Chris Kraus

Chris Kraus is the author of four novels, including I Love Dick and Summer of Hate; two books of art and cultural criticism; and most recently, After Kathy Acker: A Literary Biography. She received the College Art Association's Frank Jewett Mather Award in Art Criticism in 2008, and a Warhol Foundation Art Writing grant in 2011. She lives in Los Angeles.

  • How I Became One of the Invisible, New Edition

    How I Became One of the Invisible, New Edition

    David Rattray and Chris Kraus

    The only collection of Rattray's prose: essays that offer a kind of secret history and guidebook to a poetic and mystical tradition.

    In order to become one of the invisible, it is necessary to throw oneself into the arms of God... Some of us stayed for weeks, some for months, some forever.—from How I Became One of the Invisible

    Since its first publication in 1992, David Rattray's How I Became One of the Invisible has functioned as a kind of secret history and guidebook to a poetic and mystical tradition running through Western civilization from Pythagoras to In Nomine music to Hölderlin and Antonin Artaud. Rattray not only excavated this tradition, he embodied and lived it. He studied at Harvard and the Sorbonne but remained a poet, outside the academy. His stories “Van” and “The Angel” chronicle his travels in southern Mexico with his friend, the poet Van Buskirk, and his adventures after graduating from Dartmouth in the mid-1950s. Eclipsed by the more mediagenic Beat writers during his lifetime, Rattray has become a powerful influence on contemporary artists and writers.

    Living in Paris, Rattray became the first English translator of Antonin Artaud, and he understood Artaud's incisive scholarship and technological prophecies as few others would. As he writes of his translations in How I Became One of the Invisible, “You have to identify with the man or the woman. If you don't, then you shouldn't be translating it. Why would you translate something that you didn't think had an important message for other people? I translated Artaud because I wanted to turn my friends on and pass a message that had relevance to our lives. Not to get a grant, or be hired by an English department.”

    Compiled in the months before his untimely death at age 57, How I Became One of the Invisible is the only volume of Rattray's prose. This new edition, edited by Robert Dewhurst, includes five additional pieces, two of them previously unpublished.

    • Paperback $17.95 £13.99
  • Social Practices

    Social Practices

    Chris Kraus

    Essays on and around art and art practices by the author of I Love Dick.

    A border isn't a metaphor. Knowing each other for over a decade makes us witnesses to each other's lives. My escape is his prison. We meet in a bar and smoke Marlboros.—from Social Practices

    Mixing biography, autobiography, fiction, criticism, and conversations among friends, with Social Practices Chris Kraus continues the anthropological exploration of artistic lives and the art world begun in 2004 with Video Green: Los Angeles Art and the Triumph of Nothingness. Social Practices includes writings from and around the legendary “Chance Event—Three Days in the Desert with Jean Baudrillard” (1996), and “Radical Localism,” an exhibition of art and media from Puerto Nuevo's Mexicali Rose that Kraus co-organized with Marco Vera and Richard Birkett in 2012. Attuned to the odd and the anomalous, Kraus profiles Elias Fontes, an Imperial Valley hay merchant who has become an important collector of contemporary Mexican art, and chronicles the demise of a rural convenience store in northern Minnesota. She considers the work of such major contemporary artists as Jason Rhoades, Channa Horowitz, Simon Denny, Yayoi Kusama, Henry Taylor, Julie Becker, Ryan McGinley, and Leigh Ledare. Although Kraus casts a skeptical eye at the genre that's come to be known as “social practice,” her book is less a critique than a proposition as to how art might be read through desire and circumstance, delirium, gossip, coincidence, and revenge. All art, she implies, is a social practice.

    • Paperback $17.95 £13.99
  • After Kathy Acker

    After Kathy Acker

    A Literary Biography

    Chris Kraus

    The first authorized biography of postmodernism's literary hero, Kathy Acker.

    Acker's life was a fable; and to describe the confusion and love and conflicting agendas behind these memorials would be to sketch an apocryphal allegory of an artistic life in the late twentieth century. It is girls from which stories begin, she wrote in her last notebook. And like other lives, but unlike most fables, it was created through means both within and beyond her control.—from After Kathy Acker

    Rich girl, street punk, lost girl and icon… scholar, stripper, victim, and media-whore: The late Kathy Acker's legend and writings are wrapped in mythologies, created mostly by Acker herself. Twenty years after her death, Acker's legend has faded, making her writing more legible.In this first, fully authorized, biography, Chris Kraus approaches Acker both as a writer and as a member of the artistic communities from which she emerged. At once forensic and intimate, After Kathy Acker traces the extreme discipline and literary strategies Acker used to develop her work, and the contradictions she longed to embody. Using exhaustive archival research and ongoing conversations with mutual colleagues and friends, Kraus charts Acker's movement through some of the late twentieth century's most significant artistic enterprises.

    Beginning in her mid-teens, Acker lived her ideal of the Great Writer as Cultural Hero, and as Kraus argues, she may well have been the only female writer to succeed in assuming this role. She died of untreated cancer at an alternative clinic in Tijuana when she was fifty years old, but the real pathos of Acker's life may have been in the fact that by then she'd already outlived her ideal.

    • Hardcover $24.95
    • Paperback $16.95
  • Torpor, New Edition

    Torpor, New Edition

    Chris Kraus

    In 1991, unhappily married Sylvie and her husband set off on a journey across Eastern Europe in search of a Romanian orphan to adopt.

    Sylvie wanted to believe that misery could simply be replaced with happiness. Time was a straight line, stretching out before you. If you could create a golden kind of time and lay it right beside the other time, the time of horror, Bad History could just recede into the distance without ever having to be resolved.—from Torpor

    Set at the dawn of the New World Order, Chris Kraus's third novel, Torpor loops back to the beginning of the decade that was the basis of I Love Dick, her pseudo-confessional cult-classic debut. It's summer, 1991, post-MTV, pre-AOL. Jerome Shafir and Sylvie Green, two former New Yorkers who can no longer afford an East Village apartment, set off on a journey across the entire former Soviet Bloc with the specious aim of adopting a Romanian orphan. Nirvana's on the radio everywhere, and wars are erupting across Yugoslavia.

    Unhappily married to Jerome, a 53-year-old Columbia University professor who loathes academe, Sylvie thinks only of happiness. There are only two things, Sylvie thinks, that will save them: a child of their own, and the success of The Anthropology of Unhappiness, her husband's long-postponed book on the Holocaust. But as they move forward toward impoverished Romania, Jerome's memories of his father's extermination at Auschwitz and his own childhood survival impede them. Savagely ironic and deeply lyrical, Torpor is Kraus's most personal novel to date.

    • Paperback $16.95 £13.99
  • Aliens & Anorexia, New Edition

    Aliens & Anorexia, New Edition

    Chris Kraus

    A novel about failure, empathy, and sadness, with a cast of characters that includes Simone Weil, Paul Thek, and the author herself.

    First published in 2000, Chris Kraus's second novel, Aliens & Anorexia, defined a female form of chance that is both emotional and radical. Unfolding like a set of Chinese boxes, with storytelling and philosophy informing each other, the novel weaves together the lives of earnest visionaries and failed artists. Its characters include Simone Weil, the first radical philosopher of sadness; the artist Paul Thek; Kraus herself; and “Africa,” Kraus's virtual S&M partner, who is shooting a big-budget Hollywood film in Namibia while Kraus holes up in the Northwest woods to chronicle the failure of Gravity & Grace, her own low-budget independent film.

    In Aliens & Anorexia, Kraus makes a case for empathy as the ultimate perceptive tool, and reclaims anorexia from the psychoanalytic girl-ghetto of poor “self-esteem.” Anorexia, Kraus writes, could be an attempt to leave the body altogether: a rejection of the cynicism that this culture hands us through its food. As Palle Yourgrau writes in the book's new foreword, “Kraus's rescue operation for aliens like Weil from behind enemy lines on planet Earth is a gift, if, in the end, like all good deeds, it remains—as Weil herself would be the first to insist—a fool's errand.”

    • Paperback $16.95 £13.99
  • Summer of Hate

    Summer of Hate

    Chris Kraus

    Baudrillard meets Breaking Bad in this stark and bleakly hilarious novel about a descent into an underclass world of born-again Christianity, self-help, and crack.

    “In his journal, Paul liked to make lists: What he ordered from Commissary (shaving cream, toothpaste, deodorant, the transistor radio he had for a week before the guards took it away). The books he picked off the cart (The Bible, Dean Koontz, Stephen King, Codependent No More.) What phone calls he made and received; also, Bible Study certificates, letters and cards, his workout routines and his moods (Anxious, Nervous, Trusting in God, but mostly Depressed). Paul has a record of every push-up he did while he was in prison but he cannot remember shit about what happened before his arrest.”—from Summer of Hate

    Waking up from the chilling high of a near-death sex game, Catt Dunlop travels to Albuquerque in 2005 to reinvest some windfall real-estate gains and reengage with something approximating “real life.” Aware that the critical discourse she has used to build her career as a visiting professor and art critic is really a cipher for something else, she hopes that buying and fixing slum buildings will bring her more closely in touch with American life than the essays she writes.

    In Albuquerque, she becomes romantically involved with Paul Garcia, a recently sober ex-con who has just served sixteen months in state prison for defrauding Halliburton Industries, his former employer, of $873. Almost forty years old, Paul is highly intelligent but has only been out of New Mexico twice. He has no information. With Catt's help, he makes plans to attend UCLA, only to be arrested on a ten-year-old bench warrant en route.

    Caught in the nightmarish Byzantine world of the legal system, Catt and Paul's empathic attempts to save each other's lives seems doomed to dissolve. Summer of Hate is a novel about flawed reciprocity and American justice, recording recent events through the prism of a beleaguered romance. As lucid and trenchant as ever, Kraus in her newest novel reminds us that the writer can be a first responder of sorts when power becomes invisible, or merely banal.

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  • Where Art Belongs

    Where Art Belongs

    Chris Kraus

    Chris Kraus examines artistic enterprises of the past decade that reclaim the use of lived time as a material in the creation of visual art.

    In Where Art Belongs, Chris Kraus examines artistic enterprises of the past decade that reclaim the use of lived time as a material in the creation of visual art. In four interlinked essays, Kraus expands the argument begun in her earlier book Video Green that “the art world is interesting only insofar as it reflects the larger world outside it.” Moving from New York to Berlin to Los Angeles to the Pueblo Nuevo barrio of Mexicali, Kraus addresses such subjects as the ubiquity of video, the legacy of the 1960s Amsterdam underground newspaper Suck, and the activities of the New York art collective Bernadette Corporation. She examines the uses of boredom, poetry, privatized prisons, community art, corporate philanthropy, vertically integrated manufacturing, and discarded utopias, revealing the surprising persistence of microcultures within the matrix. Chronicling the sometimes doomed but persistently heroic efforts of small groups of artists to reclaim public space and time, Where Art Belongs describes the trend towards collectivity manifested in the visual art world during the past decade, and the small forms of resistance to digital disembodiment and the hegemony of the entertainment/media/culture industry. For all its faults, Kraus argues, the art world remains the last frontier for the desire to live differently.

    • Paperback $13.95 £10.99
  • I Love Dick

    I Love Dick

    Chris Kraus

    A self-described failed filmmaker falls obsessively in love with her theorist-husband's colleague: a manifesto for a new kind of feminism and the power of first-person narration.

    In I Love Dick, published in 1997, Chris Kraus, author of Aliens & Anorexia, Torpor, and Video Green, boldly tore away the veil that separates fiction from reality and privacy from self-expression. It's no wonder that I Love Dick instantly elicited violent controversies and attracted a host of passionate admirers. The story is gripping enough: in 1994 a married, failed independent filmmaker, turning forty, falls in love with a well-known theorist and endeavors to seduce him with the help of her husband. But when the theorist refuses to answer her letters, the husband and wife continue the correspondence for each other instead, imagining the fling the wife wishes to have with Dick. What follows is a breathless pursuit that takes the woman across America and away from her husband and far beyond her original infatuation into a discovery of the transformative power of first person narrative. I Love Dick is a manifesto for a new kind of feminist who isn't afraid to burn through her own narcissism in order to assume responsibility for herself and for all the injustice in world and it's a book you won't put down until the author's final, heroic acts of self-revelation and transformation.

    • Paperback $16.95
  • Torpor

    Torpor

    Chris Kraus

    A novel set in 1991, post-MTV, pre-AOL: Sylvie, longing for a life more like the TV show thirtysomething, sets off with her husband, Columbia University professor Jerome, to Romania to adopt a child.

    Sylvie wanted to believe that misery could simply be replaced with happiness. Time was a straight line, stretching out before you. If you could create a golden kind of time and lay it right beside the other time, the time of horror, Bad History could just recede into the distance without ever having to be resolved.—from Torpor

    Set at the dawn of the New World Order, Chris Kraus's third novel, Torpor loops back to the beginning of the decade that was the basis of I Love Dick, her pseudo-confessional cult-classic debut. It's summer, 1991, post-MTV, pre-AOL. Jerome Shafir and Sylvie Green, two former New Yorkers who can no longer afford an East Village apartment, set off on a journey across the entire former Soviet Bloc with the specious aim of adopting a Romanian orphan. Nirvana's on the radio everywhere, and wars are erupting across Yugoslavia. Unhappily married to Jerome, a 53-year-old Columbia University professor who loathes academe, Sylvie thinks only of happiness. At 35, she dreams of stuffed bears and wonders why their lives lack the tremulous sincerity that pervades thirtysomething, that season's hot new TV show. There are only two things, Sylvie thinks, that will save them: a child of their own, and the success of The Anthropology of Unhappiness, her husband's long-postponed book on the Holocaust. But as they move forward toward impoverished Romania, Jerome's memories of his father's extermination at Auschwitz and his own childhood survival impede them. Savagely ironic and deeply lyrical, Torpor explores the swirling mix of nationalisms, capital flows and negative entropy that define the present, haunted by the persistence of historical memory. Written in the third person, it is her most personal novel to date.

    • Paperback $14.95 £10.95
  • Video Green

    Video Green

    Los Angeles Art and the Triumph of Nothingness

    Chris Kraus

    Video Green examines the explosion of late 1990s Los Angeles art driven by high-profile graduate programs.

    Video Green examines the explosion of late 1990s Los Angeles art driven by high-profile graduate programs. Probing the surface of art-critical buzzwords, Chris Kraus brilliantly chronicles how the City of Angels has suddenly become the epicenter of the international art world and a microcosm of the larger culture. Why is Los Angeles so completely divorced from other realities of the city? Shrewd, analytic and witty, Video Green is to the Los Angeles art world what Roland Barthes' Mythologies were to the society of the spectacle: the live autopsy of a ghost city.

    • Paperback $16.95 £13.99
  • Hatred of Capitalism

    Hatred of Capitalism

    A Semiotext(e) Reader

    Chris Kraus and Sylvère Lotringer

    Jean Baudrillard meets Cookie Mueller in this gathering of French theory and new American fiction.

    Compiled in 2001 to commemorate the passing of an era, Hatred of Capitalism brings together highlights of Semiotext(e)'s most beloved and prescient works. Semiotext(e)'s three-decade history mirrors the history of American thought. Founded by French theorist and critic Sylvere Lotringer as a scholarly journal in 1974, Semiotext(e) quickly took on the mission of melding French theory with the American art world and punk underground. Its Foreign Agents, Native Agents, Active Agents and Double Agents imprints have brought together thinkers and writers as diverse as Gilles Deleuze, Assata Shakur, Bob Flanagan, Paul Virillio, Kate Millet, Jean Baudrillard, Michelle Tea, William S. Burroughs, Eileen Myles, Ulrike Meinhof, and Fanny Howe. In Hatred of Capitalism, editors Kraus and Lotringer bring these people together in the same volume for the first time.

    • Paperback $19.95 £14.99
  • Aliens and Anorexia

    Aliens and Anorexia

    Chris Kraus

    In Aliens & Anorexia, Kraus argues for empathy as the ultimate perceptive tool, and reclaims anorexia from the psychoanalytic girl-ghetto of poor "self-esteem."

    As the rope was tightening around my neck, an Alien made love to me. Belief is a technology for softening the landscape. The world becomes more beautiful when God is in it. Here is what happens inside a person's body when they starve.Written in the shadow of Georg Buchner's Lenz at razor pitch, Aliens and Anorexia, first published in 2000, defines a female form of chance that is both emotional and radical. The book unfolds like a set of Chinese boxes, using stories and polemics to travel through a maze that spirals back into itself. Its characters include Simone Weil, the first radical philosopher of sadness, the artist Paul Thek, Kraus herself, and "Africa," her virtual S&M partner who's shooting a big-budget Hollywood film in Namibia while Kraus holes up in the Northwest Woods for the winter to chronicle the failure of Gravity & Grace, her own low-budget independent film. In Aliens and Anorexia, Kraus argues for empathy as the ultimate perceptive tool, and reclaims anorexia from the psychoanalytic girl-ghetto of poor "self-esteem." Anorexia, Kraus writes, could be an attempt to leave the body altogether: a rejection of the cynicism this culture hands us through its food.

    • Paperback $12.95 £9.95
  • I Love Dick

    I Love Dick

    Chris Kraus

    A witty, honest, bold manifesto that tears away the veil separating fiction from reality and privacy from self-expressions.

    In I Love Dick, published in 1997, Chris Kraus, author of Aliens & Anorexia, Torpor, and Video Green, boldly tore away the veil that separates fiction from reality and privacy from self-expression. It's no wonder that I Love Dick instantly elicited violent controversies and attracted a host of passionate admirers.The story is gripping enough: in 1994 a married, failed independent filmmaker, turning forty, falls in love with a well-known theorist and endeavors to seduce him with the help of her husband. But when the theorist refuses to answer her letters, the husband and wife continue the correspondence for each other instead, imagining the fling the wife wishes to have with Dick. What follows is a breathless pursuit that takes the woman across America and away from her husband—and far beyond her original infatuation into a discovery of the transformative power of first person narrative. I Love Dick is a manifesto for a new kind of feminist who isn't afraid to burn through her own narcissism in order to assume responsibility for herself and for all the injustice in world—and it's a book you won't put down until the author's final, heroic acts of self-revelation and transformation.

    • Paperback $13.95

Contributor

  • Resentment

    Resentment

    A Comedy

    Gary Indiana

    In a novel capturing an era that seems at once familiar and grotesque, a New York writer lands in Los Angeles in 1994.

    Originally published in 1997, Resentment was the first in Gary Indiana's now-classic trilogy (followed in 1999 by Three Month Fever: The Andrew Cunanan Story and in 2003 by Depraved Indifference) chronicling the more-or-less permanent state of “depraved indifference” that characterized American life at the millennium's end.

    In Resentment, Seth, a New York–based writer arrives in Los Angeles (where he has history and friends) in mid-August, 1994, to observe what will become the marathon parricide trial of the wealthy, athletic, and troubled Martinez brothers, broadcast live every day on Court TV. Still reeling from the end of his obsessive courtship of a young SoHo artist/waiter, Seth moves between a room at the Chateau Marmont and a Mount Washington shack owned by his old cab-driving, ex-Marxist friend, Jack, while he writes a profile of Teddy Wade—one of the era's hottest young actors, who has “dared” to star as a gay character in a new Hollywood film. Studded throughout with scathing satirical portraits of media figures, other writers, and the Martinez trial teams, Resentment captures an era that seems, two decades later, at once grotesque, familiar, and a precursor to our own.

    • Paperback $15.95 £12.99
  • Bad Reputation

    Bad Reputation

    Performances, Essays, Interviews

    Penny Arcade

    An autobiographical trilogy by a cultural icon of Downtown New York.

    A reform-school runaway at thirteen, a performer in the legendary New York City Playhouse of the Ridiculous at seventeen, and an escapee from Andy Warhol's Factory scene at nineteen, Penny Arcade (born Susanna Ventura) emerged in the 1980s as a primal force on the New York art scene and an originator of what came to be called performance art. Arcade's brand of high camp and street-smart, punk-rock cabaret showmanship has been winning over international audiences ever since. This autobiographical trilogy of plays represents her at her best. Bitch! Dyke! Faghag! Whore! is Penny Arcade's raucous, cutting-edge sex and censorship show, (which continues to be a commercial hit around the world), featuring the daily life of a receptionist in a brothel, the upbringing and rearing of a “faghag,” the evolution of the New York gay scene in the 1990s, and a participatory “audience dance break.” The funny and heart-rending title work, Bad Reputation, portrays a young teen runaway's coming of age in a Catholic reform school (run by nuns who are former fashion models) and her subsequent life on the streets of 1960s New York. La Miseria, a rare depiction of working-class Italian-Americans from a woman's point of view that portrays the clash between working-class morals and compassion during the 1980s AIDS epidemic, rounds out the trilogy. Bad Reputation is the first book by and on Penny Arcade. The complete scripts are accompanied by a new interview with Penny Arcade by Chris Kraus, a range of archival photographs of the East Village scene and Arcade's performances, an introduction by playwright Ken Bernard, and contributions by Sarah Schulman, Steve Zehentner, and Stephen Bottoms.

    • Hardcover $19.95 £14.99
  • Pornocracy

    Pornocracy

    Catherine Breillat

    The novel by Catherine Breillat on which her acclaimed and reviled film Anatomy of Hell is based.

    As celebrated as it is reviled, internationally acclaimed filmmaker Catherine Breillat's novelPornocracy viscerally enacts the dramatic confluence of mystery, desire, and shame that lies at the heart of sexuality. In Pornocracy, a beautiful woman wanders through a gay disco and engages a man, confident that he will follow her. Perversely and dispassionately, she offers her body as the ground of a ritualistic game in which, over the course of three evenings, the two will explore the numbing mechanics of sexual brutality. What follows is an exchange between a man and a woman that is both frankly sexual and deeply philosophical. Adapted and directed for film in France by Breillat as Anatomy of Hell (2004), Pornocracy leads the reader through an undulating and atmospheric exploration of the criminal and the erotic, finally climaxing in a place well beyond more familiar moral terrain. Although Breillat's films—most recently Fat Girl (2001) and Romance (1999)—are well known to international audiences, this publication marks her literary debut in America. It will demonstrate that Breillat's famous films are but one aspect of her strikingly original poetic and philosophical vision.

    Catherine Breillat is a filmmaker and writer based in Paris. She is known not only for her films focusing on themes of sexuality, but also for her best-selling novels. Pornocracy is the first of her novels to be published in English.

    • Paperback $14.95 £11.99
  • In the Shadow of the Silent Majorities, New Edition

    In the Shadow of the Silent Majorities, New Edition

    Jean Baudrillard

    Baudrillard's remarkably prescient meditation on terrorism throws light on post-9/11 delusional fears and political simulations.

    Published one year after Forget Foucault, In the Shadow of the Silent Majorities (1978) may be the most important sociopolitical manifesto of the twentieth century: it calls for nothing less than the end of both sociology and politics. Disenfranchised revolutionaries (the Red Brigades, the Baader-Meinhof Gang) hoped to reach the masses directly through spectacular actions, but their message merely played into the hands of the media and the state. In a media society meaning has no meaning anymore; communication merely communicates itself. Jean Baudrillard uses this last outburst of ideological terrorism in Europe to showcase the end of the "Social." Once invoked by Marx as the motor of history, the masses no longer have sociological reality. In the electronic media society, all the masses can do—and all they will do—is enjoy the spectacle. In the Shadow of the Silent Majorities takes to its ultimate conclusion the "end of ideologies" experienced in Europe after the Soviet invasion of Hungary and the death of revolutionary illusions after May 1968. Ideological terrorism doesn't represent anything anymore, writes Baudrillard, not even itself. It is just the last hysterical reaction to discredited political illusions.

    • Paperback $14.95 £11.99
  • More & Less 2

    More & Less 2

    Sylvère Lotringer

    Contributors: Todd Alden, Lisa Anne Auerbach, Georges Bataille, Jean Baudrillard, David Brown, Gilles Deleuze, Craig Ellwood, Bob Flanagan, Michel Foucault, Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe, Mike Kelley, Joseph Kosuth, Chris Kraus, Julia Kristeva, Don Kubly, Sylvère Lotringer, Deran Ludd, John Miller, Eileen Myles, Darcy Jo Paley, Ann Rower, Sue Spaid, Frances Stark, Mark Stritzel, James Tyler.

    Contributors Todd Alden, Lisa Anne Auerbach, Georges Bataille, Jean Baudrillard, David Brown, Gilles Deleuze, Craig Ellwood, Bob Flanagan, Michel Foucault, Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe, Mike Kelley, Joseph Kosuth, Chris Kraus, Julia Kristeva, Don Kubly, Sylvère Lotringer, Deran Ludd, John Miller, Eileen Myles, Darcy Jo Paley, Ann Rower, Sue Spaid, Frances Stark, Mark Stritzel, James Tyler.

    • Paperback $16.95 £11.95
  • Sadness at Leaving

    Sadness at Leaving

    An Espionage Romance

    Erje Ayden

    Pulp fiction writer Erje Ayden's coy novel is his most autobiographical work—if one accepts his claim that he worked as a spy for the Turkish government in the 1960s and 70s.

    I wonder if it is lustful A tank in its dreams What do airplanes think When left alone? We did not seek happiness We invented sadness Were we not of this world?—Orhan Veli, epigram to Sadness at Leaving

    During the 1960s and 70s, Turkish-born Erje Ayden served as house pulp fiction writer to the New York School of painters and poets. Friend and sometime bodyguard to the artist Willem De Kooning, Ayden self-published 7 pop novels, written in rapid amphetamine bursts in borrowed apartments and rooming houses. Sadness at Leaving, re-published by Semiotext(e) in 1998, is Ayden's most autobiographical work—if one accepts, as he claims, that he worked as a spy for the Turkish government throughout those years. East Berlin, 1959: Following the erection of the Berlin wall, special agent Carl Halman is assigned by East German intelligence to move to New York where he'll "sleep" as a writer until he is called. Using the code-name "April 23," Carl successfully infiltrates the uptown-downtown literary world in 1950s New York. He edits a magazine, follows the Knicks, and marries Melinda, the socialite wife of best-selling jock novelist Hubert Cleaver, Ayden's hilarious Norman Mailer pastiche. Through Carl's eyes, we see New York City change from an outpost of Europe to the new capital of an anarchistic, post-ideological world. But then, when Carl least expects it, he's called.

    • Paperback $15.00 £12.95