In a previous lifetime, I excerpted the only experimental novel I ever found interesting: Ratz Are Nice (PSP). Read the excerpts out loud, in any dialect you wish.
No one is going to write a Kathy Acker–manquée biography of its author, Lawrence Ytzhak Braithwaite (no relation). They’re both dead, but this may be the news to you in Braithwaite’s case. It was to me.
Self-evidently this gay black Forces vet from Quebec killed himself – the form of demise the culture demands from eldergays and anyone who does not or cannot pay his own freight. I’m not next, but somebody will be, and fuck-me pumps in size 13 will prance on our graves. We cannot die off fast enough for queers, trannies, LGBTs, and their respectable enablers in the lamestream media.
I am Shields-compliant (also Paglia‑) in that I cannot deal with novels, a Victorian form even in science-fiction camouflage. I am somehow a dozen pages into Black Deutschland, which title Braithwaite could have lived. Pace Brottman, sometimes the movie is better; it is much more interesting to listen to authors interviewed by an eldergay intellectual Jew, a triple tautology.
Ratz Are Nice is barely a novel, more of a cultural positioning statement, said culture being “co-opted” and on the verge of extinction (Doc Martens “de‑recontextualized”).
In donning the Black persona, symbolized through the silver jacket, Brian finally does what everyone has been attempting to do throughout the book. Brian is killed – his soul is killed, through that burden of the weight of the Black youth – the Black persona, that persona of deglamoured oppression. He has achieved the goal of being Black but he is unprepared to handle something that the Blacks are raised to deal with through centuries of struggle – you’d suppose.
It took decades of uptight, rule-governed severity and utter yet abject correctness to get to a point where I ate Braithwaite for breakfast. My culture is on the verge of extinction. I memorized the spatial location of his books at TRL, now the only remaining copies (if they go he does), and sat there reading them, pulled apart by booth of my wide finger tipped handz.
I ate fucked-up prose for breakfast. “Last Exit to Victoria”:
…as a child I was told that not knowing the alphabet will cause illiteracy. It’ll send you into a drugged-out gangland life of white-trash nightmares and corner-boy peddling to homosexuals, who are professional players, obsessed with age and willing to drag it and you into emptiness. That in knowing the letters, I’ll know that they assemble to construct various images that become words. Words are the narrative transformation of the images. Printing a page of unbroken words is like a fresh tattoo. It captures a moment/place, sentiment and period. It orchestrates the body in motion as it flexes to move a pen/strike at a key/form a fist/lift a drink or move to a rhythm. The words become the unspoken intertextuality of ethnic, racial and cultural metaphoric speech. The meter of casual dialogue = a rhythm/noise/visual bass, a soundtrack to a post-literate train of thought. […]
Slayer is for the fury and speed and violence that the book has. Deathmetal is the living desire of the neo-redneck burnout. It’s all going after the sport of brutality – the art of hurting someone. The walking jokes, with targets on their backs…. The only violence is the way the words appear on the page, marked by the slashes that connote rhythm of speech and interrupted thought. They are like semicolons = / the // are colons and so are the = signs. Sometimes the – move out to separate speech – someone takes lead//does a solo.
Nobody wanted someone this difficult and “intersectional” in the wrong way. Crocodile tears:
Lawrence Ytzhak Braithwaite. It’s incredibly sad news. I hadn’t heard from him in years. There was a time there when we were corresponding regularly. He had a novel, an opera, I believe he called it, and he asked me to help him find a publisher. I did what I could – it wasn’t much, but editors did see it, and loved it, but the publishing deals fell through, for reasons I don’t know. Our friendship kind of fizzled out – he wrote to me and asked if I could send him money. I had no money. I would have sent him money if I’d had it. He was a handful, but he wrote beautiful, beautiful books. Beautiful, original books. Bless him.
I got a piece of mail today… from the government of Canada. It is addressed to the Estate of Lawrence Braithwaite. It is the first I knew of his passing. Lawrence lived in my basement suite for three years (’02–’04). He was garrulous, inventive, argumentative, not a great listener, highly intelligent and a disaster as a housekeeper.
He had this big German shepherd dog named Heindrich who went everywhere with him. I had a dog too so we had plenty of opportunity to chat.
I had him up for dinner several times.
Lawrence was a very interesting character.
Can you imagine being a black anglo Quebecker saddled with the name Braithwaite, redolent as it is of token tragic-mulatto Radio-Canada TV personalities? Basically every black person in Quebec de l’époque presumptively had the name Braithwaite. I’d leave too, but not to Afghanistan, and I sure as shit wouldn’t pick Victoria, B.C., where the only other gay black male is halfway to a decathlete, handsome, winsome, smart, a dense pack of muscle with ten inches uncut and the luckiest white bf. Everybody wanted him. He’s the minimum ante you need to survive as a non-Amaechi gay army of one.
Put enough ones together and you get a real army. Not sufficient for Braithwaite – but it’s early in my process, and all I can save are the animals I don’t eat or wear, not every wayward soul you or I didn’t know we cared about till he died. Early in my process, but it’s happening.