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

The Mind Crime of August Saint

The Mind Crime of August Saint
The Mind Crime of August Saint
by Alain Arias-Misson

1993. 420 pp.
ISBN 978-0-932511-79-9


Determined to solve a dual crime-on the one hand an abstract Millennial Conspiracy perpetrated against the conventional "logocentric" mind, on the other a gruesome murder-litterateur-detective August Saint embarks on a most peculiar investigation. Saint wanders through a distinctly familiar European landscape, but simultaneously, inexplicably, finds himself traversing parallel media-spawned realties.

He discovers that movies, comic strips, news articles, biographies, and fiction have each captured a channel on some formerly unimaginable, universal, television-like network. There characters and incidents, while indulging in spatiotemporal experimentation and dodging astrogel intervention from outer space, evolve infinitely and cross media with impunity. In this reconfigured universe Saint mingles with celebrities from movies, television, and literature; courts a beautiful Cuban maiden; and witnesses the twentieth century's most magnificent and horrific events. His discovery, after these endless and exhausting adventures? The conspirators in the crime are legion. They include a Belgian comic book hero, an agile "bi-locating" friar, an aristocratic Proustian masochist, a sinister clerical familiar, an NYPD Chief of Detectives, a distinguished Italian film director, the Baader-Meinhof gang, assorted literary luminaries, and possible even Dr. Spock. At last, the criminal is captured and brought to trial, and his features Saint recognizes a very familiar face.

In The Mind Crime of August Saint, Alain Arias-Mission mines the epistemological fault line where the old world of the written word lies uneasily against twentieth-first-century electronic media culture. His latest novel is a fascinating fictive experience of a culture in the process of transformation.

"The cumulative effect of this original novel, in which the improbable is put to a tantalizing test, will hit the reader with the force of a supernova. At stake is nothing less than the imagination of both the writer and the reader. The Mind Crime of August Saint is a singular achievement."—Walter Abish, author of Eclipse Fever


Mutt and Jeff A little apart from the group and off to one side was Mutt the Priest. From the moment August Saint had first seen him, he knew he would meet him again, in here. That last decisive year in Brussels he had been "haunted" by the priest as if the latter were dogging in his footsteps. He had immediately recognized that the priest was an intimate, a "familiar." August had nicknamed him that from the start because the priest had all the misery of a beaten, nondescript dog-and because he seemed to play a grotesque Mutt to his own Jeff, a comic strip duo. In appearance bibulous, red-nosed, errant, face creased and squeezed together like a cauliflower, seedy in the now uncustomary black cassock, he shuffled along the streets of Brussels with painfully slow little steps, arms pressed motionless against his sides, head bentslightly as in humility, looking neither to left nor to right, gaze fixed a few feet ahead to the pavement. He moved through the crowd as though crushed by their surrounding pressure, himself pressing inward so as to occupy less room. Once, August followed the meager figure downtown: he stopped in front of a precision clock posted outside a shop-and for all of ten minutes he stood setting his watch to the second. When a man nearby glanced curiously at him, Mutt looked back very briefly out of the corner of his eye, a sly, shamed look. August tried to photograph him, and by some extraordinary luck (familiars don't photograph to well_ obtained a snapshot of his back. The priestly gown appears monumental, falling from the scrawny neck and shoulders in a cataract. And here he was again, half-expected, the episode of a guilty religious conscience, a conscience of ruins, labyrinthine. Mutt, of course, did not raise his eyes in the direction of the group of priests. He remained near the edge of the picture, part clownish, part sinister. August observed him with great interest as he shuffled off to the edge, and hurried to his feet and started after him. He knew from experience what valuable evidence might be obtained from such marginal figures. He was too late; the priest had already disappeared. The slight brittle frame, the hunched-in shoulders, had seemed to beg, if not for compassion, at least to be tolerated. August, who did not think of himself as pitiless, indeed was inclined to be sentimental, nevertheless regarded old Mutt with suspicion tinged with disgust, fascinated by him yet half-fearing to meet the cringing, fathomless glance. Why did he feel that the priest might somehow compromise him? He hesitated when he came to the edge, as to which route to take after the now vanished cleric.