Category:
Literature

November 20, 2015

The First Do-It-Yourself Novel

Composition No. 1 by Marc Saporta was the first-ever do-it-yourself or interactive novel. It was published in French in 1962, and an English translation followed a year later. The novel came in a box, as a set of looseleaf pages. Readers were instructed to "shuffle them like a deck of cards" before reading, so that chance would decide the order of events in the narrative.

image source: Newsweek - Oct 28, 1963



In 2011, Visual Editions came out with an elegantly boxed new edition of the work (available on Amazon). As well as an iPad version of it that automatically shuffles the pages.


Jonathan Coe, reviewing the new edition for the Guardian in 2011, offered this summary of the book's plot:

The story is a flimsy wisp of a thing, really no more than a jumble of fragments. The setting is Paris during the German occupation. The central character is little glimpsed and never named. He has a mistress called Dagmar, a depressed wife (I think) called Marianne, and a young German au pair whom he rapes during the course of the novel, before being injured in a serious car accident.

Coe noted that the British Library had two copies of the original novel, "both, I'm sorry to say, diligently bound by over-zealous librarians (though at least each copy has the pages bound in a different order)."

Posted By: Alex - Fri Nov 20, 2015 - Comments (1)
Category: Literature, Books, 1960's

August 3, 2015

“All you fella die finish!”

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Nothing makes for better reading than white men, savages and explosives.

Read the story here.

Posted By: Paul - Mon Aug 03, 2015 - Comments (2)
Category: Destruction, Literature, Stereotypes and Cliches, 1940's, South Pacific and Polynesia

July 20, 2015

The Embalmed Head of Oliver Cromwell

Marc Hartzman, author of the weird classic God Made Me Do It (featured here on WU back in 2010) is back with a new journey into the bizarre — The Embalmed Head of Oliver Cromwell - A Memoir. Marc writes:

This historical fiction book follows the real history of Cromwell's head through 300 years of posthumous journeys across England (1661-1960), all told from the head's perspective. Imagined anecdotes complement the true historical notes, which include many real historical characters and events, such as the rise of Spiritualism, phrenology, the Elephant Man, surgeon John Hunter, and a lot more. 

Not only is it the first memoir of an embalmed head, but it is also, I believe, the first book to come with a theme song. It was written and performed by singer/songwriter/pianist Stephie Coplan, whose song, “Hey Oliver Cromwell!” is now available on iTunes and Spotify, and here on Soundcloud [below].

The cover was fully illustrated by Brooklyn artist Vi Luong.

More details at the publisher's site: CuriousPublications.com.


Posted By: Alex - Mon Jul 20, 2015 - Comments (3)
Category: Literature, Books

March 10, 2015

The Short Weird Fiction of Guy Benoit

WU-vians with a spare couple of minutes, and who are looking for a wry chuckle or two, would be well advised to check out the flash fiction of Guy Benoit. A small taste below.

A tip o' the chapeau to our WU artist Rick Altergott for the alert.

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Posted By: Paul - Tue Mar 10, 2015 - Comments (0)
Category: Literature, Avant Garde, Reader Recommendation

September 14, 2014

Great Literature for Free!

Paul has decided to embrace the new "work for free" business model of the 21st Century and is giving away one of his books. So get it while you can! It's available as a download either from Barnes and Noble or Amazon (and Amazon UK).

You can read more details about the book and exactly why he's giving it away over at his other blog, The Inferior4.


Chasing the Queen of Sassi
A science fiction story set in one of the oldest cities in the world.
After his wife's death, Rupert decides to change his life and start your journey: he wants to see Matera again, and ends up loving it so much that he decides to move there. But the city is mysterious: who is the beautiful Daeria Bruno that appears and disappears without a trace? And how will the cucibocca's curse affect his life? In a dizzying series of time travels, Rupert will reveal legendary secrets, being at the center of a timeless story.

Posted By: Alex - Sun Sep 14, 2014 - Comments (6)
Category: Literature, Books

February 14, 2014

The Rap Canterbury Tales

You haven't really experienced Chaucer's Canterbury Tales until you've heard the rap version. Performed here by Baba Brinkman.

Posted By: Alex - Fri Feb 14, 2014 - Comments (6)
Category: Literature, Music

December 13, 2013

Red Seal Comics

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Look at the characters featured in this single issue, and ask yourself if this is not the best comic in the history of the universe.

Read the whole issue here.

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Posted By: Paul - Fri Dec 13, 2013 - Comments (3)
Category: Detectives, Private Eyes and Other Investigators, Eccentrics, Literature, Superheroes, Mad Scientists, Evil Geniuses, Insane Villains, Comics, 1940's

September 21, 2013

Antics of the Artists



The filmmaker's home page.

Those wacky, outrageous bohemians!

Posted By: Paul - Sat Sep 21, 2013 - Comments (2)
Category: Aliens, Literature, Movies, Avant Garde, Surrealism, Fictional Monsters

August 20, 2013

A Romany Rhapsody

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I sure wish I could get a ouija board to do all my writing for me!

Read the story here.

Posted By: Paul - Tue Aug 20, 2013 - Comments (8)
Category: Literature, New Age, Superstition, 1920's

August 13, 2013

The Most Boring Books Ever

Back in 1950, Columbia University Press polled hundreds of editors, writers, booksellers, librarians, literary critics, and general readers in order to produce a list of the 10 most boring books among the great classics. The winners were:
  1. Pilgrim's Progress, Bunyan
  2. Faust, Goethe
  3. Don Quixote, Cervantes
  4. Ivanhoe, Scott
  5. Silas Marner, Eliot
  6. Pamela, Richardson
  7. Life of Samuel Johnson, Boswell
  8. Faerie Queene, Spenser
  9. Paradise Lost, Milton
  10. Moby Dick, Melville
Such lists are always entirely subjective. For instance, I would question how anyone could produce such a list and not include anything from French literature. Take Remembrance of Things Past. That has to be up there among the great snoozers of all time.

Posted By: Alex - Tue Aug 13, 2013 - Comments (19)
Category: Literature, Books, 1950's

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Who We Are
Alex Boese
Alex is best known as the curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the weird news "expert" at about.com.

Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.

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