in the Treetops
full text, 132 pp: pdf
lower res pdf files, about 1mb each:
Ron Padgett and Tom Veitch
Coach House Press, 1970 (rpt. 1973)
PEPC Edition 2009
cover: George Schneeman
© 2009 Ron Padgett and Tom Veitch
A Note on Antlers in the Treetops
Tom Veitch and I wrote Antlers in the Treetops in the
late 1960s. We had already written short stories and a science
fiction novel together, taking turns at the same typewriter,
but Antlers was something of a departure.
As far back as 1963 Tom and I had been experimenting with artistic
appropriation (as it’s now called), inspired by our discovery
of Duchamps’ found objects, Schwitters’ collages,
Tzara’s cut-ups of newspaper articles, Burroughs’ more
developed cut-ups, and the cento. We did not think of our plagiarism
as nefarious, though it did seem a bit subversive; in one case
I took a poem by Stephen Crane and changed a single word in it.
In writing Antlers we followed a procedure: each of us
collected paragraphs that we happened to find in our ordinary
reading, snippets from fiction, nonfiction, journalism, letters,
whatever. Choosing whatever struck our fancies, we made no distinctions
between high and low literature. After one of us had “enough” of
these, he mailed them to the other, whose job it was to select
and arrange them in a sequence that seemed to make sense and
to lightly revise them for continuity. Then this second person
would mail that section to the first person, along with a batch
of new found material for the first peson to work with to the
continue what I will call the narrative (a forward motion not
unlike that of de Chirico’s Hebdomeros). We went
back and forth like this until we decided that the first draft
was finished, then we both lightly revised the entire text.
The main thing I recall about writing Antlers is that
it was a lot of fun to get manila envelopes full of paragraphs
from Tom (who was in San Francisco) and that my head got amusingly
bent out of shape every time I worked on it. Also, throughout
the process (and to some degree subsequently) everything I read
became heightened, a potential source of grist for our mill.
(In fact we called our snippets “grist.”)
Then all we needed was a title—a found title, moreover.
I think it was I who, remembering the childish jokes based on
imaginary book titles (The Little Golden Stream by I.
P. Freely, Under the Grandstand by Seymour Butts, the Tiger’s
Revenge by Claude Balls, etc.), chose one of the lesser-known
and certainly less clever ones, Antlers in the Treetops (by
Who Goosed the Moose).
Not long afterward, Victor Coleman at Coach House Press generously
offered to publish the novel. The first edition (1970) bore a
black-and-white cover drawing by George Schneeman, taken from
an illustration for a pulp fiction crime story. When this printing
of 1,000 copies sold out, someone else at Coach House decided
to reprint the book (with a different cover), but neglected to
alert Tom and me, so the typographical errors of the first printing
were perpetuated in the second. The new editor also failed to
change the cover design credit on the copyright page, wrongly
attributing the new art to Schneeman.
Errata Sheet for Antlers in the Treetops
(Corrected lines are as shown below)
page 4, line 19:
sequence of steps is to: stand more or less erect and wet the
page 4, line 24:
height of the basin) is determined, on the one hand, by the
page 33, line 29:
moments, then raised her pistol and dug her heels into him
page 34, line 14:
there, supine on the desert floor. Her canyon bottom. Stud
page 55, like 5:
He is convinced that when a woman is present, let alone four
page 61, line 29:
lovely breats with tear fluid, licking the postage stamp of her
page 63, line 12:
like a Hercules who has been ordered to make an incision
page 64, line 8:
to know the three different noises made by nightjars.
page 70, title line:
ANTLERS IN THE TREETOPS
page 105, line 8:
morrow is the millennium and one-third of the world will perish.
—Compiled by Tom Veitch