R.I.P. Christine Brooke-Rose
March 27, 2012 11:36 PM   Subscribe

Experimental novelist and critic Christine Brooke-Rose has died. The Guardian has an obituary and an appreciation.

Frank Kermode's review of her last novel (the autobiographical Life, End of) serves as an overview of her life and work. Brooke-Rose herself described her approach and intentions in this in-depth interview with the Review of Contemporary Fiction.

Her novels include:
  • Thru: a "novel about the theory of the novel," notable for its extreme typographical experimentation. It uses a group narrator (a classroom of creative writing students) and explores themes from semiotics, poststructuralism, and narratology.
  • Xorandor: "Jip and Zab are preteen twins who speak a weird, unfamiliar slang and meet up with a talking rock that turns out to be a foreign lifeform from Mars, which they dub Xorandor. They communicate with it using a programming language somewhat akin to BASIC, and they discover it can consume radiation particles. This then spins into a tale of spies, nuclear disarmament, and a disorganized offspring of Xorandor who gets scrambled, decides it is Lady Macbeth, and demands that it and its brethren be given endless radiation or it will create a critical mass and destroy a good part of England." (Thomas M. Disch liked it.)
  • Amalgamemnon: a monologue combining allusions to Greek myth with reflections on the increasingly bureaucratic, technologized, and precarious academic world, using only the future tense and the conditional mood.
  • Next, in which the author "ventures out into the streets to imagine the inner lives and outer wanderings of London's homeless. ... This being a Brooke-Rose novel, there are structural secrets, some of which are revealed by the jacket copy: for instance, there are twenty-six characters, each bearing the name beginning with a different letter of the alphabet, the ten homeless characters spelling out among them the ten letters of the top row of the keyboard (QWERTUIOP)."
posted by twirlip (12 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
she left out the verb "to be"
posted by twoleftfeet at 12:10 AM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Bad day for critics.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:26 AM on March 28, 2012

Oh, sad news. Her work was truly original.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:16 AM on March 28, 2012

posted by looeee at 2:09 AM on March 28, 2012

posted by Trurl at 5:27 AM on March 28, 2012

I'm sorry to hear this. Her writing -- the little, I'm sad to say, I read of it -- was endlessly inventive. She seemed like someone whose work fans of the Oulipo writers, Beckett, Joyce's Finnegans Wake, Donald Barthelme, or even Kathy Acker would want to know better.
posted by aught at 5:52 AM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Shit. I loved her writing and always intended to read more than the little I have. Very sorry to hear this.

posted by languagehat at 6:30 AM on March 28, 2012

I found a copy of "Amalgamemnon" on a take-a-book-leave-a-book in a cafe in Portland, OR and have enjoyed her writing ever since. I'm sad to hear of her death.
posted by CutaneousRabbit at 7:41 AM on March 28, 2012

I had never heard of, but she sounds so delightful (I'm a huge Oulipo/Perec fan), and apparently we have the same birthday!
posted by taltalim at 7:44 AM on March 28, 2012

I hadn't heard of her, but after reading up on her, I'm going to check out some of her works from the library.
posted by LSK at 7:44 AM on March 28, 2012

Just to share-- I had this open in another tab when I saw the post. Frank Kermode's 2006 review of Life, End of, from the LRB.
This enactment of a state of affairs written about by means of the writing itself is a familiar device, related to the obsessive punning. Mention of the pineal gland brings to mind the fact that Descartes placed the soul in it, ‘thus putting de cart before dehors’. Useless to wince flinch stagger; this is all part of the programme and a matter of habit, the result of ‘long familiarity, long love of language and its bones and flesh’.
posted by jokeefe at 7:46 AM on March 28, 2012

And further reading on Brooke-Rose from (Mefi's own) David Auerbach, writing on her novel Xorandor (this review was my introduction to her work).
posted by jokeefe at 7:49 AM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

« Older What a brilliant man!   |   ScHmITt hits the fan Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments