I have always been interested in odd literary forms. Show me a short story in the form of an index to a non-existent book, and I will be deliriously happy. Or an entire novel that does not use the letter “e.” Or how about a book written in a completely made up language that neither the author nor the publisher can understand. Yes! Such projects fill me with a particular and peculiar sense of wonder that I cannot find in any other way. The authors of such texts use restriction to kick start their creativity, often producing works of glorious strangeness.
Readers of my previous blogs will know about my novel Terrastina and Mazolli, which I serialized here last year. I wrote the story in episodes of exactly ninety-nine words. Why did I do such a curious thing? To give myself complete freedom. By imposing such a restriction on myself I never had to think about when to end an episode. I took my first draft, which was usually 20 to 30 words too long, and pared it down, word by word, until I got to ninety-nine, not a word more or a word less. Almost invariably the finished episode pleased me with its precision. The method, for me, was a triumph of the freedom of restriction.
I have now produced a print version of Terrastina and Mazolli, available here. If you are kind enough to purchase a copy, you not only get all the episodes, but also interior illustrations, an interview with me conducted by a noted European journalist, a set of discussion questions, and an author commentary on one of the episodes, just like on DVDs. It may not be the bargain of the year, but I think it’s not too bad.