David Porush

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.

Rope Dances

… a many-stranded text, a truly high-altitude performance which spans the poles of mind and body, beauty and bestiality, man and woman …

Campbell Tatham, <cite>Chicago Review</cite>

Rope Dances

David Porush

Rope Dances, by David Porush (FC2, 1979)


ISBN 978-0-914590-50-7

Quality Paper
ISBN 978-0-914590-51-4


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.