Fiction Collective Two is an author-run, not-for-profit publisher of artistically adventurous, non-traditional fiction.

David Porush


Rope Dances
by David Porush

Hardcover
1979
Price: $17.95

Paperback
1979
Price: $10.95

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About the author:


David Porush was born in Brooklyn in October, 1952. In 1973 he was awarded the Boit Manuscript Prize for his novella, Cinema, and a Boit Short Story Prize for "Imperial Place," which is included in his first collection of short fictions, Rope Dances. He has been the recipient of an M.I.T. Summer Writing Grant. He received his B.Sc. from M.I.T. in 1973 and his Ph.D. in English from the University of Buffalo in 1977. In Buffalo he was co-director and founder of The Buffalo Writers Project, a group which sponsored readings and workshops in fiction and poetry. He presently teaches creative writing and American literature at the College of William and Mary.


About Rope Dances:


A husband and wife awaken after murdering each other to discover that they are floating in space, tethered to each other by a rope. The rope, "a gross, insensitive affair," has become their only means of communication, since they have been transformed into "grey, burnt-out lumps of flesh." They tell stories to each other, to try to seduce each other, and drive each other mad by tugging on the rope in a system of signs which they have learned after eons in their hell. This metaphor for the insufficiency and wonder of human discourse gives the title to this collection of short fictions, Rope Dances.


All these fictions are about failure, misapprehension, defeat, loss, guilt and breakdown, told with a delightful irony and sense of humor. In one, the myth of King Kong is dismembered by an author who finds his subject too large for his talent. In another, a fat man hears the jealous hallucinations of his friend in disbelief, only to discover that his friend has told the truth with a vengeance. An ambassador to "Imperial Place" finds a country on the verge of collapse, overrun by wild children. "The Misogynist" is an author, tired of his wife, who writes a strange story about a machismo-talking cock and its meek owner, a story which begins a strange itching in his on crotch, the occasion for another Rope Dance. These and other strangenesses may be found in this rare and rarefied collection, rendered in a powerful and careful prose.


 

Excerpt


Tugging at each other across space along a far from ideal thread, a coarse rope actually. The two gazers are suspended in space and the rope is suspended by them. The suspension of all laws and of all forces real or imaginary: no gravity, etc., therefore, no walls, no birds outside the country home, no woodlined paths, no coffee table at all, no outside and inside, no points of reference, nothing to refer to, no desire to refer, no interlocking gazes, no summer smells, no postal system, no landscape, no words and all they could imply: queens of hearts, electron spin spectroscopy, kinship systems of the Maori … paper clips … collisions in the night … Anglo-Catholicism … the Mycenaean victory of Partahullis sometime in the twelfth century B.C. … the Bronx … intermediary bozons, no meanings, no pen moving along a sheet of lined or lying paper, no author, no story being read to materialize among the synapses of the visual cortex. Consider the sense of tension between the two bodies hanging, floating, or perhaps, absolutely still in space. It is the tension of a finite but definite animosity, an opposition, an antagonism; an irreconcilable, irrevocable ill-will given expression.