Chapter A

April 23, 2012 § Leave a comment

an excerpt

– Christian Bök

Both of these paragraph-stanzas are taken from Eunoia, Bök’s univocalic magnum opus. Each chapter (there are five) uses one vowel, exhausts the lexicon of eligible words, and must contain, as described by Bök, “a culinary banquet, a prurient debauch, a pastoral tableau, and a nautical voyage” among several other things.

Eunoia‘s musicality and shifting rhythms are apparent. Its allusions and in-jokes reward re-reading. Beyond these things, though, one notices that each chapter — each vowel — has a distinct texture. “Chapter A” is the result of a radical fatwa against paragraphs that use vowels other than A, and as it chronicles Hassan’s ambulatory adventures, the reader realizes that A is a no-nonsense sort of letter most suitable for war stories and acts of ultra-violence. Even the above selections, with all of their food and music talk, approach their subjects in a reserved manner. E, I, O, and U would later unleash the loopiness.

“A gangland fad that attacks what Brahms and Franck call art” must be Bök’s preemptive jab at myopic critics who dismiss the kind of experimentation contained in Eunoia.


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