Arnold Skemer

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Arnold Skemer, born 1946, is an American novelist and publisher. He was born in the Bronx on the Grand Concourse, moved to Queens in 1957, and graduated from Queens College in 1968.

As publisher

Skemer has operated Phrygian Press since 1985, specializing in innovative fiction such as Metafictions by Richard Kostelanetz, and poetry luch as E.S.P. by Alan Catlin. He also publishes ZYX (begun in 1990), a small xerographic magazine that publishes poetry, short fictions, commentary on innovative fiction and small press matters, and reviews. It appears 2-3 times a year.

As author

He is the author of the following novels:

  • The Famine (1985)
  • C (1992)
  • The Occupation (1995)
  • B (1996)
  • Momus (A Novella in a Box) (1997)
  • The Ruins of the City (1998)
  • Investigations of the Cyberneticist (1999)
  • E (2002)


Recurrent themes in his work include the nature of the State, the paradoxes of history, the sickness implicit in the human psyche, the limitations of the individual on "a lunar landscape of nothing," the nightmares of the world, all delivered in a cool and distant formality.

Early work (surrealist phase)

The Famine: India reels towards nuclear self-destruction in a nightmarish scenario of apocalyptic visions.

The Occupation: A city in southern France during the German occupation, the savage hatred, the seething fury, the crimes of the polity in a state of total moral decay.

Later work

C, D, B, and E are novellae constituting part of a projected larger work entitled ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ. Each volume is complete in itself, yet is part of a unity in the larger work. It starts from the author's conception and embryonic development (A) and ends with his death and decomposition (Z). F, G, H and I are in process, each 56-64 pages. A-Z is projected for completion by 2020.

Momus is a novella-in-a-box meant to be read in random order. Each page is separate. This concept is sometimes refered to as a shuffle book.

Investigations of the Cyberneticist is a chapbook fiction about a defective intellectual.

Aside from his work on A-Z, approximately 15-20 other works are also in progress. His fiction tends toward the novella length.