Marquis de Sade: [His new wife, Penny Porsche-de Sade, who’s flashing his new book, On the Paradisal Heights of The Orgasm Circus: Existentialism Is for Uptight Victorians and Dummies to cameramen, on his arm. Waves.] Hi!Hello. [Beaming.] Hi. [Throwing kisses to the fans in the bleachers.] Bonjour! Love every one of you!
PORTRAITS OF RUIN by Joseph S. Pulver, Sr.
with an introduction of rare quality, by Matt Cardin
Published by Hippocampus Press
Don't judge a book by its cover
This rather typically Horror-screaming cover covers many sins: damn fun, romantic lust, delirious joy; intense observation, oddly enough, of others ("Gull-voice oboe cries", "Gill standing [wearing a black wig / under the wig her real hair is wet--the wig sticks unevenly--some of it is flat and sticks out like crow feathers", "At this distance it could be an angel or the eyes of a pumpkin." "the accomplishments of a dead animal", "A shadow walks the street like a bass player with somewhere to go."); playfulness; heart-rending beauty as indissectible as a rainbow; magic; music in timbres unique to this writer, as if he'd mixed his own alloy and poured it, red-hot, to cast his own bell.
There are many styles here, too. Sure, there's the whole panoply of human pain and paingivers, but that's only part of the whole.
Pulver is famous for his unique let-it-all-flow-out style, but there are many here. Also, the easy flow is, I suspect, as easy as an iceskater's smoothness.
the fluent scent of disorderedIn this book the spaces matter. Fonts matter. So does all the punctuation. So does every word, no matter how shed like skin cells from aetheria and swept up it might seem. It's clear that Pulver is not only a perfectionist, but an agonist (isn't it an undramatised tragedy that this word, a noun even, isn't represented in dictionaries by meaning #3: 'one who agonises'— the snobs). (But as I was leading up to: five stars for the production team at Hippocampus Press, for this is a most excellently set book, with a variety of treatments, each executed with much care.)
The skill of writing is consummate and invisible, never dazzling us with lectures on technique. Nor is there any of that painfully padded & crafted abuse of words and our patience that is so common with MFA-waving 'experimental' authors. (I highly recommend Matt Cardin's unusually useful and most interesting introduction. It talks of many things, including trying experimentalism; and would be an excellent essay for anyone who must read anything about what is written.)
Above all, this collection reminds me of Rimsky-Korsakov's "Scheherazade"; and if I had covered it, I would have woken Bakst, who would, I know, have done it for a copy he could take back with him; for Portraits of Ruin tells innumerable stories, not vaguely in the least—with no bullshit, but richly and not specifically (and he doesn't leave those hated 'ly words' and adjectives' to die from no exposure).
Furthermore, the celebrated Pulver flow cannot disguise his genuine romanticism, not one wedded to doom but surprisingly mushy. This collection could easily be sold with a chocolate box cover, and satisfy consumers. Oddly, this little secret is something no one ever mentions.
She removes her flower-print cotton dress—one land of tinted-weather melted to a hungry landscape of astronomy (every star for me to see). Offers this vampire ingot-nipples, oh the torchlight-joy contact. I FEEL TOTAL. Offers me that magnificent heart—Burn-burn-burn—Burn-burn! My own Alice, crackling, laughing, Drink me. Drink me. Come that I might annotate you with kisses and commas and prickled clouds. Come with your need. My cupcakes breasts will paint you with strawberry whispers.I have told you this to pay him back for another unsocial characteristic of his. Many times in the past months in which I have had the privilege of fluffing his moustache with correspondence, I have quoted back a sentence or phrase that he's minted, because I've liked it so. He never remembers a one. I truly think he doesn't even wear his books in his coat.
The only other criticism I can think of is one about humility. Pulver has too much of it. Stop hoarding it, man. The rest of the world needs more.