ALL-NIGHT VISITORS by Clarence Major


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A new, unexpurgated edition of the 1969 Olympia Press novel that made Major (Dirty Bird Blues, 1996, etc.) a big name in Maurice Girodias's dirty-book pantheon. A classic autodidact, Major was one of those very bright young men of the 1950s who had read their way through Rimbaud long before they'd discovered Shakespeare or heard of Homer;, this defiant opus, judging from its style, seems like the work of someone whose idea of the novel begins with Henry Miller and ends with Jean Genet. The book describes the experiences of Eli Bolton, a black Vietnam vet badly traumatized by the war and utterly disdainful of the white society he has returned to in America. A great part of the story takes shape as a succession of Bolton's rants, mostly concerned with his various conquests: the voracious Anita, the idealistic Cathy, the intellectual Eunice. Long descriptions of what Bolton does with Anita and Cathy and Eunice ensue, along with interpolated recollections of Vietnam and life on the streets in Chicago and New York--all written in the kind of interior patois that even Allen Ginsberg got tired of eventually (""Yeah, all kinds of battlefatigue monkeys strolling around here, bad shots hitting psychological maggie drawers all day long; I just get tired tired I keep a big funky headache all the time; lately I ain't said nothing to nobody but Dossy O, that's Cocaine which is the way my man keeps himself together""). Major offers reflections on race, politics, and society, but these are ultimately as pointless as the basic narrative--and yet less interesting. As fresh and exciting as an old Red Foxx routine, this is a good period piece for '60s junkies who don't take themselves too seriously.

Pub Date: Dec. 4th, 1998
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Northeastern Univ.