'Shuffle the pages like a game of cards'
November 15, 2012 1:54 PM   Subscribe

Shuffle Literature and the Hand of Fate: an article about aleatory literature— including mention of Marc Saporta’s Composition No. 1; B. S. Johnson’s The Unfortunates; Robert Grenier’s Sentences and Herta Müller’s Der Wächter nimmt seinen Kamm.
posted by misteraitch (6 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
I love me some Sentences, but holy cow are those some crappy quality jpg pictures of the box set. And coincidentally just yesterday listened to the episode of Al Filreis's Poem Talk podcast where they talked about a couple random cards from Sentences (well, maybe not random; they were ones that Pennsound had recordings of Grenier performing).
posted by aught at 2:02 PM on November 15, 2012

How could they leave out Raymond Queneau's Cent Mille Milliards de Poèmes?

And the Oulipo!?
posted by chavenet at 3:33 PM on November 15, 2012

Robert Coover wrote a shuffleable story (on preview, also mentioned in the article) presented on a set of oversized playing cards for McSweeny's 16. He also wrote The Universal Baseball Association, which is about someone creating a story as an unintentional side effect of playing a dice-simulated baseball league (in its own way very Oulipian).
posted by 23 at 4:36 PM on November 15, 2012

Tom Phillips also describes his A Humument as a "shufflable" work.

I am also thinking about Julio Cortazar's Hopscotch, where the author provides instructions for an alternate sequence of reading the novel's chapters and recommends the reader invent his or her own sequence.

Also, mentioned before on Mefi, Geoff Ryman's hypertexty study of characters web-site-slash-novel (there was a print version as well) 253.
posted by aught at 6:43 AM on November 16, 2012

chavenet—Notwithstanding omissions it’s still as thorough a discussion of this type of publication as I’ve seen. Besides Cent Mille Milliards de Poèmes, are there other Oulipian works that could be considered ‘shufflable’? Queneau’s ‘A Story As You Like it’ / Un Conte a votre facon, perhaps—although that seems closer to a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ format.

aught—Jonathan Coe mentions Hopscotch (as well as Milorad Pavić’s Landscape Painted with Tea) in his review of Composition No. 1 that I meant to include in the post. Those photos of Grenier’s Sentences are indeed hard on the eyes.

Also: a couple of arrangements of the cards in Richard Hefter and Martin Moskof’s Shufflebook; a couple of pages by Eric Zimmerman about his & Nancy Nowacek’s Life in the Garden; and, not mentioned in the article, Francis Nenik’s novel XO; & Aka Morchiladze’s Santa Esperanza.
posted by misteraitch at 8:24 AM on November 16, 2012

I have an amazing outsize French storybook with fairytale/mythic tones, with shufflable loose-leaf pages, and the damn thing is in a box somewhere and I can't remember what it's called or which box it's in. Sorry.

This may be a moment, now that nobody is reading this thread any more, to mention that my own contribution to the shufflable storytelling field, the card-game Once Upon a Time, has just come out in a spiffy third edition.
posted by Hogshead at 3:46 PM on November 21, 2012

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