The Pink Trance Notebooks reviewed in Artforum

Brian Dillon on The Pink Trance Notebooks

"...At times, The Pink Trance Notebooks sounds like that great litany of vintage queer and near-queer interludes, Joe Brainard’s slyly prosaic I Remember (1970), except that Koestenbaum’s swish-kid memory flashes are also excuses for lexical oddity and delight. “We saw Marnie / with a boy just entering puberty— / he hugged the dog while / Tippi Hedren underwent / frigid conniptions, hair / designed by Alexandre de Paris.” “Frigid conniptions” manages to sound both fabulous and strictured—those four upright little i’s—and thus of a piece with the anxious, attentive young WK we’re asked to picture elsewhere: the boy who couldn’t master a cursive Z, who “thought poop was / Satan.”

If you haven’t noticed by now: Here is one of the most flirtatious writers around. The Pink Trance Notebooks is in part a deadly serious reflection on the stakes of flirtation in life and on the page—“fear of / non-flirtation, abyss (le / néant) of non-flirtation.” (Could there be a move more alluringly provocative than to introduce a line break into the void?) Koestenbaum has written brilliantly on Andy Warhol and Roland Barthes, gay men who in their different ways turned the reality of sex and seduction into something distanced, matte, and melancholic. He’s learned from their methods—blank repetition, doleful anatomy—but writes about sex more joyfully and more pointedly. Still, discomfort and disappointment are never far away: “supposedly gargantuan / but then it turned out / to be puny,” or “his face in my ass / even if I don’t / want his face / in my ass.” What he shares most with Barthes and Warhol by way of sensibility, however, is a certain diffuse utopianism of flirtatious opportunity: “no wish for sex / with anyone but intense wish / for sex-vibe experienced / randomly with everyone.'"  - Brian Dillon for Artforum