LENA

New York: Grove Press Inc. / Venus Library, 1971. First edition thus. Wraps. Mass market paperback. Photo-illustrated wraps. Minor edgewear; faint crease to front cover. 158 pages. Near fine. Near fine. Item #24335

Biker-exploitation sleaze erotica with violent interracial themes, co-written principally by Harrison and Bronson (aka Michael Tims, later president of Printed Matter and founder of Toronto art collective General Idea.) First published by Taurus Books under the name A.L. Bronson and subsequently released in this edition by "A.C. McWhortle," LENA would later be republished a third time, as LANA, with a Richard Prince-illustrated cover.

Though Bronson described the book's initial composition in collaborative terms, in some detail -- "About 8 of us originally met to try and work out a plot—the idea was that we would write a chapter each—but in the end my friend Susan [Harrison] and I did all the writing" -- the third edition, curiously, omits Harrison's name from the front cover, leaving Bronson's alone.

The plot revolves around escalating abuse of a 14-year-old Black teenager: "The idea for Lena was that she was in a way nothing, or no one at all. She does not speak once during the entire book; she has no essential character of any sort, and she acts only as a kind of receptacle for other people’s fantasies, including those of the reader." Due to Bronson's stature in the art world and the book's consquent stature as a cult novel, LENA's racism and misogyny have frequently been interpretively elevated into 'provocation,' in spite of uncritically replicating a number of fairly standard pornographic tropes of the '60s and '70s. Bronson himself remarked that the novel predated "political correctness," which is true enough, though irrelevant.

[All quotations above from Art in America, interview with Bronson by Asher Penn (2009).]

LENA Venus Library V-1037 K.

Price: $75.00

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