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December 2013

Writing from the Oulipo

Image: Killoffer, "La Manif," 2009, Graphite on Paper 48 x 63 cm, Courtesy of Galerie Anne Barrault

This month we're showcasing the sparkling innovations in form and literature produced by the members of the Oulipo. The Paris-based literary collective explores how literature might arise from structures, rules, and constraints, working within restrictions—alphabetical, narrative, rhythmic, metric—to set genres and language loose. Ian Monk's tour of an apartment building maintains a strict numeric unity in lines and words. Olivier Salon travels through a gradually dwindling alphabet. Michèle Métail claims a chain of possessives, and Anne F. Garréta offers a rogue reading of Proust. In playing with poetic forms, Jacques Bens finds sonnets easy as pi, and Jacques Jouet extends the sestina. And François Caradec's aphorisms offer less than meets the eye. Guest editor and translator Daniel Levin Becker provides a useful key to the considerations at play in both French and English versions. Join us in marveling at the verbal gymnastics of the writers, and at the dazzling ingenuity of the translators.

Our feature presents writing from Sudan, as Max Shmookler introduces three stories of estrangement by Nagi Al-Badawi, Adil al-Qassas, and Sabah Babiker Ibraheem Sanhouri. And we're delivering the second installment of Sakumi Tayama's "Spirit Summoning," in which a pair of fraudulent mediums deliver unexpected results.

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Book Reviews

Guillermo Rosales’s “Leapfrog & Other Stories”

Reviewed by Elisa Wouk Almino

"Leapfrog & Other Stories" is the last of what’s left of the Cuban writer Guillermo Rosales.

Robert Walser’s “A Schoolboy’s Diary”

Reviewed by George Fragopoulos

There is an inevitable period of adjustment when reading the work of Robert Walser.

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