Wayne Koestenbaum

Wayne Koestenbaum—poet, critic, novelist, artist, performer—has published nineteen books, including The Queen's Throat, which was praised by Susan Sontag as "a brilliant book" and was a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist. Formerly Associate Professor of English at Yale and Visiting Professor in the Yale School of Art's painting department, he is Distinguished Professor of English, French, and Comparative Literature at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York City.

  • The Cheerful Scapegoat

    The Cheerful Scapegoat

    Fables

    Wayne Koestenbaum

    Wayne Koestenbaum's first book of short fiction: a collection of whimsical, surreal, baroque, ribald, and heartbreaking fables.

    In his first book of short fiction—a collection of whimsical, surreal, baroque, ribald, and heartbreaking fables—Wayne Koestenbaum takes the gloom and melancholy of our own terrifying political moment and finds subversive solace by overturning the customary protocols of tale-telling. Characters and narrators wander into strange locales; the difference between action and thinking, between reality and dream, grows moot in a heightened yet burlesque manner. The activities in The Cheerful Scapegoat are a cross between a comedy of manners and a Sadean orgy. Language has its own desires: figures of speech carry an erotic charge that straddles the line between slapstick and vertigo. Punishment hangs over every dialogue—but in the fable-world of The Cheerful Scapegoat, abjection comes with an undertaste of contentment. The tchotchkes of queer culture—codes and signifiers—get scrambled together and then blown up into an improbable soufflé.

    Koestenbaum's fables travel in circles, slipping away from their original point and leading the reader to a paradisiacal suspension of fixed categories. Intensified sentences and curlicue narratives scheme together mesmerically to convince the reader to abandon old ways of thinking and to take on a commitment to the polymorphous, the wandering, the tangential. Koestenbaum's fables--emergency bulletins uttered in a perverse vernacular of syntactic pirouettes—alert us to the necessity of pushing language into new contortions of exactitude and ecstatic excess.

    • Paperback $16.95

Contributor

  • Now the Night Begins

    Now the Night Begins

    Alain Guiraudie

    A novel that is a meditation on friendship, love, obsession, power, and abuse, by turns hyperrealist and phantasmagoric, recalling the work of Sade and Bataille.

    And he leaves. I'm not happy, I'm pretty upset at myself, I wasn't satisfied with him but I wouldn't have been any better without him. I sit on the couch and think. I'm not actually thinking, it's already been thought, I have to call Grampa... I need to hear his voice. I miss him.—from Now the Night Begins

    At the tail end of summer vacation, Gilles Heurtebise drifts between lazy afternoons, swimming, cruising the shores of a nearby lake, and absentmindedly hooking up with old lovers. He has yet to achieve material or romantic stability. He is forty, facing a precarious future with unformed fears and regrets. The one thing that seems solid is Grampa, the ninety-year-old patriarch of a family Gilles has befriended. Gilles grows obsessed by the old man, and a strange sexual bond grows between the two. When the police get involved, and Gilles is witness to a murder, the banality of interhuman violence is brought to a paroxysmal climax.

    The winner of France's prestigious Prix Sade, Now the Night Begins is a meditation on friendship, love, power, and abuse in a world where social relations have radically disintegrated. Interwoven with swaths of Occitan, the language of troubadours and love, and by turns hyperrealist and phantasmagoric, the novel recalls Georges Bataille's dark surrealism and the unvarnished violence of Bret Easton Ellis. It proves Alain Guiraudie's status as the preeminent writer of the vulnerability underlying our contemporary malaise.

    “The genial perversity of Alain Guiraudie's Now the Night Begins is something rare and fascinatingly energized, a metaphysical and moral slapstick that points to the arbitrariness of all authority and the fluidity of all desires. In its way, the most elegant, certainly the most hilarious brief for anarchy that anyone has written in a long time.”—Gary Indiana

    “Raw, sexual, and scatological, Alain Guiraudie's novel evokes Sade and Bataille.”—Elisabeth Philippe

    • Hardcover $24.95