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The Front Matter, Dead Souls

Leslie Scalapino

Publication Year: 1996

Leslie Scalapino is widely regarded as one of the best avant-garde writers in America today. This extraordinary new book is essay-fiction-poetry, an experiment in form, "a serial novel for publication in the newspaper" that collapses the distinction between documentary and fiction. Loosely set in Los Angeles, the book scrutinizes our image-making, producing extreme and vivid images-hyena, Muscle Beach in Venice, the Supreme Court, subway rides-in order for them to be real. Countering contemporary trends toward interiority, Scalapino's work constitutes a unique effort to "be" objectively in the world. The writing is an action, a dynamic push to make intimacy in the public realm. She does not distinguish between poetry and "real events": her writing is analogous to Buddhist notions of dreaming one is a butterfly, and becoming aware that actually being the butterfly is as real as dreaming it.

Published by: Wesleyan University Press

Title Page

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pp. iii


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pp. iv

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pp. 1-2

The Front Matter, Dead Souls is a serial novel for publication in the newspaper. Its paragraph-length chapters can also be published singly on billboards or outdoors as murals. Parts of it were submitted to various newspapers during the election campaign, though not accepted. ...

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pp. 2-18

At the moment the wrestler is thrown sagging draped on the mat. A man squats in the center of a stand on a platform. His clothes open showing his chest. He shoves flat fish on a long wooden paddle. One eats the salty sweet fish in the black night. ...

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pp. 18-34

The quiet imageless eyes float in the sockets. Whatever Akira was waiting for isn't going to occur at all. That's the self being too stable, but he is not one, deliberately not a construction of oneself. He's on the occurrence ahead only in existence. ...

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pp. 34-44

I'm Deerslayer. The handsome head of sumo answers the phone, and since Dead Souls isn't there, Defoe tells him she's going to the Getty Museum to meet the partner and needs money then to leave. To tell the latter that. ...

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pp. 45-54

Invisible, not that they're not real, actions occur so that one's seeing has to change to be realistic. These actions are constantly denied by those in them, though sometimes they are not denied and are corroborated exactly. ...

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pp. 54-69

Walking on the sailing quiet pillars with the red ball in the stream, I went on the floating deserted road toward the dissolving frames around me everywhere crumbling afire in the black air. I'm a scout on the quiet road into it. ...

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pp. 69-80

Akira's lying on the black air of dawn. Being in the crowd that is curled on the sidewalk is on the rose line of dawn where there's no perception. Ever. The chest gel is bared as a glowing worm in the crowd set in the man flat whose limbs are stretched, or rather not themselves but hanging out floating from him in the rose air. ...

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Appendix: The Sky of Text

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pp. 81-95

The hump (Akira) floating on the waves of the night curled legless is identifiable in the fiery horizon, hanging visible in it. It has no existence except its repetition. The flying whorl ruffling in the night is a steel banded legless which comes to her and comes in her arms. ...

E-ISBN-13: 9780819572615
Print-ISBN-13: 9780819552907

Page Count: 103
Publication Year: 1996