A a Novel by Andy Warhol

Friday, October 4, 2013 § 0

A Pop Art Novel: writing/speaking Dialogue in A by Andy Warhol

A Book Review by 
David Detrich

(1968) by Andy Warhol is an innovative novel written as a Pop Art dialogue from taped conversations that discuss relevant concepts in modern art with a heightened sense of omniscience that creates a larger group of literary artists writing in the context of intertextuality. Andy Warhol writes/speaks in a casual style that is tuned into psychic group awareness that begins in the 1960s with two years of tape recorded conversations that create an American expressionist trend of speech written with inaccuracies of grammar: from gaps in the audio tape, from a one sided conversation overheard, from traffic sounds, and from other simultaneous voices interweaving in a collage of language that approaches the contemporary realism of New York street life. The theme of this monumental book/happening is social awareness with the transcription of conversations between two characters: Drella and Ondine based on Andy Warhol himself and Robert Olivo. The dialogue features an encounter with celebrity artist Robert Rauschenberg, with talk show hosts, and visits to well known restaurants, and begins with the characters Ondine and Drella speculating on art, sexuality, and the interesting characters on the New York scene.

What did you and Rita speak about last night first of all and isn't she marvelous? Yeah. Isn't she tru-truly marvelous. She's the meanest girl in the world but she's so fun.
     Really? She has a, y'know, like, like a, like a, like all mean girls she's been—she's been treated roughly.
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                                                                  Andy Warhol

A by Andy Warhol has the complexity of structure to make this an intellectually fascinating novel with detailed opinions on everything that is happening, and the narrator Drella shows the true spirit of the 1960s which is in tune with the complex social network revealing masterful insights into the art world of New York. The success of Andy Warhol is his acceptance of the social scene with appreciative portraits of the women and men who exist in the Pop Art context of American culture.

Poor darling, we  used to go to the, uh, uh—Rotten Rita will, will wing for—for the first time she will be recorded. Oh really? And she will, yes she'll even acCOMpany herself on the piano, and then we'll all go and have a magnificent brunch.
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                                                                   Andy Warhol

A by Andy Warhol has been inspired by the monumental novel Ulysses (1922) by James Joyce which describes a single day in the life of the narrator Stephen Daedalus, while a is composed of tape recorded conversations that reveal a very detailed self-portrait of Andy Warhol, and were transcribed by some young high school women for Andy Warhol, with gaps in the transcriptions, missing character names for some of the speakers, and with a spontaneous quality which includes misspelled words and incomplete sentence structures.

Oh, oh you know everybody does. Who? Oh, oh all the...what does misanthrope mean? It sorta means a powerful person right? Yeah, well these are not the powerful ones, these are the pilot fish, what, whatever-ever that stuff's supposed to mean. The ones that spread rumors, y'know.
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                                                                      Andy Warhol

The idea of a powerful misanthrope is defined as someone who plays a malevolent role towards humanity, and which shows that Drella is aware of the problematic nature of the network: foreshadowing the events which could disturb the city of New York and his own security some day.


Time is of the essenceactually it's the essential element of the book. There are just so many tapes to fill, hours to stay awake, and so time's on everyone's mind. The tape recorder's going; a book is being made. The Book is being made. In fact, the last words in the novel, spoken by Billy Name are: "Out of the garbage, into the Book."
                                                             The Last Words Are
                                                             Andy Warhol
                                                             Lynne Tillman

The idea of the idealized Book is a concept introduced by Stéphane Mallarmé, and is being realized in this artistic effort by Drella and Ondine to achieve the ultimate in novelistic transcription of the intricacies of life onto the printed page. I think Andy Warhol has inspired others to consider the novel as an artform that is similar to avant garde classical music in its use of dialogue as sound for concrete and electronic music. I am reminded of Michel Butor who wrote Niagara: A Stereophonic Novel (1965) which is a dialogue for stereo speakers, and is part of the trend towards experimentation with the novel as it converges on tape recorded sound for audio broadcast.

What do you mean Denny can't afford it?     Uh, it's 40,000 a painting now.      Well, that pretty good, isn't it? It's an awfully high price.      Describe himself.      Divine, yeah, high. Yeah but what does he do? How does he paint? Is he a pop, is he considered pop artist?      He is the father of art.     With surprise—What?      Well, he can't be like Jack Daniels.     He came before soup? I don't believe it, I don't believe it.      Well, in a diffferent way. He's half expressionism, half...     
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                                                                     Andy Warhol


The desire to be a Pop Artist is what inspires Drella to consider the money to be made on painting, and $40,000 a painting is enough incentive for the young artist to pursue modern art. I often think of Ronald Sukenick whose short story Roast Beef from The Death of the Novel and Other Stories (1969) is assembled from tape recorded conversation at the dinner table, and the influence of Andy Warhol on the writers of the 60s is evident in the use of taped dialogue, innovative graphic design, and with the spirit of spontaneous art happenings. Drella and Ondine are on the streets of New York when they see artist Robert Rauschenberg who has played a positive role for the young artists. 


Rauschenberg.     He wa he wa he wa he was the one behind the pole, right?     Yah. He's very famous, he's very, he won in the centennial last year, very, he's with some gallery, he's with The Cattleman. if it wasn't for him I wouldn't be able to do the kind of work I do.
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                                                                       Andy Warhol


Robert Rauschenberg is an artist known for his post Dada collage approach to American painting, and the positive role played by the older generation encourages the young artists to strive for originality. Andy Warhol has achieved this with his use of informal American Expressionist language, so that a compares favorably with Ulysses (1922) by James Joyce, and has influenced other innovative writers to write informal intricate detailed monumental novels. Women (1983) by Philippe Sollers has followed this trend of dropping the formality of narration to express cool social perceptions. A by Andy Warhol is spoken/written as  a series of esthetic mediations which have grown out of the art scene in New York to become an international movement towards intellectual Pop Art fiction.

David Detrich lives in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where he has just completed The Convergence of Two Narrative Lines Ascending, an ultramodern Surrealist novel written in minimal squares. This year he is working on Dream the Presence of the Circular Breast Starfish Topography, a monumental Surrealist novel written with innovative typographical design. His first novel Big Sur Marvels & Wondrous Delights (2001) is available from Amazon. He edits Innovative Fiction Magazine and Surrealist Star Clustered Illuminations.

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