» What God Has Joined Together «
Kevin McGowin
Sunday 24 - Palm Sunday

From the Publisher:

It's been difficult the last few nights since Roger van Cleef's murder. And in San Francisco, where I live, the lunatic fringe has been emailing me with some off-the-wall ideas, that van Cleef, like Jesus or Morrison or Hitler, faked his own death. This is completely not true. He no more faked his death than did Winston Churchill — and besides, while he did have real insight into Poe, the author, I had no idea he was fucking around in Baltimore, moonlighting reviews when he was working on a book on my time and my dime. But that point's pretty fucking moot now, and I was sick of him anyway, and besides, Roger van Cleef wasn't his real name, but once Avery Mitchell killed him, Avery Mitchell ceased to exist too! Needless to say, Avery hadn't counted on that. Hey, this ain't Fight Club here. Or The Dark Half. These people were (are) two entirely different people, now in hell, for if hell is the state of being apart from God (one's creator, presumably), when you kill God, you die, too! Like, what the hell did you ever hear about Pontius Pilate after the Crucifixion? NADA. Yeah, sure, the part about Jesus's uncle Joseph of Arimathea asking for his nephew's corpse, but that's fiction, written as it was by a student of St. Mark's eighty years after the fact, because Pilate, like Avery, just stopped being there, see. Same with the rumor about how J. of A. took Jesus to England during those Missing Teenage Years, all that. I read about that in an Iris Murdoch novel.

But still, here in a city that's home to The Church of St. John Coltrane (with good reason, there, by the by) there's a church on Mission where this morning I heard a bunch of children singing,

What a friend we have in 'Pu-tin
All our sins and griefs to bear;
'Putin's part of every weak-ness,
Take it to his ass in prayer.

Like what the hell? But I guess hymns have a lot to do with nursery rhymes, too, which is why the Wesleys, Sweet Singers, are the saints for March 3rd, where the now-dead narrator talks about the reasearch done by Brian McCoon. Big connection there, I think. That's the point, I guess — what Jung in the 40s called "synchronicity" and what we in the 60s called "serendipity," well, it's just what God has joined together! But still, as for van Cleef, I'm glad he's dead, really, all his Capital Letters were getting to be a bit Much (even if it's just the Definitive Representation of the Thing Itself), but in all fairness to his Memory, not that he's a Saint or anything, or even a Superhero, his work on Poe is still worthy of reading, as is this unpublished piece I found tonight among my stack of "Reviews in Limbo":

"The Man Who Was Used Up."
E.A. Poe.

Reviewed by Roger van Cleef

Among our Great Living American Writers, Mr. Poe, while less Ponderous than Melville, is not nor has ever been the Writer Hawthorne is, an opinion I share with another Great Living Novelist, William T. Vollmann. But his new Story is a superb example of the heavily ironic virtuosity which makes Poe's latest work a hell of a lot better than the stuff he was churning out five years ago. Like "Beatrice," where some dude wigs and digs up his dead cousin to fuck her, shit like that. But in "The Man Who Was Used Up," Mr. Poe, a gentleman in every way, I am happy to report after my Recent Trip to Baltimore, has constructed a narrator who, while initially impressed with the polished outward Appearance of a War Hero he meets at a Party, comes to see through his (homoerotic?) obsession with the man's Poise to the Truth — the Hero is merely a Shell of a Man, not at all really a Man, even, but a fellow with a squeaky voice who is Artificially Constructed of fake body parts! The many implications of this are obvious: people are rarely Who or What they Seem, one should never attempt to get too close to one's idols, etc.

But the manner in which the story is Told is so Comic as to have had This Reader shitting himself with the Turn of Every Page. While it could be said that Poe ripped the whole thing off from The Wizard of Oz, which is a definite Influence, one must also Remember the vision of the Statue in the Book of Daniel with the Clay Feet.

One hopes that Mr. Poe will continue to write in this Vein, and spend less time smoking Crack on Poppleton until he sees Big Black Birds in his room talking to him. One also hopes that Poe will not be murdered by one of his own Characters, deluded Substance Abusers, the Lot of them. But the New Story is a Winner, one that's even good enough to get in The New Yorker if Poe would just stop publishing his fine work online for free, which consigns him to labor in obscurity and poverty.

Raleigh, NC

— I trust I've done well by Roger's memory in making the above piece available as an interlude on this fine Palm Sunday as I figure out the best course of action for the rest of What God Has Joined Together, for though van Cleef asserted publicly in Chapter 20 that he had finished the book, not a scrap of writing exists to bear that out. Perhaps, if justice can't be done by my own hand, I will call on an old friend to take up the task from van Cleef's notes, like somebody did with Turandot, that shitty opera by Puccini. One hopes from here, the end will write itself, as it were, moving towards a strange but inevitable conclusion, just as always has been the case when God Runs the Show.

Damon Sauve, The Publisher
Berkeley, CA

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