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The Show that Smells


Derek McCormack’s most compelling work yet is his second selection in Dennis Cooper’s groundbreaking Little House on the Bowery fiction series.

$15.95 $11.96

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What people are saying…

“[Derek McCormack is] a whiz at fashion and other often-freaky stuff that the popular imagination latches onto . . .”
Toronto Star

“Framing the work as a lost Tod Browning film, McCormack deploys era personalities—fashion designer and perfumer Elsa Schiaparelli, country crooner Jimmie Rodgers, Lon Chaney and, what the hell, Coco Chanel—to tell a vampire story set in a hall of mirrors splattered with blood, perfume, and sequins. Written in a style of McCormack’s own invention, The Show that Smells reeks of genius and is the author’s most original work to date.”
Eye Weekly

“Derek McCormack has written a mini-masterpiece that keeps swelling with invention long after you’ve put it down.”
—Guy Maddin, filmmaker


A selection of Dennis Cooper’s Little House on the Bowery series.

McCormack begins his quirky Tod Browning–inspired tale with a disclaimer: “This book is a work of fiction. It is a parody. It is a phantasmagoria . . . Elsa Schiaparelli was never a vampire. Shocking! by Schiaparelli never contained blood.” The work of Schiaparelli, a 1930s Italian fashion designer, was influenced by Surrealist Salvador Dalí, and the same spirit permeates The Show that Smells, which is set in a maze of mirrors. Schiaparelli dresses introduced playfulness and a sense of “anything goes” to the fashion industry. She branched into perfume and became designer to a number of film stars. In addition to Schiaparelli, this tale is about Jimmie Rodgers, a country music–singer dying of tuberculosis, and his wife, Carrie, who tries to save him by selling her soul to a devil who designs haute couture clothing.

Starring a host of Hollywood’s brightest stars, including Schiaparelli’s real-life rival Coco Chanel, character actor Lon Chaney, Joan Crawford, and the Carter Family (as red state vampire hunters, no less), The Show that Smells is a thrilling tale of hillbillies, high fashion, and horror. An invitation to adults to make-believe, it is sure to please fashion connoisseurs, fans of classic and cult cinema, and freaks everywhere. In McCormack’s world, the power of death can be bottled and sold, and it certainly smells.

Book Details

  • Paperback: 120 pages
  • Published: 7/1/09
  • IBSN: 9781933354712
  • e-IBSN: 9781617750939


DEREK McCORMACK is the author of Grab Bag (Akashic), The Show that Smells (Akashic), and The Haunted Hillbilly (Soft Skull), which was named a “Best Book of the Year” by both the Village Voice and the Globe and Mail, and was a Lambda Literary Award finalist. He writes fashion and arts articles for the National Post, and lives in Toronto.

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