"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.'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 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.'
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
Labels: new books (2)