Well, If We Are Talking About Death . . .

I just read an essay on Silence of the Lambs, which has me tempted to pick up a copy of Copkiller Number One (January 1968), edited by Robert Head and Darlene Fife.  This New Orleans magazine is notorious for its title, but it is now a collector’s item due to the inclusion of Charles Bukowski’s poem “The Status Q for Me and Yew,” which happens to be one of Buk’s scarcer appearances.  Douglas Blazek is also featured.

The mag’s title makes me think less the violent politics of the late 1960s, which advocated killing Pigs (like the Ice-T song decades later) than a violent assault on the literary police, those protectors of the Canon and the Ivory Tower, by outlaws like Bukowski and Blazek.  Copkiller was a one-shot not a multiple homicide.

Or should I say a serial murder?  The serial killer is one of the most literary of criminals, a frustrated artist depositing bodies like serialized chapters for detectives to read.  Each corpse part of a corpus, a body of work that celebrates the genius of the author.  Jack the Ripper and the Zodiac Killer, who merged murder and writing, created works as indecipherable as Finnegans Wake.  Semina Number 8, which features a photograph of serial killer William Heirens writing his confession, makes these connections clear.  I cannot say enough just how remarkable that issue of Semina is.

Are little magazine editors like Berman, Head and Fife serial killers as well?  Mags serially dumped in the mailbox, mutilated victims of the editing process (the red pencil cuts deepest), waiting for interpretation and interpreters to produce a coherent message.  Critics and readers serving as police.  And we get back to Copkiller again.



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