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Showing posts from April, 2014

Nanni Balestrini - You cannot read this novel, unless I lend it to you, as each of the copies contain different iterations of the same text

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Nanni Balestrini, Tristano: A Novel, Trans. by Mike Harakis, Verso Books, 2014.

This book is unique as no other novel can claim to be: one of 109,027,350,432,000 possible variations of the same work of fiction. Inspired by the legend of Tristan and Isolde, Tristano  was first published in 1966 in Italian. But only recently has digital technology made it possible to realise the author’s original vision. The novel comprises ten chapters, and the fifteen pairs of paragraphs in each of these are shuffled anew for each published copy. No two versions are the same. The random variations between copies enact the variegations of the human heart, as exemplified by the lovers at the centre of the story.
The copies of the English translation of Tristano  are individually numbered, starting from 10,000 (running sequentially from the Italian and German editions). Included is a foreword by Umberto Eco explaining how Balestrini’s experiment with the physical medium of the novel demonstrates ‘that or…

Myfanwy Collins - Is there hope within even the darkest hearts? A woman has sex with her dead mother's husband. A child sleeps in a makeshift nest. A sister betrays a sister. A woman takes on the persona of a dead prostitute

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Myfanwy Collins, I Am Holding Your Hand, PANK Books, 2013.myfanwycollins.com/ Is there hope within even the darkest hearts? A woman has sex with her dead mother’s husband. A child sleeps in a makeshift nest. A sister betrays a sister. A woman takes on the persona of a dead prostitute. All are in search of that which eludes them: an acknowledgment of a shared past, the fulfillment of a secret desire, a tenuous connection made whole. Within I Am Holding Your Hand an array of tender, stark, authentic, and sometimes very lost souls discover a reason to live through their capacity to see beauty in the everyday and instead of coming to conclusions, they discover a way to begin again. I Am Holding Your Hand is a heartfelt collection of deaths: deaths of people, dreams, love, and hope. In this gritty collection, Myfanwy Collins gives voice to characters learning to live on despite such deaths. Characters who often act badly, but who are all the more believable and sympathetic because of thei…

Megan Milks invokes and employs the genre conventions of fan fiction on, for example, Kafka’s Metamorphosis and teen comedies, then mixes in young adult novels, video games, choose-your-own adventure tales, epistolary novels, gothic tales, family romances, and “traumarama” entries, until this melee of genres interrupt each other, parasite each other, distort each other

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Megan Milks, Kill Marguerite and Other Stories. Emergency Press, March 2014.
Kill Marguerite and Other Stories collects thirteen risk-taking stories obsessed with crossing boundaries, whether formal or corporeal. Narrative genres are giddily mongrelized: the Sweet Valley twins get stuck in a choose-your-own-adventure story; Mean Girls-like violence gets embedded within a classic video game. Protagonists cycle through a series of startling, sometimes violent, changes in gender, physiology, and even species, occasionally blurring into other characters or swapping identities entirely. One woman metamorphoses into a giant slug; another quite literally eats her heart out; a wasp falls in love with an orchid; and a Greek god impregnates a man’s thigh with a sword. More than just a straightforward celebration of the carnivalesque, though, these fictions are deeply engaged, both critically and politically, with the ways that social power operates on, and through, queer bodies.
The stories in M…