The author James Sallis said Marvin Cohen's ﬁrst book "The Self-Devoted Friend (1967) is a collection of short pieces [which] are variously narrative, dialogue, essay, epigram-some are surreal, some are pastiche and parody, some are reminiscent of Baudelaire's Petits Poèmes en Prose. Ellipsis is the predominant quality: the reader is asked to accept this material, this disparate substance strung together with associate devices . . . Parts are superbly comic [though it does not] afford the reader easy entrance . . . It deserves reading; there is, at least, nothing quite like it. Cohen is trying to explore the possibilities and expand the limits of the fictional form. For this, and for the large measure of success he achieves, attention is due him." [New Worlds, #181, April 1968]
Over fifty years later, there is still nothing quite like it, except, of course, Marvin's subsequent writings.
The first part of this book comes from Marvin Cohen's big shoe-box of unpublished typescripts, mainly dating from the 1970s and 1980s. The rest comprises dialogues, monologues, sketches and verse selected from his recent emails to a number of friends.