Reverse-Gentrification of the Literary World

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Grab Bag


Cult novelist Dennis Cooper launches the third title of Little House on the Bowery, the Akashic series he is editing and promoting.

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Excerpt from Grab Bag


I hid in my room. Scrubbed sand on my pecker and belly and bum. I was trying to kill the germs but my hands kept shaking and then it hit me. The man’s word. Combust.

* * *

The ground smoked. The police come by. Also a man in a black suit who talked to Dad and the firemen.

I said to him, “You find out who done it?”

He said nobody did it. He said germs lived in our hay and rotted it and the rotting made it hot. He said it was chemical. He called it something.

“What do you mean germs?” I said.

“They’re invisible,” he said. “You can’t get rid of them.”

* * *

The roof crashed and sparks flew up. A firetruck roared in. Behind it come a truck loaded up with guys.

Dad shook me by the shoulders. He said, “What were you doing?” He said, “Were you fooling with caps?”

I started to cry. My snot all black from smoke.

* * *

Dad dove into the smoke. Then him and the horses come barrelling out. McNaughtons drove down from their farm and then the Pointers run down from theirs and they all got a water line going between the barn and the well. Me holding buckets while Ted Pointer pumped.

Ted shouted, “You didn’t see anyone did you?”

I shook my head. The flames went high as pines.

* * *

The sun was burning something fierce. The grass pricked my feet. I tiptoed to the stoop and plopped down on the porch glider, picked hayseed out of my hair and off my shoulders. Then I heard it. A whoosh. The barn blurred. Flames sawed the roof.

* * *

Ted Pointer was lying at the back of the hayloft. “How’s my buddy?” he said.

The hay was cooking. I stepped out of my overalls and crouched. His pecker was jerking itself upright. Blue veins, green veins, veins the color of red cabbage. I put the end of it in my mouth. Horses snorting below. Then he lifted my head and rolled on top of me and started rubbing his body against mine. His forehead dripping into my eyes.