David Wojnarowicz, Sounds in the Distance, 1982

David Wojnarowicz, "Sounds in the Distance." Edited by Max Blagg. London: Aloes Books, 1982.

David Wojnarowicz, “Sounds in the Distance.” Edited by Max Blagg. London: Aloes Books, 1982.

Sounds in the Distance is a compilation of monologues that David Wojnarowicz collected during his travels in the late 1970s and early ’80s.

The book contains 35 stories of marginalized people living on the edge of the “pre-invented world,” who David met at pit stops across the United States. Each is a visceral, intimate tale told in the voice of a stranger, such as the 21-year-old sex worker threatening to ditch New York City’s Time Square, the paranoid Vietnam veteran contemplating reincarnation in a San Francisco hotel, and the Kentucky truck driver passing through the Rockies, who recounts tales of sex on the road.

Sounds in the Distance was first distributed as a xeroxed zine, in 1978, with an introduction by downtown nightlife icon Brian Butterick. In 1982, poet Max Blagg republished Sounds in the Distance with alternative press Aloes Books, in London, with an introduction by William S. Burroughs. Some of the monologues were also published under the title “Monologues for the Stage from ‘Sounds in the Distance’ by David Wojnarowicz” in Bomb 8, Winter 1983; they were adapted for the theater by Bill Rice that same year. The Turmoil theater company (founded by Rice, Allen Frame, and Kirsten Bates) performed the monologues, with Nan Goldin as one of the performers. 

After David’s death, Sounds in the Distance was reissued by Grove/Atlantic Press, in 1996, as The Waterfront Journals. Amy Scholder edited and wrote the introduction for this later edition.

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