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Love Street by Susan Perly  

‘Susan Perly lays down a cool, existential get-it-off coda about jazz, sex and digging the Holy Grail. This is Johnny Fever at Mach 2,’ writes Peter C. Newman. Perly’s debut novel is all growled in the voice of lovely Miss Mercy - a sultry late-night radio DJ in New Orleans who has a lo-fi love for jazz.

You have never read a book like Susan Perly’s first novel Love Street. Open it anywhere, and out comes the voice of Miss Mercy, late-night radio DJ in New Orleans with her jive talk and old vinyl platters. Sam Cooke, Percy Mayfield, Marvin Gaye, Van Morrison, Mark Rothko, Robert Motherwell, war, art, peacetime -- Miss Mercy talks to the lonely. She swings, she bebops, growls, prays, plays blues, soul, jazz, R&B. Miss Mercy is the modern woman of all ages. She is lo-fi, urban, mysterious. She is wacky, she cascades sheets of sound. Remember when you used to listen to a radio under your pillow? Love Street is a radio novel from that world. Miss Mercy -- the sultry vinyl pirate, the Mistress of the Mike -- aims to seduce you. To remind you of the fun of words, to woo you back to the love of reading.

Review quote

Love Street is Toronto writer Susan Perly’s first book. In it she fuses her experience as a war correspondent, her considerable opinions on a wide range of subjects and a love of jazz to create the astonishing Miss Mercy. Beware when Miss Mercy says: ‘‘Let me be intimate with you.’’ She means it. There is an intensity to her that embarrasses. You wish you didn’t know about her shingles or what happened in that elevator. You go to turn her off but you can’t, because she’s funny, provocative and cool, because she knows the truth of our condition.’

—Globe & Mail

Excerpt from book

To hear the voice of Miss Mercy ...

: ... ... would a matchbox as Sam Cooke the great Sam Cooke and would a matchbox hold my clothes -- at the Harlem Square Club that Saturday night ’63 ... ... and wondering which way to go?

It is Tuesday or Wednesday of that I am absolutely certain. And yesterday whichever if it was Monday or Tuesday I ran into a man who said.

The man said to me ------

------ ‘I was reading the other day here this The Way of Chuang Tzu translated don’t forget to get the one by Thomas with an h Merton.

‘And there where, baby, it says, -------- ‘‘this man I met at it was the corner of O Y and O V, said to me, said from when that shoe, and said, and when that shoe, he said, and said, ‘‘Don’t forget,’’ he said.

He said, ‘From there where from ‘‘When The Shoe Fits’’ it says and you know it’s so ------, where it says, and it goes something like this:

‘ ‘‘Easy is right. Begin right

‘ ‘‘And you are easy.

‘ ‘‘Continue easy and you are right.

‘ ‘‘The right way to go easy

‘ ‘‘Is to forget the right way

‘ ‘‘And forget that the going is easy.’’ ’

The Anchorite.

    Anchoress.

Hey baby. Yeah. Uh-huh. You know who I’m talking to. You and me baby. That table for two -- that private wavelength you’ve been hoping to dial up on that radio. Sure. You wondered what’s she do in them off the air hours. Baby I’m going to do a little show just for you. Spin you some of my more private platters. This is going out to you know who I’m talking about who I hope you got my message. -- Say I sure hope you sure heard me there last night okay? (Was that a wasp or a love bug going into the wood?) I got my record player suitcase.

And I want to tell you something. Have you ever felt this way? (There you are sister, you’re where you were going) -- Where -- You’re where am I? You’re where am I? You’re How do I get to where I want to go? And then about ten years later you’re, Hey I’m where I was going only I didn’t know it. How come I’m the last one to know? Yeah I’m telling you about it. Okay so along that line, lines here -- here’s some ------------- some, let’s see -------- Roland Kirk. Who which we missed your birthday last week, Mr Kirk, so many happy 59s, to you from belated last Monday ... ... blew me dye yet like -------- Indigo Am I Readyed Yet For Heaven Yet Yet Street like little and you know illicit type faces in a little sound suitcase come out, loud speaking licks ill suited for aught ---- but love. How about a little ‘No Tonic Pres’? Uh-huh ...

a little Tao of the Blues.

Mr Kirk there playing with himself and his tripartite sax agreement out of heaven’s junkyard something to kill us, make us sweet.

I see a big old high babies mother of a pillar out there. Some godly great big bod son of Mr and Mrs Heap out there.

Some days that Mr Kirk’s got three of them fine offspring brethren breathing down pillar clouds of Heapdom down inside his throats, he’s reeding, baby, he’s reeding. May it rain down on us like rolandkirkische saxophones today we would be most grateful, to above. Speaking of the.

Did I ever tell you about the time.

Did I ever tell about the girl once I killed myself on the air where Mr Mayfield plays or we’re saving that for rainy day.

And I‘m going to play you a little something. A pyre which came my way. Now be good children don’t ask too many questions. I’m going to lay some good spare change on some of our nicest most well-behaved peace officers might just be listing here on this particular air-waves. Don’t worry brother I’m not going to tell your baby on you. So the short story’s we’re going to get around to which where the little bread crumb here is the lost pain of it all we’ll get to later.

This is Mercy talking to you in the Ultima Thule. Remember D. J. Tootie? Remember old Eidelon of Evenfall, hisself? Remember The Old Limn-Master? Remember Daddy Dust? Remember Ready Teddy and The Theres? Remember, oh remember it all. Remember Johnny Front now that was a good one. Johnny Front, remember? I always thought of Johnny Front as Mr Front before I knew he was so sweet. He was sweet. Oh saints alive, that man was. Saint Sweet, those times. Remember Mr W.? Mr Big? Remember Doctor Daddy? Now that man had a speculum you did not want on which to on which of to you know what I’m saying here, too much get on that speculum and you’d better ride, best, rather that you’d ever want to go speculate. Remember Professor Preposition? Make that Prep a Prop and you’ll be fine. Remember never mind Daddy Dust remember Daddy Mommawell? Remember Motherwell Springs? Remember Rothko Road? Remember Big Red and The Rot Net? Remember way those ink tushies used to draw you to remember the delicatenesses of the delicate’s delicatessen used to go glow in the night, having dropped their nesses of neon while you essed a Reb Mingus on pastrami. Remember how some days when it was hard to get rid of the sadness, you turned me on at night down by the river’s want you were feeling water on you, we are always in the tears of things. Good morning, babies. It’s so dark out.

You might have found me, -- photograph, daguerreotype, -- self-portrait of me and my noose -- of me out there in some antique or flea, you might have been marcheing the flea baby and found that nice nudie of me, sure.

Good morning, babies. Now. And now we’re back in that dark part of the morning. That darkest part, baby I hope you’re with me today. I think I can feel you out there with me -- and it is so dark out there today, isn’t it. Sure. I know. It’s the dark time of the when the species gets afraid feels afraid. You know -- were feeling bad before weren’t you? -- about 2 - 2:30? About a quarter to three? About quarter after three? But you know baby now’s the real tough time. Now’s the one’s the hardest going to be to get through. That’s right. Stick around, we’re I’m not going anywhere at this end when the human species is afraid to be found awake or even in some found sleep, honey-child when this sky over the human settlement is full of the river and full of the lake. And the sky baby heaven’s sitting mighty low on Miss River. Are you with me baby? I know you’re out there. You’re feeling heaven right now -- aren’t you. I know you’re out there baby. I know you can hear the sound of my voice. And heaven’s saliva don’t you know is wetting down those shutters and those jalousies and the saliva of heaven is busy B & Eng your bed with its fine fettled fog girdles for dreams to dream on. And you can dream on. Dream along with Mercy here -- on Love Street. Stick around whether you’re trying to find a couple zees in the cool of the morning. Maybe you’ve been digging that dark night with St. John of the Cross a long tonight tonight baby and you’ve been saying -------------------- Well just lay boy. Just like Mercy Dog bring you some platters to dream on. For those of you with your heads down in the soup bowl -- okay. Those of you with your heads up on the edge of the bowl -- good for you too. And those of you stepping up there above the level of the sea -- okay. Here’s some Percy Mayfield for those. -- Now why don’t we let -- here’s some Percy Mayfield break and enter your heart right now. Here’s Mr Mayfield. For those of you hurting out there ... ‘Life Is Suicide’... ...

Unpublished endorsement

‘Susan Perly lays down a cool, existential get-it-off coda about jazz, sex and digging the Holy Grail. This is Johnny Fever at Mach 2.’

—Peter C. Newman

Unpublished endorsement

‘This is what midnight radio should sound like; bluesy, sexy and cool.’

—Peter Goddard


authorPic

Susan Perly has worked as a radio producer at CBC. In the early ’80s her Letters from Latin America for Peter Gzowski’s ‘Morningside’ reported from locales such as El Salvador, Guatemala and Chiapas. During the Iran-Iraq war she broadcast Letters from Baghdad. She also produced many documentaries for ‘Sunday Morning’ during that time.

Perly’s short stories have appeared in numerous magazines and in the anthology Hard Times. ‘Jesus and the Toucan’ won second prize in the CBC Literary Competition in 1988 and was dramatized with Don Francks. It was her story, ‘1956: an excerpt’ (about Thelonious Monk and Glenn Gould), which led to the use of jazz as both subject and model in her writing. She has performed parts of Love Street with jazz musicians in Toronto.

Susan Perly lives in Toronto with her husband, the poet Dennis Lee.

The Porcupine's Quill would like to acknowledge the support of the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts for our publishing program. The financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF) is also gratefully acknowledged.

FICTION / Literary

PERFORMING ARTS / General

ISBN-13: 9780889842243

Publication Date: 2001-04-15

Dimensions: 8.75 in x 5.56 in

Pages: 200

Price: $19.95