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William Howe:

Tailspin Press
418 Richmond, #2
Buffalo NY, 14222


This is the first "book" from a brand new press. Tailspin's project will be to challenge the notion of what a book is, that is the form of a book itself. Tailspin will produce concrete chapbooks. This first offering by William Howe arrives in an envelope and appears to be ordinary until one opens the "book." The pages not only turn towards the right but alternate pages turn towards the left. It is as if two books collided. This allows the free floating text on the alternate pages to reform endlessly. There is no narrative poetry enclosed. Words are grouped in clusters and as the pages combine and recombine there is a fluctuating constellation or word units. Here is a map of words that leads to the imagination.--Mike Basinski

The first in a new series of chapbooks devoted to exploring the physical possibilities of the chapbook format. The pages of this book are folded over each other, so that opening the book is like opening a series of doors, each of which changes the layout of the words in front of the reader. The words themselves are angry stutters of pun-filled language ("sometimes i change my/ mem(shoes) ory" arranged in striking visual fragments; the eye roves around the surface of the pages instead of reading from top to bottom. The constantly changing field of words resists all attempts at unity, a visual tripflea in a long dark night of the soul.--Mark Wallace

TRIPFLEA's readers can't escape their responsibility for the order of the text they read -- but this is hardly a solemn responsibility. Howe separates and isolates letters, words, phrases, and spreads these fragments across the page; deformations, klang associations, and polyglot puns yield the "well puteed achaeans," the "wallaby wannabe," the "meatbook," and "laus methedrine hydrochloride." This is the sort of book that will make me think of Raymond Queneau's permutational sonnet sequence Cent mille milliards de poe`mes, but there's a difference in Howe's work. The mathematician Queneau's work is generated from the formal structures of the sonnet, while the reader, who would need a minimum of 190,258,751 years to read through the complete sequence, is in effect made redundant. Once the permutational principle is grasped, everything of importance has been grasped. Howe, on the other hand, leaves much less room for textual permutations (his unit is the whole page, while Queneau's was the line). What's foregrounded, instead, is the reader's work with the text Howe, as "simulated authorial figure," has put together. But Howe (unlike Queneau) is very present in this book; the reader will have to struggle with him in order to redirect the text. And just as that struggle reaches its peak, the text itself will jump many times its height into the air and land where you didn't expect it to. Future concrete chapbooks from tailspin press will include work by Ken Sherwood (of RIF/T) and Michael Basinski.--Charlotte Pressler

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This review originally appeared in TapRoot Reviews #5,
Copyright Burning Press 1994, 1996.

Contact the editor, luigi-bob drake, at Burning Press