The Death Scene Artist (Novel)

1| A Single Thread

Posted: 11/08/2013

 

I never know who to wear. It doesn’t matter the situation. When I glance inside my closet it’s like nothing fits – like I’ve amassed an entire wardrobe of impractical uses and pointless endeavours. I often don’t know what I was thinking – in what world did I imagine I’d have occasion for an Italian restauranteur with such calloused hands? Or a pale, waiflike artist, a trust-fund baby from SoHo whose fingertips and nails are permanently crusted with oil paint? Or a tall, Black lifestyle and boudoir photographer from just outside of Richmond, Virginia?

Staring at the outfits at my disposal, one hand on the pronounced bone of my hip, my mind stumbles back to the very beginning of this mess. It felt so silly then, to be so . . . excited, I guess. Giddy. Ecstatic. Pulsating with energy and uncertainty, but not in a bad way, not with any degree of anxiety.

Which is all the fucking dumber in retrospect. But hindsight’s a motherfucker. Almost as much as you were.

Few outfits still remain in my wardrobe, hand-stitched composites hung in protective plastic sheaths like the sort you get from the dry cleaner. I take them out every other day and lay them on the floor of my 350-square-foot one-room cockroach hostel, and gently rub them down with a solution of salt and lime to preserve them, keep them pliant, keep them from smelling of dismemberment. Fix whatever I can – wear and tear, gaps where the threading has come loose. Every now and then I’m forced to dig into the scraps I keep soaking in a Tupperware container in the fridge, fishing out a patch of human skin of as similar a tone and texture as possible, though my options are increasingly limited – it’s been some time since I’ve stocked up on swatches, or for that matter full sleeves, and supplies are running low. The work seems more effort now than it ever used to be. I suppose that’s what happens when you get accustomed to doing things not on your fucking own.

Will anyone read this? If I hit post, will this leave any trace or imprint upon the world? If I finish this bottle of Xanax, right now, will I slip into a coma and die before finding out? Inquiring minds, and all that shit.

Fuck it, I’m ready. I’m jumping and you’re coming with me, even if I have to tie a goddamn rope around your neck. We can hit bottom together, bleed, together, until there’s nothing left. Because this isn’t just my story to tell, and I’m absolutely, for-fucking-real, not doing this on my own.

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Advanced Praise:

“From the jaw-dropping opening pages when we meet a protagonist perusing their remarkable inventory of ‘outfits,’ up to the very last page, this novel kept me riveted. This is a wonderful book, surreal, disturbing and liberating in the very best way.”
– Suzette Mayr, author of Monoceros

“Wilmot brings a sensually complete sense of reality to the unreal worlds of on- and off-screen Hollywood. Wilmot’s serious play with language and with form makes The Death Scene Artist a hypnotic, surprising novel that doesn’t sacrifice emotion for irony.”
– Nathan Ripley, author of Find You in the Dark

 

Reviews:

Zuri Etoshia Anderson Reviews The Death Scene Artist (Zuri Etoshia Anderson, Heavy Feather Review, 29/11/2018)
“I think what I appreciate most about this book is the ambiguity of its genre. We are so used to compartmentalizing books and stories into these categories, and I feel like Wilmot is playing those standard publishing conventions. Is this book technically surrealism? Magical realism? Horror? Science fiction-esque? Something else entirely? Who knows. The book has a lot of those conventions, and I’m content with that. Might be poking a little too deep here, but Wilmot may be challenging us to look past genre and categories and at the essence of a novel when it arrives on the shelves: the story.”

Dizzying debut delivers cinematic noir (Alan MacKenzie, Winnipeg Free Press, 24/11/2018)
“Violent and grotesque, this book is not for the squeamish. [T]here is a lot for fans or topical horror and dark comedy. Wilmot clearly has something to say here about our culture’s obsession with celebrity and our desire to overshare online, as well as gender identity and loneliness.”

Starting Out (Becky Robertson, Quill & Quire, November 2018)
“The novel has the tinge of a scandalous revenge story, which adds to its appeal, as does some incisive commentary about the nature of unrequited love and crises of body, gender, and personal identity.”

Andrew Wilmot Tells Brilliant Lies in Bizarre, Surreal Debut Novel (Jay C. Mims, Into the Void, 16/10/2018)
“There is not a single instance in this novel when a reader is going to know with absolute certainty that M____ isn’t lying. And what a compelling liar they are! From the very first page, M____ draws you into these blog posts they’re writing in an attempt to make some semblance of sense of the last few years of their life. They aren’t lying to us, though, but also to themselves. This self-deceit is what makes M____ such a compelling and realistic character in this bizarre, surreal novel. Wilmot, through this gloriously broken character, holds up a cracked mirror to his audience and demands they look because he knows they haven’t been.”

 

Articles:

First Fiction Friday: The Death Scene Artist (All Lit Up, 16/11/2018)
Andrew’s book is featured on First Fiction Fridays.

What We’ll Be Reading This Fall: Editors’ Picks Part One (The Hamilton Review of Books, 10/09/2018)
Andrew’s book is chosen as one that HRB editor Dana Hansen will be reading this fall.

Fall Preview 2018: Staff Picks (Tan, All Lit Up, 07/09/2018)
“This books will be a momentous read for that reason alone. But The Death Scene Artist just happens to be in my favourite literary genre: Body Horror. So, you’d be right to assume that it’s weird in parts. It promises a lot of skin, and a lot of lies… [It] is a perfectly polished nightmare.”

Most Anticipated: Our 2018 Fall Fiction Preview (Kerry Clare, 49th Shelf, 09/07/2018)
“Andrew Wilmot’s first novel is The Death Scene Artist, a psychological tale about the dangers of living for another.”

Debuts: More first-timers to watch for this season (Quill & Quire, Jul/Aug 2018)
“This strange and surrealist tale focuses on a film extra suffering from terminal cancer who recounts a tragic love affair with an actor who died or appeared as a corpse in more than 800 different films. The first novel from writer, editor, and visual artist Wilmot is a study of body dysmorphia and gender dysphoria.”

 

>>The Death Scene Artist, 2018

 

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