Communal Nude: Collected Essays

Communal Nude: Collected Essays

by Robert Gluck


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The collected essays of the cofounder of the New Narrative movement, on theory, identity, poetry, and muses from Kathy Acker to Georges Bataille.

I read and wrote to invoke what seemed impossible—relation itself—in order to take part in a world that ceaselessly makes itself up, to “wake up” to the world, to recognize the world, to be convinced that the world exists, to take revenge on the world for not existing.
—from Communal Nude

Since cofounding San Francisco's influential New Narrative circle in 1979, Robert Glück has been one of America's finest prose stylists of innovative fiction, bending narrative into the service of autobiography, politics, and gay writing. This collection brings together for the first time Glück's nonfiction, a revelatory body of work that anchors his writing practice. Glück's essays explore the ways that storytelling and selfhood are mutually embedded cultural forms, cohering a fractured social reality where generating narrative means generating identity means generating community. “I'd laugh at (make art from) any version of self,” Glück writes, “I write about these forms—that are myself—to dispense with them, to demonstrate how they disintegrate before the world, the body.” For any body—or text—to know itself, it must first see how it sees the world, and understand itself as writing.

Glück's essays affirm this radical narratorial precept in rich spirals of reading, self-reflection, anecdote, escapade, and “metatext.” These texts span the author's career and his creative affinities—from lost manifestos theorizing the poetics of New Narrative; to encomia for literary and philosophic muses (Kathy Acker, the HOW(ever) poets, Frank O'Hara, Georges Bataille, and others); to narrative journalism, book reviews, criticism, and public talks. Many of the texts are culled from obscure little magazines and ephemeral online sources; others have never been published. As lucid as story, as lush as theory, and as irresistible as gossip, Glück's essays are the quintessence of New Narrative theory in practice.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781584351757
Publisher: MIT Press
Publication date: 05/13/2016
Series: Semiotext(e) / Active AgentsSeries Series
Pages: 384
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Poet, fiction writer, editor, and New Narrative theorist Robert Glück has served as director of San Francisco State's Poetry Center, codirector of the Small Press Traffic Literary Center, and editor for Lapis Press and the literary journal Narrativity. He lives in San Francisco and is a Professor of Creative Writing at San Francisco State University.

Table of Contents

1 A Real Fictional Depth

Long Note on New Narrative 13

Baucis and Philemon 26

My Community 30

Fame 37

Truth's Mirror Is No Mirror 44

Who Speaks for Us; Being an Expert 53

Allegory 60

The Charm of Difficulty 69

On Critical Writing 73

My Margery, Margery's Bob 76

Preface to Elements of a Coffee Service 81

Caricature 83

My 2 Cents 95

His Heart is a Lute Held Up: Poe and Bataille 98

Writing Sex Body 106

Bataille and New Narrative 112

The Greatness of Kathy Acker 120

2 Between Life and Death

The Mouse's Tale 139

Yoko 144

In God We Trust / America's Most Wanted 145

Ed's Tomb 149

Bottoms Up! 154

From Paths of Pain to Jewels of Glory 161

Smoke 165

Cell 167

Tom Thompson 171

Many Infinities 173

Between Life and Death 177

3 Narrative Bent

Bob's Fundamentalist Movement 197

Four on Emptiness 199

Architecture as Fate 201

Divorce 206

A Little Prison Journal 208

Robert Glück's Middle Ages 218

Horror Garden 222

Dog Soup 225

O. J. 228

Dear Kevin Costner, 231

World 233

HIV 1986 235

The Best Lube 241

Queer Voice 244

To the Socialist Review 246

4 People

Robert Duncan: Tribute 253

Thorn Gunn Memorial in The Morrison Reading Room 260

Barrett Watten: The Negotiated Self 263

Dennis Cooper: Running on Emptiness 270

Pamela Lu: Pamela: A Novel 274

Ted Berrigan: For the Poetry Project 276

Chris Kraus: Aliens & Anorexia 278

Robin Blaser: Small Press Traffic Lifetime Achievement Award 280

Dodie Bellamy and Sam D'Allesandro: Preface to Real 283

Edmund White: A Boy's Own Story 286

Afterword for Bruce Boone's My Walk with Bob 293

Donald Allen: Tribute 295

Steve Abbott: Lives of the Poets 299

Chris Tysh: Preface for Our Lady 301

Isherwood and Bachardy 303

Juan Goytisolo: The Garden of Secrets 305

Edith Jenkins: Tribute 307

Barbara Guest: Tribute 311

John Wieners: Tribute 312

Philip Whalen: Tribute 313

Gail Scott: My Paris 315

Matthew Stabler: The Dissolution of Nicholas Dee 318

Notes on Aaron Shurin's The Graces 321

Edna St. Vincent Millay and I 325

George Stambolian: Tribute 327

Lynne Tillman: Haunted Houses 330

5 Talks

The Modern Poet in his Day 337

Censorship 343

Queer 348

Writing and Nuclear Holocaust 356

Writers are Liars 363

On the War 367

Uncertain Reading 369

A Counter Language 374

Narration 379

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