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Exquisite Corpse - A Journal of Letters and Life
by Andrew Wilson

(continued from Cybercorpse #8)
Author's Links
A Hyperilluminated Summation in 50 Parts

Author's Note: This summary of the first four episodes of Clever has been hyperilluminated, using a method of strictly controlled chance inspired by Oulipo, the I Ching, and the Ouiji board.

1. The cocktail party -- George, Mike, Daphne, Perdilla, Henry, and Iris introduced. Style mimics Gertrude Stein.
2. All characters belong to the haut-bourgeoisie, a class known to be lousy with artistic pretensions.
3. George established as a silkenly refined wit.
4. Mike's alcoholism and his work in progress, Drunk. Perdilla's chain of beauty salons.
5. Iris' casual but pointed contempt for Henry. Henry's sheepish lack of clever wit.
6. George's libertinage (e.g. past affairs with Perdilla and Iris, leering desire for Daphne).
7. George contemplates his mortality, ponders substance of his last words.
8. Mike and George's lunch at Ristorante Caligula. The crippled Italian waiter.
9. Mike describes his new girlfriend, June, in sensuous detail. George's mind drifts.
10. Jacko, George's dog, introduced in a poignant but disorienting flashback.
11. George orders a fabulous meal, including wine. Mike gets drunk.
12. The cruel sunlight. George's impatience with the aged and infirm waiter.
13. Artichokes and other epiphanies.
14. George remembers fucking a girl against a wall in the Colosseum. Extraordinary prose.
15. Espresso and sorbetti di limone. George expresses a sly interest in meeting June.
16. A clear summer's day. George in his seaside cottage contemplating Life and his brief career in Letters. More of the indomitable Jacko.
17. An excerpt from George's youthful book of stories, Flotsam.
18. Polly Jean Hogarty introduced as she sets out for a relaxed bicycle ride to the village.
19. Mike and June setting out, at precisely the same moment, to drive to lunch -- Mike in a euphoric state of intoxication after a morning of brutal drinking and sex.
20. Distracted by June's rosy cleavage, Mike collides with Polly Jean Hogarty, then with a pine tree.
21. Ensuing operatic scene of horror and grief.
22. Mike flees the accident, leaving two comatose women sprawled amidst smoking wreckage.
23. Mike shows up at George's cottage. George tends compassionately to his numerous but superficial injuries.
24. June and Polly Jean Hogarty are discovered by a passing motorist and rushed to St. Agatha's Hospital, where June undergoes an emergency brain operation.
25. Mike distraught, close to breaking point. George calls the hospital and finds that the women are alive. Celebration.
26. George, Mike, and Jacko enjoy a peaceful moment.
27. Mike's Drunk hits the New York Times Bestseller List. Visiting the still-comatose June in the hospital, he weeps copiously. Allusions to Mike's hard upbringing.
28. A few pages of whip-smart exposition laced with cruel jokes, examining George's life as a publisher and aspiring Man of Letters.
29. Faith Resno, an old flame of George's, introduced, with poignant flashback montages depicting their Love Affair.
30. George, somewhat reluctantly, attends Faith Resno's release party for her novel, F*cked Up Girl-Cherry in Manhattan, to find that fame has made her callow.
31. George, Mike, Henry, and Iris attend The Feast of the Blessed Sacrament in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Portuguese-born novelist and poet Fernando Joao introduced as their charming and urbane host. The Feast described in exalted but somewhat perverse detail.
32. Mike, George, and Fernando Joao sprawled around a fire on the beach. Henry and Iris copulating off-camera. Mike, gazing up at the swath of summer stars, endures a Pascalian Moment of terror at his smallness in the Universe.
33. George gives a succinct oral précis of Fernando Joao's novel, A True Story of Infamous Lechery Among Nuns of the Convent of the Sacred Wounds of the Excruciating Passion in the Aftermath of the Great Earthquake of Lisbon, 1755.
34. Mike's drunken flashback to a dentist's chair and a callous yet perky Russian hygienist. George slouched in the contemplative attitude of a Byronic hero. Fernando humming a fado -- that fatalistic Portuguese music of love, cruel disillusion and inevitable loss.
35. Fernando expounds on circumstances surrounding the auto-da-fé of the original manuscript of Sister Lizabeta's memoirs. A Groucho-Marx-style quip uttered by an old Lisbon Jew. The shrill protests of an enfant horrible French journalist.
36. Fernando's childhood Sunday trolley-car trips to the beach with his beloved Uncle Gubbão. Nietzsche's black umbrella. Juvenile verses stuck in lemonade bottles and set adrift.
37. Nietzsche's madhouse years. Uncle Gubbão's fiercely overprotected riding machine.
38. Fernando describes his novel-in-progress and its basis in truth -- e.g. the existence of a secret society, called Acéphale 2, dedicated to throwing young virgins into volcanoes. George turns Devil's advocate.
39. A tasteless reference to some imagined incident of buggery involving Uncle Gubbão and Oscar Wilde.
38. George evacuating his strained bladder into the Atlantic. He picks up a drifting object, which proves to be an old fashioned lemonade bottle entangled in strands of kelp. It holds a slip of folded paper. After a prolonged inner struggle, he hurls it far back out to sea.
39. Lizabeta and her stark life at the Convent of the Sacred Wounds of the Excruciating Passion, circa mid-18th century. Hellfire and demons. The iron-black thorn from Christ's crown. Lizabeta's auto-erotic awakening.
40. Uncle Gubbão and Freud in Vienna. Talking cure in progress. Freud's scratchy beard.
41. Uncle Gubbão, James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, and Lucia Joyce in an awkward moment at the Café Dome, in Paris circa 1921.
42. Henry's privileged upbringing, balding head, polished manner, gracious life. He can juggle oranges. Writes with a Waterman pen.
43. Iris and Henry on a beach in Sicily. Iris's lush sexiness makes her a magnet for clowning ragazzi.
44. Henry's all-consuming passion for the pale yet dusky Aitoh Omei, a Japanese schoolgirl on a tour of Sicily with her stick-thin parents.
45. A stone city in the clouds. Henry plays Detective Humbert, tailing Aitoh Omei through dim, echoing streets on a hazily-defined mission of lust.
46. Henry circa 1975, in Malaga, Spain. Henry's whirlwind business transaction with a chesnut-haired prostitute, poignantly rendered in clean prose.
47. The sleek blue Sicilian tour bus shudders up Mt. Etna, through icy layers of wafting gray clouds. Iris dismisses Mike's Drunk.
48. Iris and Henry enjoy drinks on the stone terrace of a tourist hotel. They are stunned from their complacency by a violent earthquake.
49. Henry learns from Italian radio reports that Aitoh Omei, like Empedocles, has fallen into one of the steaming black craters of Mt. Etna.
50. Flashback to an enigmatic, painfully beautiful moment shared by Henry and Aitoh Omei in a pine grove near the ruined Greek temple at Segesta.

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