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I Spit On Your Realities
August 27, 2013 4:35 PM   Subscribe

Sullivan’s book was a hit. It was the single best-selling book of 1947, ahead of de Beauvoir, ahead of Sartre, ahead of Camus. People wanted to meet him. The press wanted to talk to him. He was also the plaintiff in a civil suit that could carry a heavy fine or even lead to time in jail. He had to appear in court, which was tricky, because Vernon Sullivan didn’t exist. (SLTheAwl)
posted by Rustic Etruscan (17 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
Pataphor:
Naturally enough, the French have a term for this type of shadowy existence between the fictional and the real. Vernon Sullivan was a pataphor, an "extended metaphor that creates its own context," or as its inventor Pablo Lopez put it, "that which occurs when a lizard's tail has grown so long it breaks off and grows a new lizard."
Here we have a fantastical-yet-concrete metaphor for the reification of metaphor.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:55 PM on August 27, 2013 [8 favorites]


Fun stuff.
posted by chainlinkspiral at 4:57 PM on August 27, 2013


Rustic Etruscan: "It was the single best-selling book of 1947, ahead of de Beauvoir, ahead of Sartre, ahead of Camus."

To put this into context for modern US readers, it is roughly equivalent to "Ahead of Dan Brown".
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 5:00 PM on August 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's hard to avoid Vian if you listen to Jazz or have any interest in the Parisian scene of the 40's - 60's - even though he lived such a short life (dead by 1959). And yet, somehow I had not come across this episode in his life. It's an amazing story. Thanks for posting this.
posted by VikingSword at 5:03 PM on August 27, 2013


roughly equivalent to "Ahead of Dan Brown"

Too dated. We in the ADD generation need a more recent reference.
posted by yerfatma at 5:08 PM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Rustic Etruscan: It was the single best-selling book of 1947, ahead of de Beauvoir, ahead of Sartre, ahead of Camus.

To put this into context for modern US readers, it is roughly equivalent to "Ahead of Dan Brown".
1. That's not what I wrote. That's what the piece's author Jacob Mikanowski wrote.

2. Yes, despite their elevated modern reputations, de Beauvoir et al. were popular in their time. This is clear from the context.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 5:10 PM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Just out of curiosity, does anyone know which hotel near Gare Montparnasse was the scene of the copycat murder?
posted by JoeZydeco at 5:17 PM on August 27, 2013


yerfatma: "Too dated. We in the ADD generation need a more recent reference."

Is Twilight still too old?
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 5:45 PM on August 27, 2013


Books are too dated. Ahead of Miley?
Speaking of the extended metaphor that creates its own context...
posted by dhartung at 6:15 PM on August 27, 2013


holy moly. I almost didn't read to the end. I'm glad I did.
posted by vespabelle at 6:55 PM on August 27, 2013


This is exquisite.
posted by nicebookrack at 7:15 PM on August 27, 2013


when Lee’s bobbysoxer friends gorge themselves on canned chicken in aspic (aspic?!) after an orgy: "Bill, Dick and Nicholas were in their shirtsleeves and covered in sauce. Lou had an enormous mayonnaise stain down her dress"

After reading this part, I thought for sure the whole article was going to turn out to be a fiction. Because it is so awesome I can't believe it wasn't created for the argument.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 7:40 PM on August 27, 2013 [9 favorites]


Wait, is Boris Vian actually Jason Segel?
posted by Literaryhero at 3:14 AM on August 28, 2013


I want this in my obit:
The prosecutor at his trial offered to acquit Vian of offending public decency, if he could demonstrate that he was a genius. He declined.
Impressed that this book came out years before Charles Willeford's Pick-Up. I wonder if he'd read it.
posted by drowsy at 4:38 AM on August 28, 2013


holy moly. I almost didn't read to the end. I'm glad I did.

Me, too!

Thank you.
posted by Mister Bijou at 5:43 AM on August 28, 2013


Loved this, thanks Rustic Etruscan!
posted by xenophile at 7:27 AM on August 28, 2013


Merci, c'est tres impressionnant.
posted by sneebler at 5:25 PM on August 29, 2013


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