Textual Healing


Dodie Bellamy’s Cunt-Ups is an endearing little book, snug, looking very much like a stocking stuffer. A small mouse on its cover is peering into the darkness. That is, the eternal, glowing night of intense dedication to eating pussy, to sucking cock, to getting fucked.

Edited Leni Riefenstahl-style, in a chopped-up litany of escalating desire, Cunt-Ups constantly reorients: “In the sky I thought I might come,” it tenderly says more than once. This always new monster of sexual description and intent is constructed as an homage to the cut-up technique of William Burroughs and maybe more important the late Kathy Acker. Bellamy generously describes her method at the back of the book. “I used a variety of texts by myself and others.” Then she divided each page of text into four squares and mixed the squares up so that each page was now two or three parts her own work and one or two of someone else’s. Which then she reworked.

Her reworking is where the excitement comes in. Bellamy’s fresh use of this staple of avant-gardism advances maybe the most important stage of feminism yet: a gorgeous and excessive forgetting. Don’t we need to dispense with being only or specifically female to be fully human, to join and even orchestrate the mess? Her seams of meaning are frequently sound: “I have a cunt so that I can fit about the cloud plowed under. Puzzle.” There are other moments where it sounds like what is being constructed is faith: “. . . your eyes will be open,” her creature fervently promises. “There you would be with tears and blood and crosses in my eyes. . . . ” But the impish sexual narrative always prevails: ” . . . you would suck my lungs, and you would.” Like her previous books (Feminine Hijinx, The Letters of Mina Harker, and in the anthology High Risk), she writes with the sheen of a professional gambler. In Cunt-Ups, it’s why her cut-ups rock. It’s all art, but her talking dirty makes us desperately want to play.