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Dirtmouth, Dirtmouth, 1573661171, 1-57366-117-1, 978-1-57366-117-1, 9781573661171,

Dirtmouth
by Alan Singer

Quality Paper
2004. 221 pp.
978-1-57366-117-1
Price:  $19.95 t

A mystery in two voices, Dirtmouth recounts the grisly murder of a young woman on Blackman's Heath, an ancient execution site in the Irish bogs. A pair of archaeologists, the obese and decadent Kraft Dundeed and his furious protégé, Roscoe Taste, each contest the other's self-justifying account of the crime while professing passionate love for the victim. Two silences frame their quarrel: Cinna McDermond, the brutalized subject of her lovers' confessions, and a nameless Investigator, whose invisible presence embodies the reader. Against this background of subterranean savagery, the competing monologues struggle to unearth a violence that neither can fully remember nor forget.

Dirtmouth is the third in a triad of novels by Alan Singer which investigate the entanglements of memory, self, and duplicitous will. As in Singer's Memory Wax and The Charnel Imp, Dirtmouth's luxuriant prose enacts its narrators' labyrinthine rationalizations, entangling action in grotesque imagery and dark insinuation, much as Blackman's Heath engulfs its Bronze Age victims. Singer's writing recalls the stylistic virtuosity of John Hawkes and Djuna Barnes and the obsessive ruminations of Beckett's and Poe's narrators. Drawing readers into an interrogation room as vast and constricted as the mind, Dirtmouth explores the archaeology of passion, exhuming crimes that mirror our own.

Alan Singer is the author of three previous novels, The Ox-Breadth (New Earth Books, 1978), The Charnel Imp (FC2, 1988), and most recently Memory Wax (FC2, 1996). He also writes on aesthetics and the visual arts, and he has just published Aesthetic Reason: Artworks and the Deliberative Ethos (Penn State University Press, 2003). Singer is professor of English at Temple University.

"Like William Goyen's The House of Breath or Beckett's Play, Singer's Dirtmouth's voices flutter purgatorially somewhere between life and death. But while Goyen offers the ghostly and weightless consolation of both memory and air, Singer's voices here are weighty as earth and as the crimes they have committed, the sentences as substantial and as carefully articulated as preserved bodies. Dirthmouth is a compelling and perfectly rendered meditation on the dark struggle between memory and forgetting." --Brian Evenson, author of The Wavering Knife

Praise for Singer's Memory Wax:
"...extraordinary...a vision reminiscent of John Hawkes and Faulkner before him...hard work on the reader's part, which will pay him or her back in a wide, wondrous wealth."
--American Book Review

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