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Isham Cook

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Lust & Philosophy – Literary Fiction

To track down Cookie, an elusive woman fleetingly glimpsed around his Beijing neighborhood, expat Isham Cook employs tips from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Simone Martini’s painting of the Annunciation and Louis Althusser’s Lenin and Philosophy. Meanwhile, Luna, a woman of flamboyant sexuality who invites her dinner guests into bed, assists Isham in the seduction of a third beauty of ambiguous Asiatic ethnicity, Adalat. But revelations from the philosopher of parody Jean Baudrillard begin to eat away at reality until Isham can no longer clearly distinguish Luna from Adalat or his own Caucasian identity from the Chinese.

A hypnotic journey of a novel, with idea bombs going off along the way, Lust & Philosophy is mind-rape as literature, a fairytale on acid, and a holographic Rorschach test all in one, and will appeal to fans of Hermann Hesse, Philip K. Dick, J. G. Ballard and other novelists of the uncanny.

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Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000037_00023]

The Exact Unknown and Other Tales of Modern China – Literary Fiction, Satire, Short Stories

A foreign teacher struggles with proper whipping technique on his female student, while another gives his student a mysterious substance known as LSD. In other stories, a sex robot rapes its owner, a female professor trolls cafés minus her underwear, a store clerk softens up a stingy customer with his fist, and a foreigner comprehends all too slowly the home he is visiting is not a family but a scam.

Whether it’s locals colliding with foreigners or with each other on the big chessboard with no rules called China, this pioneering collection of delightfully disturbing tales by one unruly foreigner dredges up comedy blacker than a black hole.

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Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000037_00023]

Massage & the Writer: Essays on Asian Massage – Essays, Travel, Literary Non-Fiction

There is no more schizophrenic pastime than the application of oil to flesh. Whether as bodily relief and relaxation, a means of seduction, or a form of prostitution, massage has long both fascinated and repelled. But what if these contradictory aspects of the practice—the therapeutic and the erotic—were seen as inseparable and integral to it?

Spiced up by travels in the East in search of the ideal massage, bristling with trenchant, provocative essays, Massage and the Writer will appeal to littérateurs and aficionados of radical sexuality, while infuriating the “polite” massage business of New Age spas, aroma oils, and how-to coffee table books—all those with a stake in the strict separation of massage and sex.

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Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00019]

At the Teahouse Cafe: Essays from the Middle Kingdom – Essays, Travel, Literary Non-Fiction

It’s 1949 at Revolutionary University. Chinese students spend all their waking hours in political meetings—when they’re not hauling feces from the latrines to the manure fields. Jump to 2015. Chinese endure endless meetings at the hands of bosses and are required to keep their cellphones on around the clock and pick up at once—or be fined. They live in a technological utopia while enslaved by the same structures of psychological control of over half a century earlier.

Underlying the myth of a “New China” are the contemporary Middle Kingdom’s numerous continuities with its past. In this collection of wide-ranging essays, Cook reaffirms the old adage that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Amazon Smashwords Website

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000037_00023]

American Rococo: Essays on the Edge – Essays, Literary Non-Fiction

What do seashells, obesity, graffiti, and the American ghetto have in common? Nude hot springs and the Japanese theater? Atheists and family-values conservatives? Why do atheists go on religious pilgrimages? How have schools infantilized our understanding of Shakespeare, and the textbook industry conspired to turn our language’s history into agitprop? What is the single most dangerous sexual idea that even the liberated can’t handle?

Ranging across centuries and continents, Cook’s far-flung essays, whether discoursing on the most radical or homespun of topics, are guided by the notion of the “edge.” The edge represents the limits of conventional understanding, the zone beyond stereotypes and groupthink; it is where received ideas are recast in fresh and striking ways.

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