Restrictions

March 10, 2008 at 10:07 pm (read, watch)

J. Robert Lennon (author of Pieces for the Left Hand…in related news, I e-mailed him a few days ago to tell him that I love that book, and he wrote back the next day thanking me and revealing that his grad school roommate had gone to Pomona and used to be in the brochure with bizarre mutton-chop sideburns) runs a blog for experimental writing called the LitLab that I just started reading, although posting has been slow lately. Hopefully it will pick up soon.

The way it works is that authors set themselves up with restrictions or specific challenges (kind of like how Lars von Trier did for Jorgen Leth in The Five Obstructions (2003), for which Leth re-made his old short film “The Perfect Human,” five times. Watch the original film below).

As an example, take the very short story, in Czech, by Lida Sobkova, in which every letter starts with the letter “p.” Then we read it translated into English. Here’s an excerpt:

“Prší. Pátek patnáctého prosince. Pošmourné počasí protíná polední pauzu. Pozdní podzim povzbuzuje pápěří pampelišky poletovat. Plnicí pero popsalo papír poletujíjcí pod podloubím. Proslulý proutník Pavel provází podél podloubí pihovatou Pavlínu. Proč právě Petra? Proradný prostopášník povalil Pavlínu pod platan, poodhalil Pavlínin pihovatý pupík. Pořád poprchává. Pavlína promrzla. Pojď popijeme pro pohodu. Pokračují paloukem, přicházejí k pohostinství „Pod Pařezem.“ ”

I like the attention to the visual aesthetics of writing, not just how it sounds or what it means. To find out what it means, go to the LitLab.

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