Surplus Will: the Stories of Andrew Gallix

The second chapter of Tom Bradley‘s Put It Down in a Book is devoted to a brilliant analysis of some of my short stories. It’s a slightly altered version of an essay that appeared in nthposition in 2007:

Tom Bradley. “Surplus Will: the Stories of Andrew Gallix.” Put It Down in a Book. Cedar Park, TX: 2009. 21-26.

A myriadminded man, Mr Best reminded.
Coleridge called him a myriadminded man…
His unremitting intellect is the hornmad Iago…

— James Joyce, Ulysses

Almost nobody has ever adequately evoked that gorgeous monster-hardon called Paris. But Andrew Gallix has nailed it to the wall like a luminiferous aether of opium jelly. I reckon he can do it because his language is lush and orgiastic as the topic it encompasses. Well up to the task, with plenty left over.

One is left hankering for more, for a whole book of his “Gelignite Dolly-Bird.” She calls for an unzipping and delectating till consciousness succumbs, spilling out into a larger frame: effusion, sheer tsunamic detail of sense and satire, where one gets to fuck and mock multiple celebrities, ankle deep in menses and jizz, all over million-franc Persian rugs.

Gallix’s heroine has only just awakened from a drunken swoon when she sees a silver-greasepainted faun tiptoeing among the piles of her fellow fucked out orgiasts. He has awakened her with his “muffled squishy sound as of manifold foreskins peeled back in unison,” as he despoils the flopped bodies, the semi-comatose pataphysicians, post-structuralists and “pointilllist ponces in pointy shoes.”

Such a silver faun must soon transmogrify into an incubus outright, and so he does. He coalesces into Beauty itself, personified with a dick attached, and he despoils Gallix’s heroine, to the accompaniment of this mentholated whisper: “You can only take so much Beauty…”

And that’s how much Beauty he gives us. The depravity of Gallix’s Paris is transfigured by paragraphs of sheer transcendent Beauty, given out with virtuosic offhandedness, as we ascend into Gallix’s galaxy: “…Fanny’s angelic features were bathed in gold, her halo melting like fondue cheese, and sparkling fruit carved in dewdrops dangled lasciviously from chandeliers like overripe testes.”

This Beauty, this silver faun, is a slender version of that other incubus whom we once saw tiptoeing and despoiling the flopped bodies at Shrewsbury, on the plain between Prince Hal’s camp and the rebels’. That far fatter faun, metallic with chain mail rather than silver greasepaint, was bent over a supine figure, too, like Gallix’s, and likewise whispered in its ear. But he didn’t say, “You can only take so much beauty.” Rather, he huffed, “if thou embowel me to-day, I’ll give you leave to powder me and eat me too tomorrow… with a new wound in your thigh, come you along with me.”

Falstaff’s embowelling cannibal woundings go direct and deep as Gallix’s Beauty, right down to our connective tissue. The former’s stomping ground was a blood-rank battlefield, while the latter’s is a rut-reeking Parisian parlour. But the deeper parallels hold true, those beauteous similarities obtain. As it is in Henry IV Part I, so it is in “Half-Hearted Confessions of a Gelignite Dolly-Bird”: every phrase of Gallix, every juxtaposition of words, is considered and balanced, faithful to the Shakespearean ideal. And, like Will, he waxes hilarious, at will. An almost random selection of one liners from another Gallixean rhapsody, “Forty Tiddly Winks,” will demonstrate:

God knows how much of his mortal coil ended up in the hoover on a weekly basis.

One of them could actually recall being buggered by Bulgakov, and a bloody good shag it was too…

…as if he had spent the night snogging a siren in the snot-green sea. (Not only the Bard, but Joyce is all through this, thoroughly assimilated and metabolized.)

In “Forty Tiddly Winks”, Gallix obliges so-called Judeo-Christian civilization with a hilariously despairing revision of the first several chapters of Genesis. His could be one of those great revisionist insights that penetrate and suffuse the collective awareness and spur new epochs: “The genocide of humanity itself.”

For Gallix, Adam has been replaced by Tim(e), the Miltonic lecturer who lives opposite Cerberus and is perpetually pursued by his own (Time’s) winged chariot. I can see why “Tim is out of joints,” and why he’s in such deep trouble with “them.” It’s because he has found out the most hideous secret of all: Eve and her hung hubby never ate of the tree in the first place, and were never as gods. Tim has Holocausted us all into a hole, Jew and gentile alike. Tim has run out.

The kiddy classroom in “Forty Tiddly Winks,” like the sixth chapter of Genesis, is peopled by critters procreatively bizarre enough to be identified with the Nephilim. Those tots prematurely pubesce, “ovulating wildly” as they gaze up at the forbidden fruit that oozes “Angel-come,” in a paragraph that, beyond its other-dimensional strangeness, is physically delicious, like so many other Gallixian structures.

Miss Ramsay, the kiddies’ teacher, is terrible and unparaphrasable. She is the trans-sexed YHWH, jealous, apple-forbidding, seeing that “it was good.” She skips ahead a few pages to peek at the end of the Good Book, and finds herself suddenly in the middle of Saint John’s rant. Seeing the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse “beyond the pale, skimming candy-floss clouds on foot-propelled micro-scooters,” Miss Ramsay is turned into a serpent coiffed medusa — one of many magical metamorphoses in this strange Gallixy.

Those micro-scooters go beyond art and beyond criticism, and scoot into realms we can only speculate about. We can only tentatively hazard that something seems to be undulating, or breathing, behind these stories, as in the Hindus’ Unthinkable That — unadulterated strangeness.

This is my favorite kind of writing, all the more pleasurable for its rarity (almost nobody has the chops to do it): exploding with allusions to the big, the timeless, the Biblical, the Shakespearean, the Miltonic, the Joycean, claiming its own niche among those gorgeous monster hardons through sheer dint of artistic and intellectual doughtiness, and at the same time dancing light as a mote of hashish ash.

Nietzsche distinguished between artists who wring their works from a deficit of vitality, and those who blast forth from sheer surplus will. Andrew Gallix is clearly to be counted among the latter.