he attempts to catch the bloody ropes spouting from his breast. In truth his wound is fathomless, a mortal fracture in the body of the world.'' (Apr.)
Library Journal
There's little straight narrative in these 50 brief, tantalizing fictions from the daring author of The Jade Cabinet LJ 2/1/93, and it doesn't all work. But the best pieces are garishly vivid, splendid little nightmares. In ``Max, Moleskin and Glass,'' a flamboyant, eccentric lesbian has herself enbalmed and encased in glass in the pose of writing a famous, unfinished sentence, thus becoming the darling of the surrealists. The title character in ``The Tale of the Tattooed Woman'' is so consumed by hate she bites the head off a pet canary, then lures her dog into a trap and delights in watching it bleed to death. Filled with self-loathing, she first marks herself with ink as a reminder ``never to kill again.'' In ``Haddock's Eyes,'' a sort of literary homage, ``Borges, Uqbar's most celebrated chronicler,'' directs the author to an archaeological dig in quest of ``early Gnostic curios.'' An old hag in ``Desire'' implores her daughter to ``be kind to this moldering fruit. . . . We are all born princesses only to shrivel in the sun.'' An acquired taste, to be sure, but worth the effort.-- Ron Antonucci, Hudson Lib. & Historical Soc . , Ohio
John Shreffler
Ducornet's newest "is an astonishing accomplishment, the work of an artist who can, in the course of a paragraph, convey the impact of a much longer story; given a few pages, she packs the wallop of a novel. "The Complete Butcher's Tales" consists of some 60 pieces set in times and settings as varied as eighteenth-century Naples and modern Cairo. Their themes are diverse, too, and also unsettling, often psychological, and usually surreal. In one, a man grows a tumor on his neck that, in the course of time, turns into a second head that provides a companionship he had previously missed. In the next, set in Algiers' Casbah, an American spinster and a defrocked French priest discuss the nature of dreams and desire and the unexplained disappearance of the serving boy's brother, of which the story's end hints an explanation. Ducornet owes obvious literary debts most notably to Borges, whom she acknowledges, but her writing is so compelling that in the end one hears only her own voice, senses only her own gaudily bizarre and often erotic imagination.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781564782298
  • Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/1999
  • Pages: 172
  • Product dimensions: 6.08 (w) x 8.96 (h) x 0.57 (d)

Table of Contents

The Volatilized Ceiling of Baron Munodi 3
Mademoiselle Clistore in Cairo 11
The Imaginary Infancy of Heinrich Schliemann 15
Haddock's Eyes 18
Friendship 22
Bazar 24
Clean 34
Outer Spaces 35
Electric Rose 41
Brillig 42
Missy 46
The Star Chamber 51
The Tale of the Tattooed Woman 52
Max, Moleskin, and Glass 54
Jungle 57
Thrift 59
Bedtime Story 60
The Monkey Lover 61
The Nipple 64
Fydor's Bears 69
Cream 71
Luggage 73
Harriet 77
Foxes 79
The Radiant Twinnie 84
The Double 87
Spanish Oranges 89
The Beast 92
Parasites 93
Sorrowing Rachilde 95
Hofritz 98
Sleep 100
The Jade Planet 103
What Happened in the New Country 105
The Smallest Muttonbird Island 106
Grace 111
The Genius 113
Theft 117
Lunch 118
Shoes and Shit 119
Ms. Carolina Phtipps 121
The Lunatic's Apprentice 123
I Will Never Forget You Ernie Frigmaster 129
Easter Melodies 132
F*a*i*r*y F*i*n*g*e*r 135
Janie 137
Sleeping Beauty 139
Abracadabra 141
The Folding Bed 144
Minus Twitty at Beetle Gulch 145
Aunt Rose and Uncle Friedle 149
La Chincha 151
Desire 153
Saida 155
Voyage to Ultima Azul, Chapter 79 160
Egyptian Gum 163
The New Zoo 167
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