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.
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)."
This new book by Edward Brooke-Hitching looks like a good read (Amazon link), and potentially of interest to WU readers. From the publisher's blurb:
Have you ever wondered what people did for fun throughout history? Edward Brooke-Hitching began to wonder the same thing while flipping through an eighteenth-century German book on hunting, and found a bygone sport in which German nobles launched foxes into the air. This random discovery of a game that slipped through the mainstream historical cracks led him to wonder: how many other sports have been left out of modern history accounts?
It looks like it was released first in the UK with the title Fox Tossing, Octopus Wrestling, and Other Forgotten Sports. But for the US release, the publisher dropped the "Octopus Wrestling" from the title. Why? I think the longer title is better. Perhaps they thought the idea of octopus wrestling was too weird for us Americans. Or perhaps they figured that Americans don't read much, so we need a shorter title.
The story of this Xmas scammer--as summarized in this article--strikes me as eminently weird, and is detailed at length in the book linked to below. I trust an author whose other publication is the "Weird-o-Pedia."
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.
Dr. Peter Steincrohn's 1969 book (available used on Amazon) promised to reveal how one could be "lazy, healthy, & fit." For years before he published the book, Steincrohn had also been writing newspaper columns in which he promoted his formula for health. The secret was girdles.
He felt that all men over 40, in particular, should be wearing girdles just like their wives (this was the 1960s), because he believed that girdles promoted good circulation and thus meant the heart didn't have to work as hard pumping blood. Wearing a girdle, he promised, would "add years to a man's life."