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A.D. Jameson on Christine Brooke-Rose, Contrete Poetry, Novels, and Workshop Satirizing

By Harriet Staff

We have to revisit this story today. At HTML Giant, A.D. Jameson gives a great run-down of all the novels he’s read by Christine Brooke-Rose (there are quite a few, both written by Brooke-Rose and read by Jameson), and he tips us off on how we can navigate this mountain of great writing:

The Omnibus is a good place to start (it was reprinted in 2007.) Out is a political fable set in Africa after a nuclear war, in which whites have become subservient to blacks. Such relates the internal monologue of an astrophysicist in his last few minutes of life. Between describes a professional translator whose marriage is collapsing; the novel freely alternates between English, French, and German, as well as present-moment monologue and idealized love letters. Thru presents itself as the product of a group narrator, a creative writing class whose members keep interrupting and erasing one another as they work to assemble a story:

Her hair is fair or dark, it doesn’t matter except in gothic romanesque now that there are such subtle dyes even within the text. She is pale and sits
Where?
On the campus
Can on sit on a campus?
She sits on a castle terrace in Spain.
Caramba not picaresque that’s as dead as the dread-letter novel.
In Slovenia, talking to the count
Titles have been abolished in Slovenia
turning her back to you. It is a warm summer evening.

As you can see, mostly the class argues over language and its politics. (The book also neatly satirizes writing workshops; more than once its members stop for majority votes.) (As you can also see, Brooke-Rose’s work was, above all, lots of fun.)

Thanks for leading the way, A.D. It sounds fun, indeed!

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Posted in Poetry News on Thursday, March 22nd, 2012 by Harriet Staff.