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||The Adventures of Little Lou
235mm x 156mm
ISBN 978 086130 1171
The Torture Queen of Heroin Chic
Lucy Swan's debut novel is a malevolent work of conceptual innovation; a picaresque overdose of dangerous narcotics that mashes body art fury, Holocaust decor, kill thrill hysteria and disenfranchised magic into an unwholesome concoction as deadly as the drugs its characters consume. A provocative new Savoy collaboration which amplifies the Lord Horror mythos in an unexpected way.
In The Adventures of Little Lou, Lucy Swan refashions her own persona to create a psychotic feminine foil for the masculine anti-heroes of David Britton's novels.
This authorial stratagem makes The Adventures of Little Lou a golden motherfucker of a book. Sharp as a butterfly blade and blessed with a shot of vicious humour running through its veins, this transgressive volume leaves the compromised meanderings of Kathy Acker, Poppy Z Brite and Elizabeth Young looking as limp and bloodless as one of Little Lou's discarded victims.
Jacket design by John Coulthart.
There is one more woman-writer, who may or may not baulk at the attribution of the term Outsider to her and her work – and I met someone once involved with Outsider-Artists, who so despised the term he dismissed it as ‘shit’, patronising, judgemental, and offensive; though he couldn’t give me an alternative term, and obviously wasn’t very familiar with the more favourable, literary-philosophical position I was arguing from – but who I would single out as the spikiest example I know of a contemporary heiress to the traditions of Sade and Crowley. If that does not make her an Outsider-Writer, vis-à-vis the corporate-commercial, mainstream literary establishment in this or any other country, I really don’t know what would! But I suspect she may angrily and violently insist on calling herself an Insider, with the very particular traditions she adheres to. Her name is Lucy Swan, and to the best of my knowledge she’s only had one book published, The Adventures of Little Lou, by Savoy Books. These publishers were notorious in Britain for the Lord Horror trilogy, by David Britton, who certainly insists on calling himself an Insider within the sort of Horror tradition that he has almost single-handedly carried to the farthest limits of degradation. He is in fact the last writer to have been jailed for writing a book, and has stated in the past that all writers setting out to smash – not push, smash! – the boundaries of fiction, should be prepared to go to jail for their work. This has to count in my view as an ultimate litmus-test of the convinced courage of a true Outsider-Writer, even if in a truly free society any writer could be as offensive as is possible, and only suffer verbal or written rebukes for being so. And no other publisher besides Savoy Books would ever have touched Britton’s work with a burning trident, never mind a barge-pole! And I have to say that Lucy Swan – whose book was published very much as a companion-piece to the Lord Horror trilogy – proves herself to be the female foil to Britton. Kathy Acker and Poppy Z Brite don’t even come close to her, and who else is there among recent and contemporary female authors? Her anti-heroine – with the profoundly deceptive, innocuous-sounding moniker, Little Lou – is the most savage, grotesque, female sadist created in women’s fiction for a very long time. Delight in torture, all sorts of depravity and eternal damnation are fused with occult symbolism, philosophical meditations and literary digressions. Lou is no Proto-Feminist, but an out-and-out monstress with no shame. She is less trans-gendered than a self-created mutant. She is so beyond the pale, she cultivates supra-human powers to ensure her survival and thrival, in an alternative reality conjured from her imaginings. There is no moral in the tale, only self-justifying, endless indulgence in Hell’s pleasures.
Swan is quite unique, in refusing her own publicity. Apart from the publicity on the Savoy Books website, one trawls Google in vain for any other posting by and about her. She wants to be an un-person in Cyberspace, as well as mainstream culture. She clearly doesn’t care what happens to her as a writer, just so long as she can continue to inhabit her own chosen space, which is so far removed it’s even beyond the outer-most fringes of the new Counter-Culture. Who knows whether or not she still writes, or wrote at all before Savoy Books discovered her, promoting her one known book – known, that is, to scarcely more than a handful of Savoyard feasters! There is though just one published photograph of her – which is by far and away, the most obscenely defiant photograph of an author on a book-cover that I’ve ever seen. A thin and bony Punk-woman with blond hair, dressed in a sleeveless Lord Horror T-short and a Nazi helmet, and supporting tattoos, stares out of a void into a void, the middle stump on her right hand raised stiffly in a gesture of extreme Contra Mundum dismissal! Fuck Off and Die! was the charmingly beguiling title of another of Savoy’s world-beating commercial books, and Ms Swan embodies the said title in her person to a perfection of imperfection! Suffice to say, the likes of Random House and Harper Collins have not exactly been tripping over themselves to sign her up! One might well fear for their skin, not to mention their immortal souls, if they ever dared do so! Though the legions of ‘pretty young faces’ – mainly female – adorning the covers of so much of the meretricious trash routinely published nowadays, who ooze oleaginous poise in their pop-saccharine profiles, like aspiring, if talentless, flibbertigibbets who may be relied upon never to poop the party, would in my view benefit enormously from the application of a good dollop of Ms Swan’s triumphantly outlandish makeover! That of course is as likely a prospect as the imminent return of discriminative sense in the corporate assessment of true quality or merit in contemporary literary fiction! Those who milk the literary market for all it, or they—same difference! – are worth, will be the last to exhort the heresy that the market can in fact be bucked. But until the old Thatcherite commandment is u-turned, the rot shall never be stopped.
Adam Daly, The Outsider-Writer: Volume 1
Not so much your average fantasy fare, The Adventures of Little Lou is more incredibly weird Dr. Mengele mutated characters enhanced-stating themselves through a sado-masochistic, post-Nazi racist alternate reality, trailing nihilistic havoc around them with complex sentence structures. Which is nice.
Lucy Swan has a prose-terrorism pedigree of sorts, and a grounding in controversy. This first novel follows some earlier short stories thatin addition to Little Lou, her own creationutilise characters from David Britton's novel Lord Horror, and its subsequent notorious spinoff comics series including Meng & Ecker, the first comic ever to be banned in this country.
The writing is hard to pin downit's an interesting trawl of the grotesque and explicit, taking us through nightmarish urban landscapes filled with the children of an ancient Doktor Mengele, his post-Auschwitz experimentees walking, drifting and crawling through streets in a drug-induced state of hallucinogenic horror. The language is almost impenetrable at times, but it is undeniably inventive and provocative, exuding heavy sexuality like a tongue poking through a gimp mask. The main character, Little Lou, has a foul mouth, an S&M fetish and a heroin addiction. We first meet her charging steel pins in her body into an explosive electric orgasm, shattering her sensibilities into the dead end of a paragraph. Our leading man, Doktor Mengele, has a very tall but withered body and drinks Bloody Marys composed of Polish vodka, fresh human blood and Worcester sauce. Not bereft of humour, the characters and dialogue constantly push the reader, with curious moments of reward and horror in equal measure.
This isn't porn for weirdos, thoughit's a satirical exploration of a society bereft of morality, of ethical values, of sensitivities and emotions, that unfortunately never quite manages to convince. Still, it's got a set of Siamese Cat-Girls, a Carnal Palace, a Street of a Thousand Twats and a cameo by James Joyce. Chances are its not going to be your cup of tea, but if you pass it in a bookshop, be sure to say hello. Where else are you going to read a line like: "The Meng's thick tongue curls out and cups the bloody buck knife as though relishing a cornet on Blackpool Pleasure Beach"?
ROSE WOODHOUSE, DeathRay
In The Adventures of Little Lou Lucy Swan grabs fascism with both hands and gives it a hot, surrealistic shag, So she should. If the ridiculously misogynistic Martin Amis and his ilk have declared certain subjects artistically off-limits, all they've done is restrict themselves. That's their loss.
So let's enter the world of Little Lou, a parallel universe where Dr Mengelethe Atrocity Angel of Auschwitzhas spawned two surgically-created 'sons', Meng and Ecker, and rules a twilight hell of his own. Far more radical than Clive Barker and his fellow splatter-freaks, Swan doesn't merely rely on shock value; she takes Nazi ideology and gives it a severely Cubist twist, layering horrific montage upon montage. The result is black, genocide humour seen through the eyes of Dali, and it's as addictive as nails through a willing scrotum.
Far from advocating Mengele chic, Swan ridicules Nazi values through the good doctor's bizarrely modified flesh; he's a pathetic, Frankenstein's monster of his own creation. That's not counting Meng, his scalpel-built 'son', best described as Iggy Pop with tits, and his brother Ecker, a vegetarian, size zero psychopath!
So thank Christ there's one spark of optimism in the book, Little Lou herself. A spunky, hard-fisted and electrically powered junkie, she's a free spirit dedicated to fucking Mengele over big-time. Literally festooned with piercings, tattoos and scarifications where the sun doesn't shine, she makes Amy Winehouse look like a Girl Guide! That's definitely my kind of girl, but a true Torture Queen TAKES pain as well as gives it, and Lou's threshold is sky-high! It has to be; Mengele's one tough, vicious cookie, as tough and demanding as Swan's beautifully exact, but dauntingly dense prose.
Screw Harry Potter whimsy. Lou's quest is fuelled by smack, the Holy Grail of addictive substances. As users from William Burroughs to Keith Richards make blindingly clear, smack insulates the parts other drugs cannot reach, and frees up stunning, single-minded creativity. Better still, it stops users being distracted by external bullshit; it's equally effective screening out English whinging and Nazi demagogues!
So no wonder Lou's smacked up to the gills throughout the book, and it's a quality that gives Swan's writing an intense, amniotic intimacy and conviction.
SASHA DE SUINN, QX Magazine #679
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