"fresh and exciting"--Publishers Weekly
Dalkey Archive Press
As innovative and abrasive as the very best of William Burroughs, Ann Quin's Tripticks offers a scattered account of the narrator's flight across a surreal American landscape, pursued by his "No. 1 X-wife" and her new lover. This masterpiece of pre-punk aesthetics critiques the hypocrisy and consumerism of modern culture while spoofing the "typical" maladjusted
As innovative and abrasive as the very best of William Burroughs, Ann Quin's Tripticks offers a scattered account of the narrator's flight across a surreal American landscape, pursued by his "No. 1 X-wife" and her new lover. This masterpiece of pre-punk aesthetics critiques the hypocrisy and consumerism of modern culture while spoofing the "typical" maladjusted family, which in this case includes a father who made his money in ballpoint pens and a mother whose life revolves around her overpampered, all-demanding poodle. Stylistically, this is Quin's most daring work, prefiguring the formal inventiveness of Kathy Acker.
"fresh and exciting"--Publishers Weekly
Dalkey Archive Press
All outdoor sports are possible. Deep sea sleeping, and angling for small game are favourite pastimes. The man who doesn't reckon his pleasures on a silver platter is a fish that walks by night. Batman's the name, reform's the game. Farm out the elite, the Ruff-puffs, stinking thinking, temper tantrums, strong winds, captivating experiences, Burn Down Peyton Place, and inhale deeply stretched time with red eyes.
Eyes that fall away to 282 feet below sea level. I am hunted by bear, mountain lion, elk and deer. Duck, pheasant, rabbit, dove and quail. He at first feels a little like George Custer at Little Big Horn. The enemy is all around and awesome. The road ahead is going to be difficult there will be some nervous Nellies and some will become frustrated and bothered and break ranks under the strain, and there will be blood, irony dwarfs and dragons, skyrockets fired to celebrate orgasm's efficiency. Suicide in a scented Sodom. Soul on acid. Hero angelic, domestic and cosmic on a journey with God on my side and the BrownieTroop.
Meanwhile I eat a toasted cheese hamburger, and dwell on five days of unconfined feasts of roasted pig. A miracle for a man who has nothing to lose. True your family adventures may not match those of ancient Greece, but you're equipped to make history and why shouldn't you be, we've worked hard to make it that way, we took no short cuts, spared no expense, watched no clock. If you come filled with dreams it may happen that your dream changes about every 15 minutes. The most is yet to come. 3,000 miles of strawberry ice cream. Lips are frenchfries teasing cole slaw fingers. My belly a Golden Poppy and the Motto is I Have Yet To Find It. Or as posted to my 3 X-wives. Ranked according to value vehicles food allied products fabricated metal machinery stone clay glass lumber and apparel.
White gold her hair one of my faces married (I displayed at that time a droopy Stephen Crane moustache and shiny eyes fixed on some wild interior vision). A bevy of stars, many now fallen. Reproductions a gristmill wine press and the reservoir with its undershot waterwheel, a restored chapel and adjoining wing of seven rooms she has taken over with the fourth husband of my No. 2 wife. Under the rough hewn redwood timbers they were lashed together with rawhide. Open during daylight hours an unusual arrangement of garden pools. Hours subject to change in summer. No dogs, with the exception of seeing-eye dogs, are allowed. Cats are permitted to stay overnight provided they are on a leash. A naturalist is on duty. As members of the 89-person party died, those remaining resorted to cannibalism. Only 47 were rescued. Picnicking. Campsites near the original area. Where I waited. Cement sand gravel and a gun. Full of booze and passion for justice he sees himself as a law and ardour candidate. His politics are symbolized by the itchy trigger finger, and his judicial philosophy is summed up in a tidy homily, `You can't serve papers on a rat'. For months he terrorized the young women, and he was quickly dubbed the `Phantom Rapist'. He left typewritten notes at the scenes of his crimes. A strategy he called `working the system'.
He is layin' low, like Br'er Rabbit in his briar patch but we know he s in there. Hovering, pale and jittery, like an image that persists for a second after the set has been turned off.
I knew they scrutinized me through a two-way mirror. A matter of impatience between us. Between the sunken gardens, colonnade and the workshop. They set up their own quarantine regulations. Frozen turkeys and yoghourt delivered from the nearest Piggly Wiggly. She played the mechanical organ, he an old horse fiddle, and other games with other interesting relics. Most of their amusements, I soon realized, could be accommodated without my presence. The inertia of distant omniscient perspective. That other side of the goddamn appletree. Intimations of immortality and a need for sincerity and violence become reflections of the reality only. I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death. The attacker may be a sadist who bites slowly and intentionally, leaving well-defined teeth marks. Mainly found on the breast, neck, cheek, top of arm etc. Their degree of viciousness can vary tremendously, from the nipples being completely bitten off to one bite only, a `love nip'.
I fired three times at their flagstone barbecue pit. And emerged from an underground channel through different rock strata. The name is not Gnome. The sensible thing is to kill them off, petrol bombs you know. Napalm your Castle awaits you.
It was when hitting Highway 101 I noticed they were following. I turned off into a winding road. Without campsites rest areas picnicking trailer hookups Naturalist programme.
Their faces, glass faces behind me, twisted into grotesque shapes by the Pacific winds. Surrounded by Himalayan cedars, illuminated with 8,000 coloured Lights. I proceeded with lights extinguished for several miles, and began a journey in an atomic submarine, scientifically authentic, to view mermaids, sea serpents, and the face of my first wife's father. Pets may be left in a kennel at the main gate, he said. This one happens to be dead, I replied. In that case we'll arrange a funeral at once. But I didn't want a burial performed just then. However I told him that eventually a statue in her honour would be appropriate for erection in the town park, where visitors may choose to arrive by helicopters. He seemed genuinely pleased at this idea and showed me around the grounds of his No. 1 home. In addition to the eight-room stone and frame house (a market value of $82,000 when it was appraised six years ago he confidentially told me) there were a grassy helicopter pad, a log-cabin guest house, two boathouses, a kidney-shaped swimming pool, a sauna, a trampoline and a profusion of trees and marigolds. `All this was pasture, plain pasture when we bought it, I planted those pines as little sprouts and look at them now, you have to keep them fertilized and use lots of mulch.' A recent hailstorm had played havoc with the trees and the roof of the house. He noted aloud `I've got to fix that'. He bent over and picked up several broken willow branches and handed them to his chauffeur (who I felt sure secretly belonged to the Panthers). While an electric player piano blared Oklahoma he led me to the garage where there were three autos: a 1926 model T Ford 1930 Model A A new red convertible. `A copy,' he said proudly, `of the '29 Ford Phieton.' He tried to start the Model T, but the motor coughed, spat and died. `Someone's been tinkering at the choke.' He hopped out, lifted the hood and tinkered for a minute, explaining that he used to run a bike repair shop and liked doing his own mechanical work. Then his ire was directed at his anti-smog gadget. `The car idles so fast that it automatically leaps to 30 miles an hour when I take my foot off the brake, I've got to be careful I don't kill somebody,' he said with a rueful smile `just coming out of my drive.'
He led me further into the grounds. Crocodiles, hippopotami, and snakes slipped through murky water. Along the shore, amid live, rare tropical trees, shrubs, and flowers, appeared elephants and other jungle animals. `Visitors you know will find it hard to believe that none of the animals are alive. `I felt convinced one or two were, possibly his wife's pets. She took her poodle Bu-Bu with her everywhere. `I wish I had been an Edwardlan, `she moaned at dinner on my first visit. `When we give a dinner party as you can see the people who serve wear green jackets and white gloves, but look at the curtains they're in shreds.' `That naughty Bu-Bu of yours,' her husband shouted.
After dinner he showed me the champagne plant, wine cellars and bottling rooms. This was just a hobby, he explained. He was in the ballpen industry, with eighteen plants selling a billion ballpoints a year in 96 countries, `enough to pen a letter stretching from here to Saturn'. I knew the familiar commercials: a ballpoint being buried by a bulldozer, rattled on a flamenco dancer's boot and shot from a rifle, only to write perfectly again. He claimed that it would soon make the pencil obsolete.
I saw myself in the near future living like a modern pasha. Indulging an insatiable yen for the luxuries a Falcon jet Convair turbo-prop Jet Commander Rolls-Royce Custom Lincoln Caddy Sting Ray a houseboat and a Riva speedboat, and perhaps a thoroughbred racing stable, and two Eliza Doolittles for maids.
A recent afternoon in his life. Man Friday helps him into his Pierre Cardin jacket. The Rolls is waiting. Three lissom girls are already in the back seat. He wanders across the lawn to pet his two tame ocelots. `Tell my wife that I'll be back tomorrow.' The Rolls is crunching along the gravel driveway when someone runs from the house and shouts, `Urgent call from New York.' Twenty minutes later he is finally airborne in his twin engine falcon jet.
I tentatively asked him about his earnings. `Now you're prying into my personal business,' was his angry retort. `Just say it's between 50 cents and 5 million dollars.' Then he went on about a fund he was creating to provide huge public cocktail parties with free food and drink for anyone who wants to attend. `This would be a real nice way to be remembered,' he said. There had to be a hitch the parties would not start till after his death, and he wants to enjoy them too. So, for every party, he has arranged with a local funeral home to have his remains wheeled out in a big silver casket. `They will stay at the party until the last guest has gone.' As he told me all this he had the strangest gleam in his eyes, it was like he couldn't wait to die and get on with the fun.
His study was built in the shape of a wine barrel. He showed me photographs of his daughter in graduation drag. Of her as a plump baby, naked on a crocodile skin. And photos of his home town pharmacy ice cream parlour bank drugstore dentist's office general store an old oil rig early locomotive box-car handcar and caboose hotel saloon and other enterprises.
I became the caricature of the surly inarticulate `man, like I mean', as I caught sight of his daughter, my first wife to be, chewing gum in the memorial garden of camelias, roses and flowering shrubs. A maze symbolizing the various paths offered in life. At its centre a small stone summerhouse with a highly finished interior signifying the hastiness of judgment on the basis of outward appearances.
`That's the orchard over there a fine sight to see you know,' he said, `the Cherry Picking Festival is held in June and the public is invited to pick their own fruit, and over there well we have the Marine Corps Supply Depot there we go you know my grandmother or was it my great grandfather was Celtic see that fireplace well its modelled after a Scottish war lord's and this well it's a miniature Railway an authentic replica you know of an oldtime coal-burning engine and that well that's a photo of the world's largest jet-missile rocket test centre and has a 22-mile runway not open to visitors of course.'
I made the appropriate gestures, remarks, while thinking of his daughter's petrified face imprinted on fossilized leaves. Vital secrets of her own wondering aloud while shopping by Rolls. I was curious to know if she was a member, like her mother, of the D.R. (Daughters of the Revolution). I doubted it. Her speciality would be wooden heads, tightly leather-wrapped. At the moment, her father reported, she was preoccupied with lizards, which she says `look like man in certain stages'.
Later at a health resort under hot-water geysers we made it for the first time in the mineral springs and mineralized mud baths. My mouth searching for hers by means of siphon pipes. And later that same day I got a strange blow-job in a parking lot, it was 35 degrees outside, by a weird woman, two days later I was still weak at the knees and couldn't think about it. Now I could try and ease my way out of this by saying I didn't ask questions, just stated my personality smart, well-educated Lack of respect for authority ambitious lack of spiritual and moral deep concern for social fibre problems lack of responsibility good values, character lack of manners communicate lack of dialogue with elders independent thinker values ill-defined poised personality lack of good study habits vocal, will speak up lack of love for fellow men mature, prepared for lack of self-respect life too impetuous versatile, able too introspective intellectually curious too introspective well-groomed nothing missing care about community
read for pleasure consider myself informed sense of humour is important enjoy discussing ideas my best work is done when I'm not working I am dominant relationship with my family is fucked up I am sophisticated considered attractive interested in marriage liberal regarding sex more of a dove than a hawk my date should be psychologically weaker I am optimistic Pot and pop-pills are morally right I drink regularly
On the other hand I am interested in some of the factors which may, or may not, effect my psychological feelings. For this reason I have hand exercise springs REMEMBER Hold the hand spring in a closed position throughout the `thinking' period. Place your check mark on the line, not in between lines
THIS NOT THIS X X
_________ _________ ___________ ___________
Do Not Omit any Scales for Any Concept Yesterday Good ________ ________ ________ Bad large large unpleasant pleasant light heavy cold hot active passive rough smooth
My Mood Now
small large passive active hot cold bad good heavy light pleasant unpleasant
Organized Dreamer Athletic Sexy Confident Aggressive Subtle Natural Practical Well-dressed Healthy Introverted Passionate Thrifty Quiet Nervous Funny Warm Paternal Extroverted Serious Impulsive Talkative Trusting Active Intelligent Kind Content Maternal Cheerful Creative Self-controlled Cautious Do-it-yourself Altruistic Emotional Reflective Jealous Obsessive Wholesome
Pets Jazz Psychology Parties Walking Photography Lectures Scientific E.S.P. Medicine journals Stock Market Stereo Movies Antiques equipment Yoga Astrology Acting Humanities Foreign travel Modern lit. Dancing Sugar buns Discotheques Portable lawns Ethics Pop Art and unusual work-it-yourself devices
Excerpted from TRIPTICKS by Ann Quin. Copyright © 1972 by Ann Quin. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Ann Quin, one of the best kept secrets of British experimental writing, has garnered comparisons to such diverse writers as Samuel Beckett and Nathalie Sarraute. Before her death in 1973, she published four novels, including "Berg" and "Passages". In 1964 she became the first female recipient of the D. H. Lawrence Fellowship which allowed her to travel to the U.S., a trip that provided the basis for "Tripticks".
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