Surfaces and Masks

Poetry by Clarence Major

August 1, 1988 • 6 x 9 • 128 pages • 978-0-918273-43-7

A book-length poem by an African-American author that uses the city of Venice as its backdrop, considering issues of racial and national identity. By the author of My Amputations.

In Surfaces and Masks, Clarence Major becomes heir to the great tradition of the “American-goes-to-Europe” novels of James and Twain. Major is a pointillist, impressionist, and breakneck historian, creating a tapestry that utilizes and satirizes his chosen subject, Venice. With the same unstoppable intelligence that inspired his award-winning novel, My Amputations, he creates a thoroughly modern picture of this glittering, grandiose swamp. A multifaceted portrait in a funhouse mirror, Surfaces and Masks becomes a reevaluation of what it means to be an American and a black writer in this century, while surrounded by the decay of the past.


“Infinitely durable and effortlessly inventive, Clarence Major as a first-rate poet and novelist, superscout of the avant-garde, continues his inspection and commentary on the world at large. In Surfaces and Masks, we find him cantering among the canals and Canzoni of Venice like Deadwood Dick in the Badlands. ‘I come around the comer like a man who simply wants to live (this other guy comes around like a man who expects too much).’” —Independent Publisher