Nine-Banded News: Comfort and Critique

Nine-Banded books is very proud to announce the release of a new (and affordably priced) paperback edition of Peter Sotos' Comfort and Critique. This one was a mother of a bitch to produce, but I think it turned out beautifully, and I am indebted to those who helped make it happen. Special thanks go to Alex Kasavin, Kevin Slaughter, James Havoc, and of course to my good friend Peter Sotos, whose generosity is never forgotten.

Here's a fascinating interview with Peter from early 2006, when the original Void Books edition of Comfort and Critique was in release.  From the pages of Artforum, here's Lucy McKenzie naming Comfort and Critique one of the "Best Books of 2005." More recently, The Hoover Hog chatted with the author here. Caveat lector, I suppose.    

You can order a copy of Comfort and Critique for $12 postpaid through Nine-Banded Books. It's also available — or soon will be — through Germ Books in Philadelphia, Atomic Books in Baltimore, Quimby's in Chicago, Countermedia in Portland Oregon, and Amazon.

Peter Sotos's work coopts the cheapest, least literary forms possible — true crime reporting, pornography, the police report, hate mail, etc. — and invests them with as much power, intelligence, and subversive intent on the levels of content and style as possible without transforming or, as he might argue, blunting them into something identifiably literary and therefore overly qualified. As a result his work lacks many open champions among even the more renegade academics and intellectuals, i.e., the people whose support has traditionally legitimized contemporary writing considered too difficult and radical for the 'untrained' public. As I discovered … there are extremely few essays and reviews taking up the cause of Sotos's work as significant contemporary literature. To reflect what's out there would be to perpetuate the generally held opinion that he's one of those artists only a self-styled extremist could love for reasons having nothing to do with his possible place among artists who work with language. I don't think his work needs to be upgraded or explicated by anyone, me included, and I think its inability to present the details and factors and signals that would facilitate an argument for its value as literature is one of the reasons it's among the most important writing being done today. It is scary, intense, ugly, honest, original, problematic, profoundly challenging stuff. It's also highly intelligent, refined, and kind of a masterful example of writing at its most rendered and self-investigating, all the moreso because its art refuses to give an inch to readers who need something conventionally beautiful, however offbeat and subtle that beauty, to justify a book's assault. Because Sotos and I write about some of the same things, I have a lot of questions about the baldness and relentlessness of his methodology, but his work also raises many fundamental and painful questions for me about the effectiveness of the decisions I make in constructing my own work, maybe more and more difficult questions than are raised by any other contemporary writing. That being perhaps the ultimate gift one writer can give to another, I hereby thank Peter Sotos with this small honor.

— Dennis Cooper

Memento mori.

8 thoughts on “Nine-Banded News: Comfort and Critique

  1. I suspect that “Slaughter” and “Havoc” are not their real surnames.
    Now that I live in Chicago proper, I should visit Quimby’s sometime.

  2. Welcome to Chicago, TGGP! There’s also a new bookstore on Clark in Andersonville I’ve been meaning to check out — not Mothers and Daughters, heave; the new one is a block or two south.
    Chip: thank you for the copy. I’ll review it on my blog whenever I can make it through; I made the huge mistake of beginning ch. 1 over breakfast yesterday. It turned out to be rather a malnourished day.

  3. Do those bookstores carry your Holocaust revisionist books as well? Just wondering if Shoah skepticism is even more toxic than pedophilia.

  4. ICR,
    I understand the implication, but I don’t believe I’ve (yet) published any Holocaust revisionist books, unless you count the books by L.A. Rollins and Bradley Smith, both of which are — or have been — carried by the shops in question. The question of relative toxicity may be revisited when the Crowell compendium is released next year (with apologies for the unavoidable delay). I’m willing to bet that it will reach the same indie shelves, and I’m more hopeful that it will be read and engaged by those who are predisposed to suspect that it’s so much worthless pseudo-scholarship. Honest people may be surprised by what they discover.
    Thanks for the MR reference, which I read. I don’t really take issue with Snyder’s overarching thesis, except to the extent that he tacitly accepts the conventional historiography of the gassing business that I find dubious. The crux of his argument is relativist, in keeping with inevitable trends.
    Sorry about ruining your breakfast. Maybe I can treat you to IHOP one of these days.

  5. Can I just say, this blog is what got me through the day today. Every time I read it, I just get more and more excited about whats next. Very refreshing blog and very refreshing ideas. I’m glad that I came across this when I did. I love what you’ve got to say and the way you say it.

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