Saint Ghetto of the Loans

Gabriel Pomerand, Author , trans. from the French by Michael Kasper and Bhamati Viswanathan. Ugly Duckling $14 (120p) ISBN 978-1-933254-18-0

This gorgeous book of politically charged urban rebuses was written in Paris in 1950 by Pomerand, the associate of Isidore Isou, who lead the artistic Lettrist movement into the French headlines with its postwar provocations. Known to readers in the U.S., if at all, only through Greil Marcus's descriptions of the French edition in Lipstick Traces , the book appears here for the first time in this lovingly produced bilingual edition. It consists of toughly enigmatic texts—"This bullet-holed beauty's spoiling in the sun, godless, with a church full of atheists, alongside police headquarters in the sixth district"—matched by graphic pen-and-ink interpretations of them on facing pages, drawing on everything from mathematical symbols and Hebrew script to dice, guitars and mice. The texts can't really stand on their own, but they weren't meant to: buoyed by the obsessive yet whimsical energy of the drawings, they bring a paranoid, over-inscribed Paris to life, one what would soon explode, as Marcus has noted, into Situationism, Godard and May 1968. Reading this book rekindles the radical mid-century: exciting, unintelligible and essential. (July)

Reviewed on: 06/26/2006
Release date: 01/01/2006
Genre: Fiction
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