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Mermaids for Attila, Mermaids for Attila, 0932511503, 0-932511-50-3, 978-0-932511-50-8, 9780932511508, , , Mermaids for Attila, 0932511511, 0-932511-51-1, 978-0-932511-51-5, 9780932511515,

Mermaids for Attila
by Jacques Servin

Quality Paper
1991. 124 pp.
Price:  $14.95 t

A bathotopia for the living

Mermaids for Attila is a fun, hands-on, toy-like book on the subject of well-orchestrated national behaviors. In it Servin considers horrors and the weirdest political truths. Characters discover themselves in communities where citizens engage in intricate dances that appear great, ugly, exploitative, silly, or even beautifully unremarkable. How do they know the steps? As if they had cribsheets, they are unshakably confident in their footwork. They want so badly to be in a play that they are anyway. Jacques Servin is an adept at imagining how things-once freed from their ordinary moorings in an administered reality—might recohere in a world where life actually lives. Mermaids for Attila is a bathotopia for the living, a naked lunch on Baker Street where the strangest ideas become well-seasoned truths.

Jacques Servin is without peer in the pure inventiveness of his language. His voice, vision, wit, and charm are absolutely unique in contemporary American writing. Like Donald Barthelme before him, Servin is a gypsy original, always startling, always lively, usually hilarious. Mermaids for Attila immediately established Jacque Servin as “a significant and very original writer,” in the words of Ron Sukenick. He divides his time between San Francisco, New York, and Europe.
“Jacques Servin is a comic writer whose awesome intelligence sails along and occasionally ploughs the border between language and a half-dreamed, half-lived life. The titles, seemingly plucked raw from the middle of still screaming paragraphs, can by themselves cause a kind of vertigo: “The Method of Distillery Was Remarkable but We Angled Down,” “Bad Day on the Moon,” and “Spooky Days of the Wide-Eyed.” The paragraphs themselves heal magically fast because Servin is a frighteningly inventive writer. At times the undertow of other languages and a mysterious occult quality make the text quake. . . . I felt occasionally that I was riding a tilt-a-smorgasbord during an earthquake. Mermaids for Attila is a stupendously original collection, and Attila the Reader can but accept these mermaids (Servin stories) with awed (if occasionally queasy) gratitude.”
—Andrei Codrescu, author of Belligerence