Sunday, January 6, 2019


This is the contract for the Bulgarian version of THE CORPSE DREAM OF N. PETKOV which is to be published as a book by Ciela in Sofia in the late Spring of this year.  

After "the changes" in Bulgaria in 1990, a translation of my novel appeared in a "thick" journal, Svremenik #2, 1991.  The journal was modeled on the famous Russian journal which of course was known for publishing One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich.

There were discussions of the novel in the newspapers of the moment, but it never appeared as book for too many reasons to go into but I am pleased that finally it is to appear and I appreciate the trust that the editors and certain writers both in English and in Bulgarian who have read the novel in either both languages or only one and who have that it has not dated, that it is not a book of a moment but written inside the attempt to pass beyond the moment of its creation.  

              7-- In preparation for the Bulgarian version I found a letter from David Rattray who some might remember as poet, as the first major translator of Artaud--and still the best--- and Rene Creval in particular.  Semiotext published a wonderful collection of  David's writings put together by Chris Kraus, HOW I BECAME ONE OF THE INVISIBLE

David read my novel and sent me the following letter which also included a page of typos in the book that should be fixed in a new edition which happened when Northwestern University Press did the paperback version:

June 18, 1987
Dear Tom, The Corpse Dream of N. Petkov is a tour de force.  I was riveted as they say, although it is a tale I wouldn't want to identify with, I guess I am forced to, willy-nilly.  The 12-minute interior monologue of a man being strangled, compressed into 120 pages or less---I count the dozen-odd pages of documents  as something that  might flash past in a split second--- then the many pages of your autobiographical track, and the interviews, which further whittle it down--- less than half is straight Petkov--- so I tried to imagine all this as a speeded-up tape actually being spoken in the 12 minutes and I believe it is possible even if in a Martian Donald Duck falsetto--- provided Piko's thoughts and rejoinders run in tandem, and the author's voice and documents are flashed onto a wall--- it would fit ---a tight fit, but so is that noose or loop as you consistently call it.  Like Piko I am a raki man; it takes one to appreciate one. The ignoble is also in a state of humiliation.  Apart from this book I had never read a line about Petkov that fool who persisted in showing character. The dream of dying in one's bed with one's hand held is in the papers, on TV, in Reader's Digest. The puff of wind exploding the speck of ash into the air is the reality hitherto reserved for the few, now made available for all.  Have you heard of Bogdan Borkowski's film Le Poeme which shows a dissection in progress to a sound track consisting of an actor's voice declaiming Rimbaud's Drunken Boat in impassioned tones?   For the man being hanged to imagine a major earthquake reminds me of Kleist's  novella "The Earthquake in Chile" in which the young man has just climbed  upon a stool n his dungeon cell to hang himself on a noose he has fashioned somehow, when the first giant tremor of the great earthquake of sixteen-something causes the building to collapse and lands him unscathed in the street.  Therefore I at first misread your line "An earthquake would get him out of there."  Obviously you are referring to getting Dimitrov out of the saddle, not Petkov out of the noose.  I loved the Hyperborean or Austral icecap fantasy on p62.  Having spent half my life worrying  the lie that creeps i when we are speaking and the abyss between thought, word, and ear, I have to plead for Gosho and Petko and their liking for the sound of their own voice.  Maybe that was their direction finder  as it is in a way our direction finder when we share in meetings.  We are all as blind as bats in many ways, and I read that that is precisely how bats do find their way through the maze of pitch blackness--- the sound of their own voice bouncing off obstacles---  it is shows them where to go and where not to go.  "Fly my little bird but remember no bird makes a nest in a cloud."  I was put in mind of Gilbert White in Selkirk the speculation on whether sparrows migrate south in winter or were ravished up into the empyrean where they somehow levitated on the highest clouds.  I really loved your book.
                                             DAVID (Rattray)