Christmas Book Review & Interview by Roy Berger: Castle Faggot by Derek McCormack.

Christmas Book Review & Interview by Roy Berger:  Castle Faggot by Derek McCormack.

DECEMBER 23, 2020 – Castle Faggot is a comedic straightforward novella of 85 pages by Derek McCormack with a bonus ten-page afterword by Zac Farley and Dennis Cooper. That last part exists as defense and praise for what I gather is a departure from DM’s normal writing. I admit to being innocent of reading Mr. McCormack’s prior works.

  Castle Faggot is a post-humus book, written during the pangs of death with a release date of November 2020, a significant year for anus horribilis. 

  When discussing the post-humus work of a living author it’s sometimes essential to know its context. This context is purgatory at best, Castle Faggot was DM’s life/death twilight zone in puppet valley. The book has a rhythmic, poetic ebb and flow, consistent with the most powerful pain killers. Writers write what they know, and DM knows his literary shit. That he was dying of cancer, aggravated by having no bowel control had to be part of the overwhelming driving force to write about these puppets, puppets that were acting against the internal theatre screen of his anxious gnawed on skull.

  “Count Choc-o-log sings…I’m in stop motion like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

  “Someday I’ll slay that red-nosed clown and Santa too, and flush them down the sewers. My show will air at Halloween and Christmastime and I’ll be seen by millions of viewers!” Page 40

  This book may also appeal to your inner anger; it’s a curious anger though because it comes bereft of hate. It is an attack on modern civilization using defecated demented puppets. The book is an assault without immunity.

  “Bat’s! Rats! It’s Count Choc-o-log’s castle; it’s crawling with his creatures. The bats are faggot bats; the rats are faggot rats. They feed on flies and dead faggots that fill the place, it’s a feast.

  “All these dead faggots! All these dead fucking faggots! They’re crammed into every corner of the castle. There are dead faggots in the tower. They’re caked in their own blood. There are dead faggots in the library. They’re caked in their own shit. The ballroom? There’s a faggot hanging from the chandelier.

  “The faggot’s more chandelier than faggot!” Page 18

  Faggots are everywhere in Faggot Castle. There are suicidal faggots, dead faggots, hanging faggots, bat infested faggots, puppet faggots, faggot dolls and Faggatronics animation. Faggatronics is closely modeled after the 1960’s puppet show, The Thunderbirds.

  This is a very authentic freak story that compliments the darkness of Lovecraft or Poe. It’s delightfully original. Castle Faggot is very much a part of the ‘theatre of cruelty’, that part of post-modernity relying on throw-back crass commercialism and its love affair with sugar. Puppets engage with each other, the offerings of the castle and the streets of Paris.

  The photographic blanks provided for the reader’s imagination were bravely arranged on several pages, but my existential vision couldn’t fill in the space.

  Popular toy manufactures must be lined up to bid for the product licensing of the Castle Faggot dollhouse, diorama, crypts, and bodies hanging by a noose. Now is, after all, the ideal, politically correct climate to begin production of the Castle Faggot line of toys, puppets and dolls; all available for fifty box tops and a money order.

“The Dollhouse

The Castle Faggot Dollhouse comes with:

–         A dead faggot

–         Bats and cobwebs

–         Skeleton and skulls

–         Shit

The dead faggot’s a plastic figurine.” Page 28

    His scatologic terms are not profanity or to shock. They become near value free words, sometimes functioning as metaphors and sometimes just as reality. The character’s thoughts and their macabre siliques of fermented horror, shopping at cosmetic counters and lusting for cereal box-top coupons is slippery insane and gone, really gone.

 DM’s rich lucidity takes the reader through literary transitional changes like a veil which the reader doesn’t realize is a mask, until they are well swept into it.  It’s a novel, it’s a stage play, it could easily be a musical; Bob Fosse meets Tim Curry. A dress is murdered in the dark of night.

  Count Choc-o-log, Boo-Brownie, Franken-Fudge, Count Froufrou and Walt Doody interweave their twisted thoughts as thinly disguised characters combined with French philosophers that invade all decorum and decency and more dolls; Marcel Pooroust, Jean Profitelorrain, Charles Baudeclair, Stephane Marshmallarme all make an appearance.

  “The ballroom’s a scene from some vampire Versailles. Count Choc-o-log’s dancing with a dead faggot. Boo-Brownie and Franken-Fudge are disco-dancing.” together. Count Froufrou’s dancing with Wolf-Wafer, a cartoon no one cares about. Wolf-Wafer is a faggot. Boo-Brownie’s a faggot. Franken-Fudge’s a faggot.

  All faggots are cartoons.” Page 22

  William Burroughs would be laughing between shots reading this howl of a book. And it has fags in it. Castle Faggot, get it.

Interview Questions

  RB “You mentioned in your interview in Quiet Place Episode #106 (You Tube) that you once read poetry in William Burrough’s bunker, how did that come about?”

  DM “ I read as part of the I Love John Giorno celebration in NY a couple of years ago. The celebration consumed the whole city and lasted for months — I was a teeny-tiny part of it. Artists Space arranged for me to read — along with Michael Stipe, Julia Heyward and Adjua Gargi Nzinga Greaves — in The Bunker, the Bowery building that William Burroughs used to live in, and that Giorno took over. There was no audience, just a camera crew and some curators. And Giorno. I sat in Burroughs’s old bedroom, which was pretty much untouched since he’d last been there in the 1990s. His books beside the bed. His coat on a chair. While I was reading, the phone rang — Giorno said it hadn’t happened in decades! I don’t know if that was true or not — but it was a good story so I like to retell it.”

  RB “I got the impression from your Quiet Place interview that Castle Faggot was written while you were at a low point, health-wise and not in complete bodily control.”

  DM “Yes, that’s true — I started it before I got my cancer diagnosis and completed it after treatment was done. Immediately after surgery/chemo, I wrote The Well-Dressed Wound, which is really a book about blankness — I wrote a lot of it in my head and forgot as much as I remembered. Castle Faggot, or at least the last parts of it, came after that — my body was behaving better, but it’s still bullshit. I mean, I have never really recovered — the cancer’s gone, but my body’s fucked forever. And Castle Faggot’s really a book about my bowel bisection and the trouble it caused. I mean, it’s about other things, too, but shit has a starring role, as you know!”

  RB “Is it your habit to write it out long hand first or type or speak into a tape recorder? I ask because I think there are subtle and not so subtle differences among the methods and how our brain communicates to the hand.”

  DM “ I love this question. I’d say that I write by hand and by typing. I start off on the laptop, tap-tap-tapping away — and then as soon as I have something, anything, a couple of pages, a couple of passages, even, I’ll print them out and rewrite them by hand. I’ll carry pages around in my pocket for weeks and pull them out wherever I am and mark them up some more. I have never tried dictating them — I can’t stand the sound of my voice, I wouldn’t want to play back what I had dictated!”

  RB “Were you tempted to cut it up a-la-Burrough’s?”

  DM “I’m too much of a control freak to try cut-ups! I suppose that cut-ups are a way to short-circuit that need for control — maybe it’d be good for me! But to be honest, editing is my favourite part of writing — toying with sentences for months and months is what I love.

  “Castle Faggot was originally much shorter! I’d written and rewritten the Rue du Doo section — I’d almost written it off. I wasn’t working for me, or at least it wasn’t doing what I wanted it to do. Then last year — or the year before that? — I decided to add to it, there sections that played off of it — I wrote them fairly quickly, which is super-duper unusual for me — it takes me years sometimes to write a couple of thousand words.” 

  RB “Did you have a party when your book was briefly banned by Amazon?”

  DM “Amazon, what a shit-show. In a way, I was thrilled to be banned by Amazon — it means I offended somebody, and it’s so hard to offend anybody with a book anymore! People are offended by tweets all the time, and Facebook posts, but by books? It bothered me, though, that somebody could do that– could scrub a book from the biggest bookselling domain in the world. So, I had to lobby to bring it back. I’d rather have people buy my book from an indie bookseller, but I thought it was important that the Amazon option be there.

  “My friend William E. Jones and I discuss Amazon all the time. It’s evil, but so are Penguin Random House and Ingram. People can buy controversial things through Amazon and do it anonymously — and William appreciates that. There’s a hallowed gay history of getting smutty and shocking work directly from the producers, and far away from the gaze of booksellers and censors.”

  RB “How far along is Lego Ideas in the approval process to create Castle Faggot?”

  DM “I would love a Lego Castle Faggot. I don’t know that I’d have the patience to put it together, but I could enlist the help of my nephew! My nephew and I share a love of toys — he’s eight, I’m a lot older than eight. But I envy the gifts he gets beneath the Christmas tree — I’d be delighted if people bought me playsets and board games as presents!”

Castle Faggot by Derek McCormack, 2020, published by Semiotext(e), ISBN#978-1-63590-137-5, distributed by MIT Press, $21.95 Canadian. Available on Amazon… https://www.amazon.ca/Castle-Faggot-Derek-Mccormack/dp/1635901375

Roy Berger has several books also available on Amazon… https://www.amazon.ca/Rabbits-Happy-Apocalypse-Shortwave-Radio-ebook/dp/B01N7HUCV0




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