uncertain cities

words and sequences of them by Rhett Davis

Reading: Composition No. 1 by Marc Saporta

Apparently the first "book-in-a-box". Written in the early 60s, it's a bunch of looseleaf pages that can be read in any order. I like these sorts of things, and I'm writing and reading about them a lot at the moment. I think B.S. Johnson did this more successfully a few years later in The Unfortunates. The device that Johnson uses - the same start and end page - helps anchor us and frames the narrative. Saporta's work doesn't quite convey the same sense of meaning (it's also, to put it nicely, distasteful in parts). For me, this is an example of form that works against the reader, rather than with them. Does it need to be coherent? Maybe not. But the few discussions I've read about the work mention only its appearance and the experience of reading it. Few mention what Saporta might have actually been trying to say, and to me that says a lot.