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

Blood of Mugwump

Blood of Mugwump
by Doug Rice

Paperback (1996)


The blood of the Mugwump clan of Catholic, gender-shifting vampires has become infected by decadent words and confused memories. (Not to mention the grey and muddy bodies that have washed ashore and that the Mugwumps have eaten.) Quirky flesh and cryptic desires created by a mysterious looking-glass (that refuses to reflect reality) have driven the Mugwumps beyond the thunderdome into their own house of incest.

Now, trapped inside a kinetic body that is always changing from male to female, Doug Rice (the youngest Mugwump) sets out to discover himself in his sister's body. All the while, the familial matriarch - Grandma Mugwump (a woman who once-upon-a-time really was a man) - feeds on the flesh of young Doug. Once through the looking-glass, Doug realizes that Caddie (a polysexual Faulknerian nightmare of a sister) is more terrifying and holy than your average saint. A frenzied sexual virus, genetically conveyed, mutates and possesses the meat of Doug's and Caddie's bodies forcing them to love each other in unspeakable, yet classical, ways. Rice's parasitical language is akin to the acts of those naked 18th century pirates of desire. None of this autobiographical fragment is in Rice's original words. In Blood of Mugwump Rice cannibalizes the likes of Joyce, Faulkner, Burroughs, Eliot, and a whole host of dead angelic others.

"The most gorgeous sentence and rhythms… I'm drooling and I bet that even Faulkner, though dead, is taking notice. Most impressive, however, is Rice's entry into the gender wars. Rice redefines male (his identity?) and female (his other?) by submitting them to unremitting infinite questioning. What emerges is a poetry as analysis grounded in what must be called 'the real'." —Kathy Acker


Late in the 70s, during my college days at Slippery Rock State, Caddie had committed her most serious crimes, acting out the horror of our familial past. Struck between desires and spasms, she launched herself hard against the night. She introduced herself to people as "a handful of mud torn from the Monongahela River." Caddie's snake hair dancing at the edge of the universe. No Prince Charming in her life. Slut that has raped and been raped. She's written on walls and made love to our grandmother with fists and tongues in such mysterious ways that Grandma has never been able to go back to simply fucking men. And Grandma Mugwump all dressed up like some sort of wolf in lady's clothing. Nights on the river bank. I think it was Caddie's tongue but she is just my sister. I can make you.

Touch my cunt.

Caddie feels her flesh, my lips open to her mouth and her words begin.

Her mother, our mother, Caddie was saying, said that Caddie was nothing more than dirt that had been mixed with grey blood sucked out of drowned alcoholics who had been washed ashore during some sort of flood. A great flood, nearly killed everybody in the 'Burgh, but Mom and Dad survived, swam the waters. Grandma on the roof of her house waving for the river rat crew of rescuers. Then her mouth sweet and old. Her hand toying with the rags and bones of their bodies. Smiling at their innocence. The eating. Poor grandma had to row the boat to safety all by herself. Now Dad is dead. Mom's still swimming in that same water gulping down the blood. She has remembered herself and has returned wild and loose to lurk around in those deep black rivers, setting teenagers aflame while they neck on those old river banks. Mom has a way about her. She is a subtle sort of woman, the kind of woman who slaughters time and space by wearing a miniskirt and by standing in just the right fashion - hand, hip, tongue - under a tree weeping down in the park. The police are confused but continue investigating.