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Godlike (Little House on the Bowery)by Richard Hell
Nominated for the Henry Miller Award
Synopses & Reviews
Godlike, Richard Hell's second novel, is a stunning achievement, and quite likely his most important work in any medium to date. Combining the grit, wit, and invention of Go Now with the charged lyricism and emotional implosiveness of his groundbreaking music, Godlike is brillant in form as well as dazzling in its heartwrenching tale of one whose values in life are the values of poetry. Set largely in the early '70s, but structured as a middle-aged poet's 1997 notebooks and drafts for a memoir-novel, the book recounts the story of a young man's affair with a remarkable teenage poet. Godlike is a novel of compelling originality and trascendent beauty.
"Poet and punk pioneer Hell's lyrically melancholy second novel (after Go Now), set primarily in the East Village circa 1972, honors decadence and dissolution and celebrates art and angst in a compelling if unsettling story of 27-year-old married poet Paul Vaughn's ('I'm not really a faggot. I just have a queer streak') transcendent affair with a 16-year-old. Would-be poet Randall Terence Wode ('T') is 'a rampaging adolescent' whose 'bony boy's buttocks' become, for a brief time, the center of Vaughn's physical desire, and whose brash spirit is, for 30 years, the core of Vaughn's emotional universe. The novel's wrenching account of a memorable love, peppered with poems (some original, others by James Schuyler, Ron Padgett and others), skips between the months of the older poet's affair with the cocky young Kentucky runaway and, decades later, the month of Vaughn's most recent institutionalization for psychiatric observation. But Hell's prose, alternately explosive and tender but always charged with rewarding humanity, ably propels the story. By no means a mainstream effort, this gritty novel will find readers in the demimonde of poets and people who read them, and among those who appreciate how artistry and sexuality can fuel each other. (July)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[Hell's] every move and word reveal a naked, impassioned intelligence in the throes of the only truly rock and roll artistic convulsion." Lester Bangs
"From the beginning, Richard Hell has burned with the same blue flame of misfit insight and desperate beauty." Jerry Stahl, Bookforum
"Vile, scabrous, unforgivable, and deserving of the widest possible audience." William Gibson (on Hell's fiction)
Rock legend Richard Hell (Television, Voidoids) joins cult hero Dennis Cooper's Little House on the Bowery roster. Cooper is the editor of the series. Legendary writer, artist, and punk rock innovator Richard Hell's second novel is a stunning achievement, and quite likely his most important work in any medium to date. Combining the grit, wit, and daring narrative drive of his acclaimed first novel Go Now with the charged lyricism and emotional implosiveness of his groundbreaking music, Godlike is both an important novel and a dazzling, heartbreaking examination of what it means to be an artist in an America of idiots, thieves, and liars.
Combining grit, wit, and daring narrative drive with the charged lyricism and emotional implosiveness of Hell's groundbreaking music, Godlike is a dazzling, heartbreaking examination of what it means to be an artist in an America of idiots, thieves, and liars.
Rock legend Richard Hell (Television, Voidoids) joins cult hero Dennis Cooper's Little House on the Bowery roster.
Fiction. Richard Hell's second novel, GODLIKE, is set largely in the early 70s, but structured as a middle-aged poet's 1997 notebooks and drafts for a memoir-novel. The book recounts the story of a young man's affair with a remarkable teenage poet. GODLIKE is a novel of compelling originality and transcendent beauty. "[Hell's] every move and word reveal a naked, impassioned intelligence in the throes of the only truly rock and roll artistic convulsion"--Lester Bangs.
About the Author
Richard Hell is best known as one of the originators of the punk movement. His records include Blank Generation (1977) and Time (2000). His published books include a novel, Go Now (Scribner, 1996), Hot and Cold (Powerhouse, 2001) and numerous collections of poetry. He lives in New York City.
Introducing Little House on the Bowery
by Dennis Cooper
When I first began to read and write fiction, contemporary literature seemed a venue of originality, boldness, and adventure. It was the late '60s, a very different time in culture and publishing. One could walk into any suburban chain bookstore and find hordes of novels and short story collections offering the prospect of entertainment, emotional and/or intellectual enlightenment, and an anarchic literary spirit. Prominent publishers like New Directions and Grove Press were reliable sources of fresh and fascinating fiction. I knew I could buy any book from these presses and have at the very least an unusual and very engrossing reading experience. In those days, the feeling that innovation and personal vision were the goals of contemporary literature was a pervasive one, and this impression shaped the expectations of my generation of writers and book lovers.
It's no news that things have changed drastically since that time. Major presses have become extremely timid when it comes to taking chances on writers whose work doesn't fit within their predetermined marketing strategies. What was once known optimistically as "avant-garde fiction" has been marginalized into the more demeaning category of "experimental fiction," and a gulf has grown between "commercial fiction" and fiction with challenges to the reader, which is now deemed a chancy investment. There are small publishing houses that champion difficult work, and large houses that occasionally release books with unusual content and style so long as their form and structure pose no real threat to the predilections of conventional book buyers. But the general literary climate in the United States today is not a friendly one to readers and writers who seek in fiction an experience of a unique and startling nature. It's no surprise that young adventurers have all but abandoned literature in favor of more accessible and apparently vital art forms like movies and popular music.
Because my own novels are both radical and somewhat prominent, I'm often given work by young writers who see my achievement as a sign that their unusual, autonomous fiction could be published and respected, and might find some kind of audience. Once in a while, these writers are truly extraordinary, and I do my best to encourage their efforts and help them succeed. What they don't realize is that my work is something of an anomaly in mainstream publishing, and that the opportunities for writers like myself come only very occasionally. After years of trying to use my limited powers to help these writers into print with rare success, I decided to initiate a line of books to showcase the best of these authors. Thanks to the generosity and enthusiasm of Akashic Books, readers will now have every opportunity to discover some of these amazing new talents.
Little House on the Bowery will be a line of fiction books in the tradition of the young New Directions and Grove Press. Its concentration will be on younger North American writers who believe that fiction can be as entertaining, challenging, revelatory, and, in a word, important as any other medium. I hope Little House on the Bowery will be a reliable source for readers who want literature to be an adventure on the levels of content and style. I also want it to be an oasis for people who have come to see contemporary literature as a spotty, conservative medium. I want to create a forum for a wide variety of younger writers whose tremendous gifts and personal vision warrant a broad readership, and whose work holds the possibility of impacting the future of American fiction. I believe these authors are important new voices whose novels and story collections offer what should be the prerequisite of literature: a meaningful, pleasurable, and very impressive surprise. Beginning in the spring of 2003, Little House on the Bowery will begin publishing two titles per year. I hope that critics and readers will give these books careful attention. As their editor, I promise in turn to select works with enough wisdom and daring to deserve the attention and support.
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