Readers, friends, less than friends, enemies, Critics! Here l am at it again with Book I of Guignol! Don’t judge me too soon! Wait awhile for what’s to follow! Book II! Book II! it all clears up! develops, straightens out! As is, % of it’s missing! Is that a way to do things? It had to be printed fast because with things as they are you don’t know who’s living or dead! Denoel? you? me?. I was off for 1,200 pages! Just imagine!
"Oh! it’s good he’s letting us know! We’ll never buy the rest of it! What a crook! What a botched book! What a bore! What a guignol! What a slob! What a traitor!”
I know, I know, I’m used to it.. that’s my music!
I give everyone a pain in the ass.
And what if they study it in school in two hundred years, and the Chinese too? What’ll you say then?
"Take it easy! wise guy! What about the three dots? Ah! all over the place again! An outrage! He’s butchering the Trench language! It’s scandalous! Into jail! Give us back our dough! Nauseating! He’s damaging our complements! The pig! Ah! things are bad!”
An awful session!
"Unreadable! Sex-maniac! Damned Loafer! Crook!”
For the time being.
Here comes Denoel, beside himself!..
"See here, l don’t understand it at all! It’s terrible! impossible! All I see in your book is brawling! It’s not even a book! we’re heading straight for disaster! Neither head nor tail!”
I could bring him King Lear so he could see massacres.
What does he see in existence?
And then it cools off.. everyone gets used to it!.. it all works out.. Till the next time!
The same cackle every time. A lot of yelling and then it calms down. They never like what you give them. It hurts them! Oooooh! or it’s too long!.. it bores them!.. always something!.. It’s never what they want! and then they suddenly go wild about it! Try to figure them out! Go get all hot and bothered! all a matter of whim! I expect it to take a good year to ripen.. let everyone have his say, spit out his bile, shoot his mouth off, overflow.. Then silence.. and a hundred, two hundred thousand buy it.. on the sly..and read it.. and squabble.. twenty thousand adore it, learn it by heart.. it’s the Pantheon.
The same scenario every time.
Death on the Installment Plan was received, please remember, by a barrage of intensity, snarling and spleen, such as you seldom see! The whole works, the dregs of criticism, out-and-out swearing, churchgoers, masons, Jews, men and women, four-eyes, whisperers, athletes, ass-scratchers, the whole Legion, all standing up, wild-looking, foaming gibberish!
The finishing shot!
And then it subsides and now, you see, Death on the Installment Plan is more popular than Journey. He’s even gobbling up all our paper! He’s outrageous!
So it goes…
"Oh/ hut there*s the word, 'shit! Coarseness! That's what attracts your clientele!”
"Oh! I see you a mile off! Its easy to talk! Got to know when to say it! Just try! Not everyone can shit right! It would be too easy!”
I'm giving you some idea of how things stand. Ym taking you backstage so you won't get any illusions.. I had some in the beginning.. but not now.. experience…
It's even funny, they jabber and get all worked up.. arguing yes and no about the three dots.. whether you're making damned fools of them.. and now one thing and then another. what airs he puts on!. the affectation.. etc. and so on..and the commas!..but no one asks me what I think!.. and they make comparisons. I'm not jealous, please believe me!.. I really don't give a damn! So much the better for other books!.. But I just can't read them.. I find them sketchy, not-written, stillborn, neither finished nor likely to be, lifeless..they're not much.. or else they live on phrases, all hideous and black, ink-heavy, phrasish deaths, rhetorish deaths. Ah! It's pretty sad! Matter of taste.
To hell with the invalid! you'll say to yourself. I'll let you have my ailment, you won't be able to read a single sentence! And since we're on secrets, I'm going to let you in on another one.. appalling, oh my, horrible!.. really absolutely deadly.. that I'd rather share right away!.. and that warped my whole life..
Got to admit to you about my grandfather, named Auguste Destouches, he went in for rhetoric, was even professor of it at the lycie in Le Havre, and was brilliant at it, around 1855.
Which means I distrust it bad! May be an innate tendency!
I've got all of grandfather's writings, his bundles of them, his rough drafts, drawerfuls! Terrific! He used to write the prefect’s speeches, I assure you, in one hell of a style! What a hand with adjectives! How he stuck in the flowers! Never a faux pas! Moss and vine leaves! Sons of the Gracchi! Maxims and everything! In prose and verse alike! He won all the medals of the French Academy.
I keep them with strong emotion.
That’s my ancestor! So I know something about the language, and not since yesterday like lots of others! I’m telling you right away! down to the fine points!
I crapped out all my "effects,” my "litotes,” and my "pertinences” into my diapers..
I’m through with them! they’d be the death of me! My grandfather Auguste agrees. He says to me from up above, he calls down to me from the sky, "Child, no phrases.”
He knows what’s needed to make it tick. I’m making it tick!
Ah! I’m intransigent, something fierce! If I ever fell into "periods” again.. three dots! ten! twelve dots! help! Nothing at all if necessary! That’s how I am!
Jazz knocked out the waltz, impressionism killed "faux-jour,” you’ll write in "telegraphic” or you won’t write at all:
Excitement’s everything in life!
Got to know how to use it!
Excitement’s everything in life!
When you’re dead it’s over!
Up to you to understand! Get hot! "There’s nothing but brawls in all your chapters!” What an objection! What crap! Watch out! Dopiness! By the yard! Fluttery twittering! Go get God excited! Rub-a-dub-dub! Jump! Wiggle! Bust out of your shell! Use your bean, you little hustlers! Break open! Palpitate, damn it! That’s where the fun is! All right! Something! Wake up! Come on, hello! You robot crap! Shit! Transpose or it’s death!
I can't do any more for you.
Kiss any girl you please! If there's still time! Here's to you! If you live! The rest’ll come all by itself! Happiness, health, grace and fun! Don’t worry too much about me! set your little heart going!
It'll be whatever you put into it! storm or flute! as in Hell! as in Heaven!
Boom! Zoom!. It’s the big smashup!. The whole street caving in at the water front!.. It’s Orleans crumbling and thunder in the Grand Cafe!. A table sails by and splits the air!.. Marble bird!.. spins round, shatters a window to splinters!.. A houseful of furniture rocks, spirts from the casements, scatters in a rain of fire!.. The proud bridge, twelve arches, staggers, topples smack into the mud. The slime of the river splatters!.. mashes, splashes the mob yelling choking overflowing at the parapet!.. It’s pretty bad..
Our jalopy balks, shivers, squeezed diagonally on the sidewalk between three trucks, drifts, hiccups, it’s dead! Fagged engine! Been warning us since Colombes that she can’t hold out! with a hundred asthmatic wheezes. She was born for normal service… not for a hell-hunt!.. The whole mob fuming at our heels because we’re not moving. That we’re a lousy calamity!.. That’s an idea!.. The two hundred eighteen thousand trucks, tanks and handcarts massed and melted in the horror, straddling one another to get by first, ass over heels, the bridge crumbling, are tangled up, ripping each other, squashing wildly. Only a bicycle gets away and without the handle bar..
Things are bad!. The world’s collapsing!..
"Stop blocking the way you lousy pigs! Go take a crap you slimy lice! ”
Not everything’s said! Or carried out! Still things to do!.. Pirouette!
The engineering officer’s preparing something! Another blast of thunder! Sets the fuse at the small end. It’s a demon!
.. But suddenly his gadget roars out and crackles right between his fingers!.. the whole shebang blasts him, pours on him, tears him apart, somersaults him wildly away.. The column gets going, the motors are all roaring and spitting in an unbearable din!. Terrifying remarks and blasphemies!.
Everything! the carcasses! the junk! the tanks! piles upon the crunching and rattling caterpiller-guns that smash all interference under the direction of a quartermaster! It’s the saraband of fright, the fair under the crawling-dislocating thunder! It’s the rubber-man who wins! Ah! hooray for the cosmic scoundrel, the unscrupulous bachelor with the corkscrew bicycle, the armored stinker!..
The Fritz is peppering away like mad, swooping down from the skies! The louse! He’s bzzbzzing us! he’s sprinkling us from the summits, he’s enveloping us, he’s whirring at us!.. It’s the fury of murder, wild volleys and raging stabs! ricocheting all about! He’s watering us, spilling us to death! And then he starts us up again, he’s getting a big kick out ...