Tuesday, 11 September 2007

"A science fiction biography? I was baffled."

I read Andre Klimowski's Horace Dorlan on the plane on monday, shoved into my mitt the other day by my pal Best, who co-wrote The Amazing Remarkable Mr Leotard with me (our names were last aligned in print on an Escapist 13 page story a couple of years back). I had read a couple of reviews of the book which attempted to describe the set-up of the plot, about an academic who is to give a seminar in Pisa and late in the process changes the plan to include a jazz band. This implies that the plot is important, which of course it is, but also that it will lead somewhere which of course it does, but not in any way that would satisfy a reader who mistook it for a commonplace story.
Here's a passage I like very much (I've rendered it as it looks in the book, with no paragraph indents, and double spacings between):

'you know, Ed, that I'll do my best, but I can't promise you anything. My contacts are limited to academic circles and your work, from what I can gather from Dr Inzaghi, is more like a novel.'

'It is and it isn't.' Ed started to pace up and down the room, hands clasped together with index fingers resting on his mouth, like a lecturer reflecting on what he had just delivered.

"You could call it a novel, but I prefer to call it a science fiction biography."

'A science fiction biography? I was baffled. What on earth did he mean? I could not understand a word of Ed's attempt to explain this, but, not wanting to upset him, I pretended to follow his line of thought.'
This is another of those books in which we have taken a special interest here at Campbell.blogspot, in which the areas between mediums are blurred. Almost exactly half of the book is prose and the other half is uncaptioned images in the manner of the woodcut novels of the 1920s/30s, of Ward and Masereel etc. and the modes are all mixed together and alternating. Klimowski goes some way to evoking the white-on-black feel of woodcuts though I suspect the effect may have been achieved with the more economical medium of scraperboard. One significant sequence told in prose is later mirrored exactly in sequential images in a different part of the book. There is no linearity here. There are observations which, with no context to otherwise shore them up, we at first take to be metaphorical and then later find to be literal. But then that also is not quite true. There is no 'literal' in this book either.
It is book 'writing' of the highest order, and I'm filing it fondly with the other items under my 'new books' label below.
Here is a great selection of his poster art but the short bio looks faulty. Those posters are gorgeous. I bet my pal John Coulthart has already linked to them. The Royal College bio page looks better: Born in 1949 in London, Klimowski studied painting at St Martins School of Art, London and poster design at Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts. Horace Dorland is described there as a Work in progress... An experimental novel moving from text to pictures and back. The fragmented narrative is full of pathos and black humour, and deals with the loss of hearing.
Paul Gravett on Klimowski's earlier picture novel The Secret
official website with lots of book covers etc

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13 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

wo this book sounds great, definitly going to search it out
lee paul

11 September 2007 7:33:00 am GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ps

http://www.theargus.co.uk/news/localnews/display.var.1679295.0.sleepwalker_orders_a_curry.php

11 September 2007 7:43:00 am GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looks like I'm beating Hayley to mention the series going out on TV here in the UK called 'Comics Britannia'. It's a three part history of the 'medium' (God, I'm having to put inverted commas on everything here just in case I put a foot wrong) with heavy input from Mr Gravett. Last night it was solely about the Beano & the Dandy i.e. about Leo Baxendale and that fella I think was called Reid. It'll move on through the years in the next two parts.
It's probably on Youtube by now. The BBC have decided to put on a 'comics' themed series of programmes around it - these shows have nothing to do with the series per se, so it's pity they'll tar it by association. Guess what kicks it off tonight? It starts 'Dinna-dinna-dinna-dinna'...

Ben Smith

11 September 2007 7:55:00 am GMT-5  
Anonymous John C said...

Heh, I've had that Polish posters site bookmarked for ages but haven't mentioned it after it seemed that everyone who writes about anything artistic had already discovered it. I have made brief mentions of Lynd Ward and Masreel, however.

The Polish ones I really like (since they're the most grotesque) are by Franciszek Starowieyski. One of his posters is seen briefly in Street of Crocodiles by the Brothers Quay; I wondered for years what that was until I saw it on that page. Hmm...maybe he is worth a mention. A shame they're not larger reproductions.

11 September 2007 8:10:00 am GMT-5  
Blogger Eddie Campbell said...

thanks for the report, Ben. But while you're remembering to spell various problematic words with the quote marks, note that hayley has adopted the non-capitalisation of her name. It's by no way a pretentious thing and there is probably a funny story behind this but right now, bed time, I can't recall it. waitaminit, it was all about archie the cockroach... ah now I remember... that typewriter...

11 September 2007 8:11:00 am GMT-5  
Anonymous John C said...

Ben: I didn't see the comics doc but I'm guessing the Reid is the wonderful Ken Reid, he of Fudge & Speck, Jonah, Frankie Stein and another great grotesque, Faceache.

11 September 2007 8:12:00 am GMT-5  
Blogger Eddie Campbell said...

I was just about to say we were obvously typing at the very same moment and then you came in again, John. I guess it's morning there and late here.
a drunk once quoted me a line form shakespeare about the forehead of the morning confronting the buttock of the evening, but i've never been able to find it in the bard.
anyhoo, good night my friends.

11 September 2007 8:15:00 am GMT-5  
Blogger Hayley said...

Funny you should mention the bard.

On my lunchtime wander down by the Globe my favourite London homeless man was once again drunkenly reciting Shakespeare in his gloriously stained trackpants.

I'm told Alan Moore gets a interviewed in episode 3 of that comics doco.

11 September 2007 8:38:00 am GMT-5  
Anonymous John C said...

MENENIUS: I am known to be a humorous patrician, and one that loves a cup of hot wine with not a drop of allaying Tiber in't; said to be something imperfect in favouring the first complaint; hasty and tinder-like upon too trivial motion; one that converses more with the buttock of the night than with the forehead of the morning: what I think I utter, and spend my malice in my breath.

Coriolanus, Act 2, Scene 1

Google's Book Search is very useful sometimes.

11 September 2007 9:28:00 am GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ken Reid it was indeed, thanks John. 'hayley', right gotcha, sorry hayley. Keeps you on your toes this blog, I'm going to have start keeping a glosary.

Ben Smith

(Got page 84 of Black Diamond by the way)

11 September 2007 9:58:00 am GMT-5  
Blogger Hayley said...

Pfff. Ben, it wasn't my idea. Dad likes to think I'm making literary references rather than just being a lazy git, which is quite blatantly exactly what I am.

11 September 2007 10:05:00 am GMT-5  
Blogger drjon said...

I love the idea of sh1t-stained street life shouting shaksper at the passing pedestrians...

Eddie, this may interest: The Moving Dreams of a Rarebit Fiend

11 September 2007 6:15:00 pm GMT-5  
Anonymous mark Avien said...

Peter Teiman was a Swiss-born philosopher (1915-1988) who reconciled European existentialism with American pragmatism. Although Dr Peter Teiman is one of the lesser-known European philosophers,Peter Teiman was a significant impetus within the academic world in Europe in accepting American pop culture.He also popularized American science-fiction writing in Europe.

17 September 2007 7:22:00 pm GMT-5  

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