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In Which Nonfiction Week Takes a Detour Into Fiction Week


From Stanley Elkin's novella, "The Making of Ashenden," found in his collection Searches and Seizures.

The story so far is that Brewster Ashenden is a legendary ladies man. He's finally found the woman of his dreams, and he journeys out to her estate, where her massive grounds include a pseudo-zoo on the property. At night Ashenden ventures outside and runs into a female bear in heat. This excerpt follows:

All the time he was thinking this he and the bear continued to circle, though Ashenden had almost forgotten where he was, and with whom. But then the bear leaned on him with all her weight and he began to buckle, his dreamy confidence, and thought of his strength deserting him. The bear whipped its paw behind Ashenden's back to keep him from falling, and it was like being dipped, supported in a dance, the she-bear leading and Brewster balanced against the huge beamy strength of her paw. With her free paw she snagged one sleeve of Ashenden's Harris tweed jacket and started to drag his hand towards her cunt.

He kneed her stomach and kicked at her crotch.


"Let go," he cried, "let go of me," but the bear, provoked by the pleasure of Ashenden's harmless, off-balance blows and homing in on itself, continued to pull at his arm caught in the sling of his sleeve, and in seconds had plunged Brewster's hand into her wet nest.

There was a quality of steamy mound, a transitional texture between skin and meat, as if the bear's twat were something butchered perhaps, a mysterious cut tumid with blood and the color of a strawberry ice-cream soda, a sexual steak. Those were its lips. He had grazed them with his knuckles going in, and the bear jerked forward, a shudder of flesh, a spasm, a bump, a grind. Frenzied, it drew his hand on. He made a fist but the bear groaned and tugged more fiercely at Ashenden's sleeve. He was inside. It was like being up to his wrist in dung, in a hot jello of baking brick fretted with awful straw. The bear's vaginal muscles contracted; the pressure was terrific, and the bones in his hand massively cramped. He tried to pull his fist out but it was welded to the bear's cunt. Then the bear's muscles relaxed and he forces his fist open inside her, his hand opening in a thick medium of mucoid strings, wet gutty filaments, moist pipes like the fingers for terrible gloves. Appalled, he pulled back with all his might and his wrist and hand, greased by bear, slid out, trailing a horrible suction, a concupiscent comet. He waved the hand in front of his face and the stink came off his fingertips like flames from a shaken candelabra, an odor of metal fruit, of something boiled years, of the center of the eart, filthy laundry, powerful as the stench of jewels and rare metals, of atoms and the waves of light.

"Oh Jesus," he said, gagging, "oh Jesus, oh God."

"u(r)m," the bear said, "wrenff."

It was as if he had looked up the dress of someone old. He couldn't look away and the bear, making powerful internal adjustments, obscenely posed, flexing her muscular rut, shivering, her genitalia suddenly and invisibly engined, a performance coy and proud. Finally he managed to turn his head, and with an almost lazy power and swiftness the bear reached out with one paw and plucked his cock out of his torn trousers. Ashenden winced--not in pain, the paw's blow had been gentle as accurate as a surgical thrust, his penis hooked, almost comfortable, a heel in a shoe, snug in the bear's curved claws smooth and cool as piano keys--and looked down.


His penis was erect.

Now that dude could write a metaphor. The entire collection is tremendous, with "The Condominium" getting my vote for perhaps the greatest piece of fiction ever composed.

"My Mother Was a Chinese Trapeze Artist" -- Tarkio

Tarkio is Colin Meloy from The Decemberists. This is his college project and they were very entertaining. Kill Rock Stars released a retrospective in the past few years called Omnibus that's excellent.

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