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The Crack Magazine

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Walking Through Clear Water in a Pool Painted Black by Cookie Mueller

Packing as much into a day as most people pack into a year this is a grab bag selection of pre social media stories and snapshots of a life from the kind of author and underground legend who has sadly become extinct. There will be no more writers like Cookie Mueller just as there will be no more actors like Divine or directors like John Waters. The underground life is now over, ruined by a social media which wears over exposure and cheap thrills like a badge of honour and a mainstream media which, at heart, rebuffs anyone seen as a disagreeable threat to a priggish and prissy conservative liberality - and makes Walking Through Clear Water in a Pool Painted Black read like a book from another time. Films, like life experiences and friends, are made on the run, sex, drink and drugs a way of keeping up the momentum and blocking out the ugly moments of precarious living. Near the end, as AIDS cuts a swathe through her people, one gets the impression that Cookie’s life is still being lived on the margins, though New York has become a base from where, through her writing, she can give advice, celebrate the underground, salute her friends and heroes (Jean-Michel Basquiat, Nan Goldin, Andy Warhol etc) and write her life, the best bits of which are compiled in this book. Oh, and for those doubters of my opening statement about what can be packed in a day, how about starting the day meeting the Manson girls, attending an LSD party, getting a ride with The Grateful Dead, escaping the clutches of a satanist, getting raped by a stranger and ending the night “talking about aesthetics, Eastern Philosophy, Mu, Atlantis and the coming of the apocalypse”, and there’s plenty more exhausting, terrifying and, for Cookie, if not the reader, strangely exhilarating days from where this comes from. Hard to believe Cookie Mueller ever made into her forties (just), but this utterly fearless and stunning book shows how.

Walking Through Clear Water in a Pool Painted Black– Cookie Mueller – publ. Canongate - £10.99

Steven Long