Philippe Gaulier & Irish Chris


Philippe Gaulier


Irish Chris

It makes me very happy that I can send Philippe Gaulier long rambling emails about the things that are in my head.

It is also a joy that I am able to telephone Irish Chris and have him pour wisdom and kindness all over me. Today he asked me, knowing nothing about Tonseisha, my epic opera project,
“and stop me if you think I’m crazy,” that had I thought of making an opera where a soprano sings about where the removal man is and he replies in operatic song. The high art form of opera presenting the every day.

My opera is going to be as much an opera as the book club was a book club. I know jack shit about opera, and I knew fuck all about book clubs when I started the Brautigan Book Club. (Incidentally, a ‘regular’ book club still terrifies me for all the reasons one should be wary.) This can only mean good things. So many good things have come out of this year, despite all the heartbreak and exhaustion and yes, my god, there’s been quite a quantity of both.

I mean, Irish Chris gets it. He sees what I’m doing and he values it and he tells me AND he challenges and questions me. He’s really rather a miracle but now I’ve said he’s my angel so many times, I retract because of the point I’m labouring: we all have this capacity to see each other, not clearly all the time, but a heck of a lot more than we give ourselves time to. It kind of takes a lot of…courage to stop, to look, to acknowledge. I am working on growing my balls bigger every day. Change always hurts a little.


One of the many wonderful things he said today was how as a volunteer at a museum, he’s recognised by people who’ve attended the Brautigan Book Club. One of my hopes was that people everywhere would take and grow other book clubs and their own seeds, whatever they are.
I really hope, and am concerned about this, that the fact that it isn’t “elitist and intellectual” remains at its core. Everyone (see my last post) is beautiful and can create the most wonderful effect in others.

I have never, ever, edited or censored a thing sent to me with regards to the book club. The resulting whole is far more than what many cuts would have made. Having said that, it was INCREDIBLY important to me that after all we planned and talked about for over a year regarding making a physical token of the work and art made – a zine – had to be done as far as humanly possible. I am forever grateful to Michael Caines for steering this ship with constancy and resolve. The resulting publication is one of the things I am proudest of. I busted a gut and a half to get it done and even as the ink dried, literally, I hadn’t been sure if it would happen, disaster after disaster was met and overcome (thank you Daniella VG), and sure, it really IS just a zine. But my goodness, making that taught me several important lessons similar to the ones I mention in my last blog post:

  • Trust my instincts about what almost-strangers are able to produce. (I see you, I am hungry for you. Don’t ever be so scared that you stop dead.)
  • Stick to my guns. 
  • And as Ira Glass says in one of my favourite quotes (not being a fan of quotes from famous people) TRUST my taste. 

Apart from the obvious, I love how the zine takes the reader on a journey. It is multilayered and the texture of the ride is pleasingly spikey, sexy, and smooth. Everyone who’s in it is there for a very specific reason and it was put together extremely carefully and with very single iota of the skill I have gained in making a hugely complex construct look as simple as pie. I made it with all the love I have.

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