9780743474009

Asphalt : A Novel

by
  • ISBN13:

    9780743474009

  • ISBN10:

    0743474007

  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2004-05-18
  • Publisher: Atria

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Supplemental Materials

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Summary

Already a celebrated performance artist, vocalist, poet, playwright, and visionary, Carl Hancock Rux now presents a brilliant debut novel--a profound and lyrical portrait of urban life that will take its place among the classics of American literature.

Author Biography

Carl Hancock Rux is an award-winning writer, poet, playwright, and performance and recording artist. He is the author of the Village Voice Literary Prize-winning collection of poetry and prose Pagan Operetta, and the Obie award-winning play Talk. His fiction, poetry, essays, articles, and plays have been widely anthologized in the U.S. and abroad. Mr. Rux is also a New York City Foster Care alumnus and now lives in Brooklyn.

Table of Contents

Ibid 1(6)
The Alibi 7(112)
In the Twilight of Alchemy 119(76)
Hippolytus at Versailles 195(44)
Cartography of Invention 239(12)
Ibid 251

Excerpts

Chapter One: Ibid Nothing remarkable here, no splendid courts, no spacious stairways...there is only rubble...traces of the Dorian burning, and the open graves...the menace is all the greater because it is never completely expressed. We are haunted by a presence which never completely reveals itself... -- Robert Payne, The Splendor of Greece He was coming from, I was walking toward. I was walking toward something, having arrived at nothing. He was crossing the avenue, my brother -- the remains of a boy crossing pernicious pavement channels. An easy task -- straight and steady steps of celerity -- aiming himself somewhere with an equestrian swagger that defied the shame of his body; hair matted, face distorted -- head cracked open dry, clothes drenched in water, a dark countenance masking a fragile frame.I'd flown through a turbulent sky -- landed safely on even ground, a dazed survivor. Pushing back pavement with sturdy strides, people passing me, I wanted to continue roving and tending to the business of cohabitation with myself. Pockets filled with intentions -- tried to reacquaint myself with myself. Tried not to provoke the quake of dreams or trigger the eruption of things that have been sewn tightly into the lining of my stomach...an almanac of wars and cracked concrete shifting. But a litany began in the words rolled up in my fists -- gray pages printed in tones of black crunched between fingers, its calamities emblazoned onto my thumbs. The catastrophe of years resounded in sweat and ink: new skyscraper's lattice topples down, crushes skull of passerby; gash runs up neck of side street, civilizations buried beneath the rubble; cavernous pit swallows pedestrian caught in geyser; vestigial shrapnel rediscovered; wrecking ball crashes through centennial hotel; fiscal promises; mended flags.The city was falling in the year of its reconstruction. The year of city renewal and city planning; of renaming streets and changing demographics, renovating buildings and erecting irrelevant statues, of sweeping fetid bodies beneath the gratings. Old graves were deconsecrated and cemented over with neon animation. New graves were dug for those who could not survive the metamorphosis of terrified urbanity. New buildings had been propped up, bronze and cast-iron plaques tacked onto their edifices, an eternal reminder of the dead in their absence -- but the dead were not absent -- the dead were everywhere monuments had been erected to mark their demise.In the aftermath of war, dead men and dead women and dead children awakened to an attempted restoration. They walked among us, and where they walked they walked freely, through the tumbling of urbanity, through newly erected structures that had not been there before; they made pathways where pathways used to be, forged turns down avenues and up concourses, lost their step in search of familiar landmarks. The dead put their ears close to the ground, their hands to the walls, consulted with tenements, asked old buildings to tell them a story, old sidewalks to give testimony, to recall for them where they had once been shielded from the sun by the tall lean-back of an art-deco building's northern wall -- there, where the gate of merchants and buyers made music with the click of a heel and the stomp of a sole. The endless noise of limp arches lured to storefront windows. Hand-cut stones glinting behind glass on heavy velvet. They looked for their belongings in the aggregation of paper cups and napkins littering curbs, cigarette butts, a single gold earring waiting for its match, the sparkling silver of small change displaced among fast-food leftovers...all of it -- now swept up from sidewalks, washed clean. The dead asked too that the streets recall for them the jeeps and the towing of artillery down sunken lanes; infantry and tanks and sleep deprivation; city dwellers ensconced in tight holes cro

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