Lift Your Right Arm Paperback – 8 Mar 2013
|New from||Used from|
- Choose from over 13,000 locations across the UK
- Prime members get unlimited deliveries at no additional cost
- Find your preferred location and add it to your address book
- Dispatch to this address when you check out
Customers also shopped for
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
From the Inside Flap
Packed into Lift Your Right Arm are conundrums, Abbott-and-Costello dialogues, nonsense narratives and other playfulsometimes hilarious, sometimes subversiveassaults on logic. To Gödel, Escher, and Bach we might consider adding Peter Cherches. - Billy Collins Peter Cherches is one of the stingiest writers goingstingy with words, that is. He won't use ten words if he can get away with five, and he won't write a novel if he can convey its pith in a page. This book, then, is the equivalent of a whole shelf of books. Read slowly, it can last you for years. - Luc Sante I swear, Peter Cherches is a bloody Boy Scout, blazing trail after trial after Tenderfoot trooper Kafka in this new manual of terrifying trifles, Lift Your Right Arm. He over qualifies for the merit badge of knotting knotty knots. His hitched fictionsbent and twisted, worsted and loopyarticulate the inarticulate. They tie you up; they tie you off; they tie-dye you. These skeins of embroidered language fray, frayed and fraying till the bitter bitterest end. - Michael Martone One of the innovators of the short short story, Cherches (Condensed Book) returns with a collection whose pieces linger in the void somewhere between poetry and prose. Consisting of five sequences of loosely connected minimalist storiesfew of which go on for longer than a pagethese novellas, though distinct, keep returning to certain overarching themes: the reality of death, the difficulty of expressing subjective perspective, and the failures of language. - Publishers Weekly
About the Author
Peter Cherches is the author of two previous volumes of short prose, Condensed Book and BETWEEN A DREAM AND A CUP OF COFFEE (Red Dust, 1987). His work has appeared in the anthologies Poetry 180 and Up Is Up, But So Is Down: New York's Downtown Literary Scene, 1974-1992. His fiction and other short prose work has been featured in a wide range of magazines and journals, including Harper's, Semiotext(e), Transatlantic Review, Fiction International, North American Review, Fence and Bomb. Cherches also writes about food and music and is a two-time recipient of New York Foundation for the Arts fellowships in creative nonfiction. He is a native of Brooklyn, New York.
No customer reviews
|5 star (0%)|
|4 star (0%)|
|3 star (0%)|
|2 star (0%)|
|1 star (0%)|
Review this product
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Offbeat combination of farce, satire, screwball, eccentric humor, black humor, morbid humor, gallows humor, dry humor and deadpan humor (no pun intended). Actually, I love it. I’ve read it at least a dozen times. I’d send a serious letter of recommendation to the Nobel committee with this book enclosed but I fear those sober Swedes would take my communique as so much morbid, screwball, black humor.
With Bagatelles, the title of the next micro-tale, we are given twenty-five brief trifles, telling details part of an intense yet amusing relationship between a man and a woman. Each bagatelle is no longer than a half page and black humor remains on stage but steps aside as situational humor takes the spotlight, front and center. And it is the man who does the telling with such quirkiness and precision of language that I am obliged to quote a quartet of these bizarre bagatelles in their entirety lest I bend, crack, twist or break their delicate, warped kink:
“She was a constant. I used her to gauge reality. The world existed for me in relation to her. For instance, I used her as a standard for temperature. For the sake of convenience, I called her body temperature zero. For us to be comfortable, room temperature had to be considerably below zero. And when she had a fever it had to be even colder.”
“I said something that she obviously misinterpreted, because she reacted angrily. She was screaming in a frenzy. I couldn’t get a word in edgewise. I let her go on until she ran out of steam. When I was sure she was through, I repeated my original statement. She must have understood this time because she said, oh yes, now I understand.”
“Sniffing each other was our favorite pastime. We would produce various and sundry odors for each other’s benefit. Some of our odors were mutual, but certainly not all. She produced many odors that I could not duplicate, and vice versa. We spent many pleasant hours producing odors for each other. When we became familiar with each other’s repertoire of odors, we began to make requests. It was pure ecstasy. When we were sniffing each other nothing else mattered. We had each other, and as far as we were concerned, who cared how the world smelled.”
“We tried to put each other into words. But words weren’t enough. So we put each other into sentences. No good. Paragraphs. Unsatisfactory. Chapters. Not quite right. A book. Books. Volume upon volume upon volume. It just wouldn’t work. Nothing was enough, everything was too much.”
The next mini-tale in the Table of Contents queue is Dirty Windows, a somewhat similar quizzical spin on a man and a woman, only this time they just did meet at a bookstore where she was thumbing through Finnegans Wake and he said “Nice weather.” She took an instant liking to him since she was a meteorologist. Trio Bagatelles likewise highlights situational humor and gallows humor with a touch of epigrammatic humor and parodic humor seasoned in, a tale where three people interact in a kind of post-modern, eccentric spin-off of Jean-Paul Sartre’s No Exit. Oh, and the sexes of these three are not given – you as reader can designate as you see fit.
Alas, we come to the last tale in this collection. Julio Cortázar had his A Certain Lucas and Peter Cherches has his A Certain Clarence, twenty-one peculiar adventures of a very charming but very peculiar man. How peculiar? Here’s the first adventure – piquant, provocative, provoking, and, of course, perversely peculiar:
“Clarence decided to paint his room. It was a small room, and Clarence reasoned that he could create the illusion of more space if he were to paint his room the colors of outside. So he painted his ceiling blue like the sky, with a couple of white clouds for good measure. He painted his floor in patches of green and brown, like grass and earth. And his walls he painted no color at all.”
I liked all five sections, but my two favorites were Mr Deadman and Trio Bagatelle. They best convey Cherches' playful and dry sense of humor.
Mr Deadman brought to mind the Mexican Dia de los Muertos tradition of writing "calaveras" (literally skulls). This term refers both to the illustrations of skeletons usually in very normal, mundane, living settings as well as the poems which accompany them. The poems are playful, happy celebrations of death as a being and as an event. Contrary to popular belief, this tradition in no way indicates Mexican culture is less fearful of death and dying than anyone else in the world. Nor is it, in my opinion, a coping mechanism. I believe this art form just is. Likewise, by creating a dead character which experiences and re-experiences multiple deaths and still exists among the living, I think Cherches is first and foremost creating a character that just is. The humor and the insight come from essentially reversing the conditions of life and death in the form of Mr Deadman, His adventures mimic our own daily life, but for the slight, discomforting fact that Mr Deadman is dead.
Trio Bagatelle is paradoxically the most minimalist section while also being the most generous in its economy of words. Written as a series of dialogues between characters one, two, and three, it aims at both Abbot & Costello-esque comedy routines and subtle, revelatory insights into friendships, relationships, the absurdity of being, and the fun of it. It makes me wonder what Beckett would have done if he wrote for Vaudeville. Unlike Beckett, there's no sense of angst in these stories. If there is, it quickly gets cast aside by the literary cathartic shrug of the shoulders usually in the form of a punchline.
I would never judge a work by its cost-length ratio, but I know many people do. I'll say this: it can be read very quickly in one sitting (many, if you're slow like me) or enjoyed piece by piece over a longer period of time. It can be re-read because the multi-layered humor works well, and the stories never overstay their welcome. It does definitely ask of the reader to exercise a different sort of sensibility than that of conventional short stories (many of which are just very brief novels). I guess I must be adept at that, because it definitely works for me.