Oral Pleasure: Kosinski as Storyteller
These texts bring sharper focus to the themes in his works, making this strikingly erratic individual more accessible. They provide an uncensored portrait of the writer plagued by scandal, whose authenticity was challenged by fierce accusations of plagiarism regarding his seminal novel, The Painted Bird—suspicion that shadowed his career. Oral Pleasure reveals Kosinski as a truly genuine, gifted man of letters.
The material covers different aspects of Kosinski’s eventful life, from his thoughts on Poland and the Holocaust to his experiences with acting and television. He expounds on the difficulties of writing under a totalitarian government and the importance of freedom of speech. He discusses the fine line between fiction and autobiography, the prominent role sex played in his writing and life, the philosophical importance of violence in his novels, and his controversial statements on Jewish identity.
This collection offers new insight into Kosinski’s renowned work, portraying a brilliant storyteller behind the public figure.
comparison. Playing Reds was fun—the childhood action I never had. The only childhood I have now is being an actor in roles. It was very, very inspiring, very funny and creative, and very challenging. But I was disappointed by seeing myself in the film in the final cut. MC: A lot of critics thought you did a terrific job. JK: Yes, but as I was making it, I imagined myself as Gregory Peck. I didn’t want to watch any of the rushes. Everyone thought I was very modest, but I was very vain. I was
dramatic properties—perhaps the best scale to use in fiction—they are equal partners to men and heterosexuals, with “equal time” morally, philosophically, and emotionally. If some of my protagonists in some instances do exercise a state of dominance or sexual submission, they are, equally, men and women, hetero, homo, trans, and bisexual. And if the quality—but not the drama—of the male-inspired acts differs, it is merely to reflect the historically different role of men in the sexual as well as
to write, right away at the university. I began my “writing career,” quote unquote, with nonfiction, which I wrote under a different name because I did not want to discuss it. I wanted my books to be published and to let them do their own work. BG: What name were you writing under? JK: Joseph Novak. As Joseph Novak, I published two books on social science, on collective society, on collective behavior—subjects that I knew quite well and subjects that troubled me. Doubleday published my first
doctor? Do you wait for a night without a moon, so no one can see what you are doing? Imagine just how many people would have to be involved in saving a single Jew. Thirty-five? Forty? Fifty? There is always someone in my audience who stands up and screams at me, “You don’t realize what the Poles have done to us, the Jews! They didn’t help us.” And to this person I say very advisedly, not because I was advised by anyone in particular but because just as much as I brushed elbows with Svetlana
you going to do about this? Are you going to build the necessary housing?” Solidarity, of course, cannot do it alone. Foreign investment is essential. We at PARC decided to approach the government about opening up immediately to such investment. Our hope was to build a Polish-American financial consortium, a consortium so huge that it would wipe out the remnants of the Marxist inefficiency in Poland. We said to the government and to Solidarity—and we said it in very good Polish—that Poland is a