Xerox Over Manhattan (XOM) was written four years ago. One of the characters is called President Ricky.
Presidents, whether they’re presidents of the free world or not, are usually as morally bereft, ghoulish, perverted and insufficient, as President Ricky.
However, my original intention was that President Ricky was some malevolent capitalist gangster, possibly in charge of something like a petrochemical plant - or something like Standard Oil.
XOM contains ailments, barbarism, ineptitude and multiple vulgarities – just what you would expect from some corporate hell raiser called President Ricky.
To fully capture these crudities, this bottomless incompetence, the story needed to be told in a way whereby the narrative skinned against considerable jump cuts, where images were pinched to cause significant displacement for the reader.
My objective was to cause bewilderment by having an echo, or a replication of sentences – a somnambulist drift between tenses, an unyielding surplus of information, no dialogue, a total refusal of introduction/beginning/end, to condemn the idea that synopsis and narrative can only be decreased to goal, motivation and conflict.
During the assembly of the manuscript, the construction perhaps, I dismissed turning points, any moral compass, and character arc. These three things aren’t important to me. I was not interested in literary norms from the past.
XOM wanted to upraise an exaggerated sense of vagueness, to adjure worlds within worlds, stories between (and inside) other stories to make no distinction between reality and illusion.
I can see why people could assume that President Ricky is about the current POTUS, or even any previous placeholder of that position, but given that it was written years ago, it clear that it is not about the current POTUS.
However, I cannot dismiss that interpretation if that is how one reads the novel.
President Ricky is a cryptograph for all your concerns.
Please enjoy this excerpt– PLAY LOUD.
An Excerpt from Xerox Over Manhattan:
President Ricky licks my skin, leaving a blue mark. Campaign rallies held from abandoned aqueducts. I wallow in a humid substance. EEG again. We were wearing rat costumes. It was Christmas. The road was a long stretch somewhere upstate. At first I heard you moaning. I was wiping the blood away with a toilet roll. Water dripped from the latrine. Nobody wanted to work with me. Eventually the driver came back. I left messages on the answering machine. I wanted to see NYC again, and then sleep. Rest in the robust mound of living. My jeans on the worktable. President Ricky pushes through a glass door. He buys me lingerie. He causes people to be aggressive. President Ricky develops psychosis. He places me in the backroom. He puts his arm around me. He pumps me full of monoxide, carbon dioxide. Symptoms persist for days. I watch him drop onto the bed. I thrust a rag into his mouth. A nauseous gateway for a larger sickness. Watercolors sprayed upon her cotton dress. Giant men wander through the dark evening. Lasers that are run on motor oil. Fashion models on television donating clothes to hurricane victims. The conception of Khloe Kardashian. Security guards protecting the member’s area. Men’s shoes used as weapons in BDSM attacks. DNA taken from cigarette packets found in rubbish bins. President Ricky finds himself broke, walking in clear cold windless afternoons. He photoshoots all his false tasks and smokes some weed. He researches, with scientific intensity, the dull awe of secrecy and the hot impression of Hepatitis C. The seawater reflects the sky. Dead inhabitants, germs produced to grow into judges, sandy lungs, leather aprons. President Ricky doesn’t have anyone he trusts. He mumbles. I ignore him. I’m tired of looking at him. I look at the ground. I place the key in the lock. I put a cold blanket on top of him. I shouldn’t speculate about his diagnosis. I turn the television off. I should ensure that someone stays with him. I should lock down the bedroom. The door closes. It is locked. I am forgetful. Plumes of soot on the bed-spread. President Ricky has alabaster skin. He has hazel eyes. He breaks down. President Ricky stinks of Budweiser, Kools and tear-stained eyeliner. I can’t comprehend his unclean attitude. President Ricky removes the bandages from his chest. The assault of corrective surgery. Implants made from plastic bags. You possess my firm mouth with red lips and warm laughter. The unseen menace in a dogged drug-market. Yellow eyes, worm-eaten eyes, a mouth full of tobacco juice and toothless gums. Girl with an animal growl who works as a spotter in Midtown Manhattan. The muscles of a middle-weight boxer emaciated by myasthenia gravis. Your yellow hair whipped with a silk hand-kerchief. Men without external sex organs. A sliced penis and scrotum in a coffee cup full of endocrine. Southern mansions repurposed into abortion clinics. Human hands in dark hallways. Worker plunges down elevator shaft in Brooklyn building. We meet in the lobby of the Gramercy Park Hotel. You primarily cope by shutting down your emotions. Manhattan. Empty stores. The familiar shuffles of subway platforms. Slow memories in my empty mind. My duffel bag full of Dendracin lotion. Plastic baskets of iodine. You decided to catch a train to Washington. It is two hours after your departure. You feel the earth around you. This ground isn’t soft. Your coarse voice rises, and then falls in a ceaseless wave, it recognizes my bad mood. You become silent. You didn’t go to Washington. The movie camera has an underwater case. I cut a length of copper wire. You whisper in the darkness. You enter the inner room. The air is heavy. I dig into your skin. You bang your fist on the wall. You’ve had a haircut. You shut the door. You have bought a bottle of every kind of perfume. You purchase some long-distance electronics. I order double rum. A large squirrel in Central Park. Furry, its eyes are watching us, it has an inscrutable expression. You put your feet on my stomach. Your shout dies in a gurgle. President Ricky bathes in wine barrels in the basement of his apartment block. The hot impression of the light switch. President Ricky has small red eyes. He assembles precious stones that have greenish coils around them. President Ricky cuts his blunt nose. His hairpiece has grotesque wings. His eye sockets have reddish-brown fins. He sprints around the car park with amazing speed. His imminent crash goes unhindered and he floats backward over asphalt and red grass. Luminous vegetation covers President Ricky’s reflective lenses. Happy smiles beneath the hairpiece. Nervous faces full of phosphorescence. Assassination notes written at frantic speeds. Warm vapors inside a large sinkhole. The complete perversion of North America. Woman grabs a newspaper. Plasma pours into subway grating. Train slowly pulls out from platform. Woman raises a large suitcase. Dark figures, who whistle badly, prowl the corridors of the police department. Perfume bottles inside cosmetic jars. Blank paper burns in an inhospitable atmosphere. Photographer outside the window pane. Camphor beneath your nose. A bulky newspaper being read by the bartender. The elevator boy makes enormous shadows.
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