Thus Spake the Corpse: An Exquisite Corpse Reader 1988-1998:

Volume 2―Fictions, Travels & Translations

From 1983 to 1998, Exquisite Corpse: A Journal of Books & Ideas delighted the indignant and the sophisticated and gave heartburn to the fearful and the tenured. A thorn in the side of the Literary Establishment, it attracted a cadre of contributors united by a kind of suicidal fearlessness against The Way We Think Now. Here, in two generous volumes, the editors choose some of their favorite items from an over-rich decade. These are the pieces that set the standard, enraged some people, and made the magazine necessary to those readers who, in the words of the editors, “banged their fists on unread stacks of New Yorkers and cried out as one, ‘Where were you when we were dying for lack of real poetry and speculation?'”

Highlights: Poetry by Antler, James Broughton, Hayden Carruth, Tom Clark, Robert Creeley, John Giorno, Anselm Hollo, David Ignatow, James Laughlin, Gerard Malanga, Joel Oppenheimer, James Purdy, Carl Rakosi, Ed Sanders, and ninety (90!) others. Three dozen essays, including “Is Literature Useful?” by Georges Bataille, “The American Male,” by Kay Boyle, “The Sur(region)alist Manifesto,” by Max Cafard, “My Abortion,” by Deborah Salazar, and “Letters from the Proud Highway,” by Hunter S. Thompson. The best of Laura Rosenthal’s column “The Body Bag,” which responded to would-be contributors with witty encouragement and, occasionally, devastating criticism. And letters from Clayton Eshleman, Edward Field, Ishmael Reed, and others.

Andrei Codrescu exchanged a two thousand dollar bribe to the Communist regime for the freedom to leave his native Romania in 1965. Two years later, at the age of twenty-one, he became involved in the thriving literary scene in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, where he met such luminaries as Allen Ginsberg and Anne Waldman. He published his first book of poetry in 1970 and has since produced an average of one book a year—novels and essays as well as poetry—along with teaching, acting, and serving as a regular commentator on NPR.

Laura Rosenthal collaborated with Andrei Cordrescu at the “anti-literary” magazine Exquisite Corpse. Readers may remember her as the editor of the “Body Bag” column, which printed and answered the questions of Corpse hopefuls.