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Authors: Gilbert Sorrentino

Lunar Follies

BOOK: Lunar Follies
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LUNAR FOLLIES

by Gilbert Sorrentino

Coffee House Press
2005

COPYRIGHT © 2005 by Gilbert Sorrentino
COVER + BOOK DESIGN Linda Koutsky
COVER PHOTO © Rana K. Williamson

Coffee House Press books are available to the trade through our primary distributor, Consortium Book Sales & Distribution, 1045 Westgate Drive, Saint Paul, MN 55114. For personal orders, catalogs, or other information, write to: Coffee House Press, 27 North Fourth Street, Suite 400, Minneapolis, MN 55401.

Coffee House Press is a nonprofit literary publishing house. Support from private foundations, corporate giving programs, government programs, and generous individuals help make the publication of our books possible. We gratefully acknowledge their support in detail in the back of this book. To you and our many readers across the country, we send our thanks for your continuing support.

LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CIP DATA
Sorrentino, Gilbert.
Lunar follies/by Gilbert Sorrentino.
p. cm.
ISBN-13: 978-1-56689-169-1 (alk. paper)
ISBN-10: 1-56689-169-8 (alk. paper)
ISBN: 978-1-56689-290-2 (ebook)
1. Art—Exhibitions—Fiction. 2. Arts—Fiction. I. Title.
PS3569.07L86 2005
813’.54—DC22
2004028140

3 5 7 9 8 6 4 2

Portions of this work first appeared in
McSweeney’s.

LUNAR FOLLIES

CONTENTS

Alphonsus
Alpine Valley
Alps
Altai Scarp
Appennines
Archimedes
Aristoteles
Carpathians
Catharina
Caucasus Mountains
Clavius
Cleomedes
Copernicus
Cordillera Mountains
Eastern Sea
Eratosthenes
Fra Mauro
Gassendi
Grimaldi
Humboldt
Hyginus Rille
J. Herschel
Joliot-Curie
Jules Verne
Jura Mountains
Lake of Dreams
Langrenus
Longomontanus
Moscow Sea
Neper
Ocean of Storms
Petavius
Plato
Posidonius
Ptolemaeus
Purbach
Pythagoras
Riccioli
Rook Mountains
Sea of Clouds
Sea of Cold
Sea of Crises
Sea of Fertility
Sea of Moisture
Sea of Nectar
Sea of Rains
Sea of Serenity
Sea of Tranquillity
Straight Wall
Theophilus
Tsiolkovsky
Tycho
Walther

“… while the ears, be we mikealls or nicholists, may sometimes be inclined to believe others the eyes, whether browned or nolensed, find it devilish hard now and again even to believe itself.”

FINNEGANS WAKE

“You’re painting a shoe; you start painting the sole, and it turns into a moon; you start painting the moon, and it turns into a piece of bread.”

PHILIP GUSTON

ALPHONSUS

George Alphonsus, famed as the Supreme Master of Magic, is said to have had a hand in creating the illusion that has, quite successfully and convincingly, asserted itself as “art for our time.” The question asked most frequently has been, “what of the millennium?” Or, on occasion, “what of the exciting millennium?” George
creates
the convincing illusion, which, most agree, silences the seasoned and cynical journalists, who are, of course, the framers of such questions as have to do with “art for our time.” For instance: “Is baseball too slow for our ultra-busy, speeded-up, on-the-go age?” “Will the loathsome cockroach lead the way to a cure for breast cancer?” “Was John Kennedy Junior a closet queen?” “Do we have to die?” “How can we be happy in a bad job?” And “Is birth-control science the way to the Rapture?” But to the Supreme Master of Magic, anent his astonishing and artistic illusions (which, he insists, and strongly, on calling “The art of astonishing and artistic illusions”), they ask, e.g., “How does it feel, George?” Silence usually ensues, and so it’s on to the snow-chains story; the heat-wave story; the story of the tough coach and his swell young protégé; the killer-hurricane (with puppy) story; the mudslide story and the people who will rebuild; the forest-fire story and the people who will rebuild; the flash-flood story and the people who will rebuild; the depraved priest story and the youths he abused every night for nine years; and, of course, the magnificent new stadium that will seat 150,000, cost nothing, make an entire city rich, and stamp out the cocaine trade as well, so that the little guy, if white, will win at least maybe story. And all the while, through rain and fog and the golden California sun that bakes the brain right through the jaunty baseball caps that are always the rage, George, the Supreme Master of Magic’s, newest illusion is, yes, right this way, over here, yes, here you go, right by the spilled latte, yes: illusion dot com dot magicgeorge dot com you chumps.

ALPINE VALLEY

The place or space or venue is rife or blossoming with pictures or photographs or collages or photocollages of the famous avant-garde publisher’s wife, the famous underground diva or fringe dancer or performance artist, whose most renowned and transgressive “happening”—as such events were termed in the sixties in all their rude and feverish innocence and glamour—“Cunnus Delicti,” concluded with the artist slowly pulling a long, thin scroll of paper from her vagina. In between periods of “whirlwind creativity,” as her husband smilingly notes, she likes to read the submissions that come in over the transom, as they occasionally say in publishing. This spousal remark is recorded, in its totality, amid the images that virtually surround one in the studio, amid a clash of vital forms. One novel was thought to be too long for its fragile premise, yet the choreographic instincts that inform the artist’s “mind” are too present ever to permit her to define the word “premise. “This has always been her way, so says her adoring husband, from behind his aromatically billowing briar. “She has an eye for the authentic,” he is quoted as saying in a yellowing, brittle newspaper clipping, the words glowing with orange highlighter ink or solution or is it, perhaps, a kind of water color? Above this focal point, or “coign,” as a dear old friend from “boardwalk days” has called it, this endearing remark, virtually palpable in its compassion for the real, the authentic, the unashamedly
human,
is a photograph of the artist, in her
defining moment,
pulling the paper scroll from her proud, naked vagina; and, just above the photograph, sharing the wall space that overlooks the massive worktable crammed, as always, with ideas for new dances, new performance ideas, new and startling contortions, just above it, stained, creased, covered with admirers’ notes of congratulation and admiration, and, forebodingly, warning, like a stern aegis, or a harbinger of just what art can be, is the discolored scroll itself, assertive, defiant!

BOOK: Lunar Follies
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