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About Andrei Codrescu
No Time Like Now (Pitt Series, University of Pittsburgh Press, 2019)
The Collected Japanese Ghost Stories of Lafcadio Hearn, which I introduced and edited (Princeton University Press, 2019
The Art of Forgetting: New Poems (Sheep Meadow Press, 2016)
Bibliodeath: My Archives (with Life in Footnotes) (Antibookclub, 2012)
So Recently Rent a World: New and Selected Poems (Coffee House, 2012)
Whatever Gets You Through the Night: a Story of Sheherezade and The Arabian Entertainments (Princeton University Press, 2011)
The Posthuman Dada Guide: Tzara and Lenin Play Chess, (Princeton University Press, 2009)
The Poetry Lesson (Princeton University Press, 2010)
A lot books, but I advise you to read them all or to get your friends to read parts of them, and then you'll have the picture. Crazy. My work, correspondence, notebooks, art works, and sundry documents are at the LSU Hill Memorial Library, the University of Illinois/ Champaign-Urbana's Slavic Library, the New Orleans Historical Collection, the University of Iowa's collection of Twentieth-Century Avantgarde Art, and in a shed in the Ozarks. These repositories are filled with enough weirdness to keep one hundred grad students wearing out their keyboards. I'm prolific, but calm. I still have to make some movies.
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NPR commentator Andrei Codrescu has long written about the unique city he calls home. How apt that a refugee born in Transylvania found his place where vampires roam the streets and voodoo queens live around the corner; where cemeteries are the most popular picnic spots; the ghosts of poets, prostitutes, and pirates are palpable; and in the French Quarter, no one ever sleeps.
Codrescu’s essays have been called “satirical gems,” “subversive,” “funny,” “gonzo,” and “wittily poignant”—here is a writer who perfectly mirrors the wild, voluptuous character of New Orleans itself. This retrospective follows him from newcomer to near native: first seduced by the lush banana trees in his backyard and the sensual aroma of coffee at the café down the block, Codrescu soon becomes a Window Gang regular at the infamous bar Molly’s on Decatur; does a stint as King of Krewe de Vieux Carré at Mardi Gras; befriends artists, musicians, and eccentrics; and exposes the city’s underbelly of corruption, warning presciently about the lack of planning for floods in a city high on its own insouciance. Alas, as we all now know, Paradise is lost, but here Codrescu also writes about how the city’s heart still beats even after 2005’s devastating hurricane.
New Orleans, Mon Amour is a portrait of an incomparable place, from a writer who “manages to be brilliant and insightful, tough and seductive about American culture” (The New York Times Book Review).
“Finely honed portraits of a fabled city and its equally fabled inhabitants. The author, who has called the Big Easy home for two decades, shows how, like some gigantic bohemian magnet, New Orleans attracts some of the world’s most talented, self-indulgent freaks. Codrescu finds himself quite at home there. He expertly weaves pages of New Orleans history through his stories of personal discovery and debauchery. . . . Readers can’t help coming away from reading it without an abiding hope in the ability of ordinary people, under the worst circumstances, rising to whatever challenges they face.” —Publishers Weekly
This is a guide for instructing posthumans in living a Dada life. It is not advisable, nor was it ever, to lead a Dada life."—The Posthuman Dada Guide
The Posthuman Dada Guide is an impractical handbook for practical living in our posthuman world—all by way of examining the imagined 1916 chess game between Tristan Tzara, the daddy of Dada, and V. I. Lenin, the daddy of communism. This epic game at Zurich's Café de la Terrasse—a battle between radical visions of art and ideological revolution—lasted for a century and may still be going on, although communism appears dead and Dada stronger than ever. As the poet faces the future mass murderer over the chessboard, neither realizes that they are playing for the world. Taking the match as metaphor for two poles of twentieth- and twenty-first-century thought, politics, and life, Andrei Codrescu has created his own brilliantly Dadaesque guide to Dada—and to what it can teach us about surviving our ultraconnected present and future. Here dadaists Duchamp, Ball, and von Freytag-Loringhoven and communists Trotsky, Radek, and Zinoviev appear live in company with later incarnations, including William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Gilles Deleuze, and Newt Gingrich. The Posthuman Dada Guide is arranged alphabetically for quick reference and (some) nostalgia for order, with entries such as "eros (women)," "internet(s)," and "war." Throughout, it is written in the belief "that posthumans lining the road to the future (which looks as if it exists, after all, even though Dada is against it) need the solace offered by the primal raw energy of Dada and its inhuman sources.
Turmoil reigns in post-Soviet Hungary when journalist Drake Bathory-Kereshtur returns from America to grapple with his family history. He’s haunted by the legacy of his ancestor, the notorious sixteenth-century Countess Elizabeth Bathory, who is said to have murdered more than 650 young virgins and bathed in their blood to preserve her youth. Interweaving past and present, The Blood Countess tells the stories of Elizabeth’s debauched and murderous reign and Drake’s fascination with the eternal clashes of faith and power, violence and beauty. Codrescu traces the captivating origins of the countess’s obsessions in tandem with the emerging political fervor of the reporter, building the narratives into an unforgettable, bloody crescendo.
Taut and intense, The Blood Countess is a riveting novel that deftly straddles the genres of historical fiction, thriller, horror, and family drama.
A collection of twenty-eight brilliant and strange stories, inspired by Japanese folk tales and written by renowned Western expatriate Lafcadio Hearn
Lafcadio Hearn (1850–1904) was one of the nineteenth century’s best-known writers, his name celebrated alongside those of Mark Twain and Robert Louis Stevenson. Born in Greece and raised in Ireland, Hearn was a true prodigy and world traveler. He worked as a reporter in Cincinnati, New Orleans, and the West Indies before heading to Japan in 1890 on a commission from Harper’s. There, he married a Japanese woman from a samurai family, changed his name to Koizumi Yakumo, and became a Japanese subject. An avid collector of traditional Japanese tales, legends, and myths, Hearn taught literature and wrote his own tales for both Japanese and Western audiences. Japanese Tales of Lafcadio Hearn brings together twenty-eight of Hearn’s strangest and most entertaining stories in one elegant volume.
Hearn’s tales span a variety of genres. Many are fantastical ghost stories, such as “The Corpse-Rider,” in which a man foils the attempts of his former wife’s ghost to haunt him. Some are love stories in which the beloved is not what she appears to be: in “The Story of Aoyagi,” a young samurai narrowly escapes the wrath of his lord for marrying without permission, only to discover that his wife is the spirit of a willow tree. Throughout this collection, Hearn’s reverence for Japan shines through, and his stories provide insights into the country’s artistic and cultural heritage.
With an introduction by Andrei Codrescu discussing Hearn’s life and work, as well as a foreword by Jack Zipes, Japanese Tales of Lafcadio Hearn provides a unique window into one writer’s multicultural literary journey.
When the Devil shows up in Wakefield’s living room to announce that his time is up, the bookish “de-motivational” speaker tries to strike a deal. The Devil agrees to prolong Wakefield’s life—for now—on the condition that within the next year he finds a more authentic existence. For Wakefield, who is estranged from his family, nearly friendless, and excellent at his job of lowering expectations in a positivity-crazed world, living “authentically” is a tall order. But he will try: an extra 12 months might be worth it.
Wakefield’s bargain sets in motion a cross-country quest to find his life’s purpose. Along the way, he encounters an array of all-American weirdness from plastic surgeons and sadomasochistic strippers to phony New Age yoga gurus and billion-dollar tech start-ups. Codrescu’s astute observations and quick wit illuminate the comedy found in our national culture of narcissism and self-improvement.
The Devil is alive and well and living in America, Andrei Codrescu tells us, and with good reason. Nowhere else in the world--not even in Codrescu's native Transylvania--is he taken quite as seriously. When Codrescu gently derided the fundamentalist Christian belief in Rapture ("a pre-apocalyptic event during which all true believers would be suctioned off to heaven in a single woosh") in one of his commentaries on National Public, NPR received forty thousand letters in a protest spearheaded by Ralph Reed of the Christian Coalition. Codrescu was warned to "stay away from eschatology."
Thankfully for us, he hasn't. In The Devil Never Sleeps, one of America's shrewdest social critics sets out to uncover the Devil's most modern and insidiously banal incarnations. Once easily recognizable by his horns, tail, and propensity for plague, today's Devil has become embedded in every fiber of our culture. Discussing everything from rock 'n' roll to William Burroughs to New Orleans bars to the Demon of Prosperity, Codrescu mockingly unmasks Old Nick as the opportunistic technocrat he really is. Embracing cell phones, cable access, and cyberspace, the ubiquitous Devil of secular culture embodies the true evil facing us today--banality.
In a world teeming with distractions, we are still more than capable of being bored to death. Tormented as much by insomnia and its ravages as the Devil (perhaps they are one and the same), we've become as twenty-four-hour society, swinging desperately between tedium and terror and sleeping fitfully, if at all. As Codrescu points out, the Devil never sleeps because we just won't let him.
With his characteristic charm and playful exuberance, Andrei Codrescu has successfully teased the Devil out from the darkest recesses and comic excesses of the human experience. The Devil Never Sleeps is his most wonderfully perverse book yet.
In New Orleans, private investigator Felicity LeJeune has made it her mission to bring down the corrupt televangelist Reverend Mullin, leader of the United Ministries, who filched two million dollars in lottery winnings from Felicity’s unassuming grandmother. Meanwhile, Mullin’s flock of religious fundamentalists bombards the media with threats of catastrophic horror if people refuse to accept him as their savior.
Across the globe, the mysterious Sarajevan orphan Andrea Isbik escapes a Serbian POW camp and finds asylum in Jerusalem, where she seduces cavalcades of religious scholars before finally landing in the Big Easy herself. There, amid the reverie of Mardi Gras, something dark is building. Surrounded by a wild cast of characters, Andrea and Felicity join forces to combat the impending apocalypse, fending off millennial fervor and Mullin’s fanatical followers as the world’s religions converge on New Orleans for the end of days.
This riveting novel links our most ancient imaginings of Armageddon with our contemporary worship of technology.
In Count Waldstein’s far-flung Bohemian castle, an aging Casanova spends his days as a librarian cataloging the count’s extensive collection of books. Or at least that’s what he’s supposed to be doing. Ever the storyteller, Casanova instead dedicates himself to his own writing, for which the young servant Laura Brock serves as an endlessly fascinated audience. He recounts to her his greatest escapades—from romances in a Venetian convent to the seduction of an entire harem to the triumphant amassing (and subsequent loss) of a fortune in Paris. Enlivened by the French Revolution and the liberating ideas of the Enlightenment, Casanova’s latest exploits prove he still possesses an intellectual vigor and insatiable curiosity. Even old age can’t keep this legendary libertine—who corresponded with Voltaire, discussed flight with Benjamin Franklin, and whose life and writings inspired artists as diverse as Mozart, Flaubert, Stendhal, and Hesse—from causing trouble.
Rich with eighteenth-century European social, political, and religious history, Casanova in Bohemia is an energetic and erotic portrait of Western literature’s most beloved lothario, whose hedonism was matched by his creativity and wit.
For NPR commentator Andrei Codrescu, reporting from Cuba on the eve of Pope John Paul II’s 1998 visit was an opportunity to understand the realities of life in a country that has long been the subject of stereotypes and misconceptions. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Cuba was the last place to witness a “laboratory of pre-post-communism,” as it toed the line between its socialist past and its uncertain future.
On the streets of Havana and the beaches of Santiago de Cuba, Codrescu met people from all walks of life—from prostitutes and fortunetellers to bureaucrats and writers—eager to share their stories. Uncensored and compassionate, his interviews reveal a world where destruction and beauty, poverty and pride exist side by side. Traveling with photographer David Graham, whose powerful images illustrate the energy pulsing through everyday life in Cuba, Codrescu captures the humanity of a nation that is lost when it’s reduced to a political symbol. With the United States resuming relations with Cuba for the first time in decades, Ay, Cuba! is more relevant now than ever before.
"I fear each passing night that I will not receive my maintenance dose of suspense, and then I will cease to exist."--Whatever Gets You through the Night
Whatever Gets You through the Night is an irreverent and deeply funny retelling of the Arabian Nights and a wildly inspired exploration of the timeless art of storytelling. Award-winning writer Andrei Codrescu reimagines how Sheherezade saved Baghdad's virgins and her own life through a heroic feat of storytelling--one that kept the Persian king Sharyar hanging in agonizing narrative and erotic suspense for 1001 nights. For Sheherezade, the end of either suspense or curiosity means death, but Codrescu keeps both alive in this entertaining tale of how she learned to hold a king in thrall, setting with her endless invention an unsurpassable example for all storytellers across the ages. Liberated and mischievous, Codrescu's Sheherezade is as charming as she is shrewd--and so is the story Codrescu tells.
"Intro to Poetry Writing is always like this: a long labor, a breech birth, or, obversely, mining in the dark. You take healthy young Americans used to sunshine (aided sometimes by Xanax and Adderall), you blindfold them and lead them by the hand into a labyrinth made from bones. Then you tell them their assignment: 'Find the Grail. You have a New York minute to get it.'"--The Poetry Lesson
The Poetry Lesson is a hilarious account of the first day of a creative writing course taught by a "typical fin-de-siècle salaried beatnik"--one with an antic imagination, an outsized personality and libido, and an endless store of entertaining literary anecdotes, reliable or otherwise. Neither a novel nor a memoir but mimicking aspects of each, The Poetry Lesson is pure Andrei Codrescu: irreverent, unconventional, brilliant, and always funny. Codrescu takes readers into the strange classroom and even stranger mind of a poet and English professor on the eve of retirement as he begins to teach his final semester of Intro to Poetry Writing. As he introduces his students to THE TOOLS OF POETRY (a list that includes a goatskin dream notebook, hypnosis, and cable TV) and THE TEN MUSES OF POETRY (mishearing, misunderstanding, mistranslating . . . ), and assigns each of them a tutelary "Ghost-Companion" poet, the teacher recalls wild tales from his coming of age as a poet in the 1960s and 1970s, even as he speculates about the lives and poetic and sexual potential of his twenty-first-century students. From arguing that Allen Ginsberg wasn't actually gay to telling about the time William Burroughs's funeral procession stopped at McDonald's, The Poetry Lesson is a thoroughly entertaining portrait of an inimitable poet, teacher, and storyteller.