Announcing Othello Blues

Harold Jaffe’s revised futurist novel Othello Blues will be published by JEF Books in December 2013.  Please stay tuned for publication news, and browse the contents below.  Critics have said:

Othello Blues is a classic.

Nobody does what Jaffe does.  There are just pale imitations.

                                          –Derek Pell

Cover visual by Norman Conquest.


A Novel by Harold Jaffe

In memory of Robert Johnson, bluesman, 1912-1938


Gillette Gillette: A corporate money manager
Otis Crawford: [Black] blues musician, founder of Crawfish / insurrectionist
Iago: A blues musician / Machiavel
Michael Cassio: [Cajun] blues musician
Desdemona: Daughter to Gillette Gillette / wife to Otis
Son Chatmon: [Black] blues musician
Rosetta Nurse: [Black] insurrectionist / mistress to Son Chatmon
Emily: Mistress to Iago
Blanca: [Puerto Rican] ‘exotic dancer’ / mistress to Cassio
Jim Bob: An out-of-work musician / gulled by Iago
Baum: [Jewish] booking agent for Crawfish
Swen: A restaurateur / mocker of Iago
The Body : [also known as the corporate fathers]
The Godfearers
The mega-rich in their bunkers
The miscellaneous poor

Scene: The U.S. dominion
Time: 20 minutes into the future


Were I the Moor, I would not be Iago

Prison Ferries

I’ll pour this pestilence into his ear

Rosetta Nurse

I took by the throat the circumcised dog

Nay, it is true, or else I am a Turk

Rosetta Nurse

Oh monstrous world! Take note, take note

Rosetta Nurse

Iago and Cassio on Pretoria Street



Butcher Love

What follows is an excerpt from a work in progress, called “Orlando.” Enjoy.*

* Please leave comments and responses, and – if so inclined – share with other fiction readers.


Butcher Love

Slaughtered stock animals hang from their hooves.

The SM dungeon club in the meat district on Gansevoort in Greenwich Village north is nouveau-chic.

Males pony up $30, fems admitted without charge.

Indeterminate genders? You’ll have to check with the management.

Butchers and assistant butchers have blood on their aprons, beneath their fingernails, on their thick shoes, the same shoes NYC cops wear.

To “protect and serve.”

The SM joint opens at midnight and goes deep into the dawn hours.

My invite comes from a friend of a friend of a friend who works for Google.

Google reportedly owns the club and sister clubs in Soho, Chelsea, and upper Broadway just north of Columbia University.

Just south of Harlem.

Is there still a “Harlem”?

Didn’t Columbia buy up Harlem and evict the tenants?

They weren’t tenants, they were welfare cheats, freeloaders, crackheads.

Sure, they’re black. What can I tell you?

The club is called Genet, as in Jean Genet.

French homo-masochist, prideful petty thief, anarchist, celebrated author.

Rolled with the Black Panthers, later with the Palestinians.

Google’s SM clubs are Genet 1, Genet 2, Genet 3, Genet 4.

The joint in the meat district on Gansevoort is Genet 2, the most popular of the four.

It’s the ambiance.

Stock animal blood on the concrete floor.

Though it’s stormy Monday Genet 2 is rocking.

Naked males crawling on the concrete, whimpering, knees and elbows bloody.

Naked or nude?


Dominatrices with whips and paddles.

Clusters in various stages of undress groping.

Above the concrete “arena” on three sides are wooden bleachers; I’m sitting in one.

The designer-rough arena resembles a much larger version of an MMA cage.

Mixed Martial Arts.

You’ve probably noticed it on TV between commercials.

Steroidal young men with shaved heads, bad tats and cauliflower ears manically grappling and kicking.

Several of the meat outlets on Gansevoort label themselves kosher.

PETA records that a kosher slaughterhouse in Iowa produced at least “300 instances of inhumane slaughter, in which fully conscious cows, hung upside-down, had their sensitive muzzles shocked with electric prods, had their tracheas and esophagi ripped from their throats with meat hooks or knives, as they writhed in pools of their own blood, moaning, trying desperately to stand for up to three minutes as blood streamed from their throats.”

Jewish animal death scholars insist that traditional kosher slaughter is the least inhumane of all stock animal murders.

Why pick on kosher?

Yet another species of anti-Semitism?

I am strictly an observer, and one scene has stayed with me.

A middle-aged couple is sitting in the bleachers above me holding hands when the male, thin / pale, separates himself, descends into the arena, removes his clothes, is bound to a pole and flogged by an extremely tall masked dominatrix in ebony leather with a cat o’ nine tails.

She resembles Grace Jones.

She may be Grace Jones.

She flogs him mercilessly on the lower back, buttocks, thighs . . .

He whimpers.

Stock animals whimper.

They shriek in pain.

Dolphins shriek in pain in a register we cannot hear.

So do rabbits, commonly ignored by humans.

So do even smaller animals and amphibians.

The injured goldfinch I’m cupping in my hands.

Tune in, turn on, hear them scream, shriek, whimper.

The pale male whimpers and screams, he bleeds from his buttocks.

It looks like blood.

I glance up at the woman, his other half.

She observes without expression.

After a delirious 20 minutes he is released.

And now I smell shit, vaguely–it could be a participant’s cologne.

Or savory remnant of slaughtered stock animals.

The calf, dead, released finally into the suffering animal afterworld.

Infinitely above human kind.

I am impressed that the pale male, bleeding, naked, dragging his clothes, is embraced tenderly by his female companion.

He broadcasts his “weakness,” whimpers like a tormented calf, shrieks like a tortured rabbit, and the woman (she wears sunglasses, I can’t see her eyes) kisses him tenderly, sensually on the mouth.

Othello Blues revisited

Trying to republish my revised version of Othello Blues which came out in a limited edition in the late 90s and received a very favorable critical reception.

Out of print and rewritten, Othello Blues is a speculative novel set “20 minutes into the future,” with attention paid to a kind of syncopated rhythm, in which the Othello gang — Othello, Iago, Cassio, Desdemona — have been turned into blues musicians in a broken world resembling this one. Lots of blues lyrics that I’ve conceived and, though following the original Othello trajectory, easy to read.