“Mind the gaps” – Boundless as the Sky by Dawn Raffel

IMG_2023-2-7-1425001.1 This is a valuable book, worth dipping into again and again.

1.2 You don’t need to read Calvino’s Invisible Cities to enjoy the book.

1.3 It is made up of fragments.

“If I tell you that the city towards which my journey tends is discontinuous in space and time, now scattered, now more condensed, you must not believe the search for it can stop.” Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities.

1.4 It has two distinct sections, the first, the most fragmented, short episodes, stories, prose poems. It has some sections that are Borgesian in intent. Take “The Big Book of Elephants.” What is it about? The transitoriness of humanity, the endurance of literature, in about two hundred words, an Ozymandias in prose. It manages to be sublime and funny, almost simultaneously.

1.5 This is a book that dwells on its own making:

“3. Create imaginary people in order to house a pre-fabricated tale.

4. Construct imaginary cities in order to house a tale inside a person imagined or real.”

1.6 It includes mythical features, dictionary features, thesaurus features. There are photographs too but the original collection was lost in a flood. The dictionary features are at times bogus:

“ii) Cafetorium

An auditorium in which one may also mass-consume mass-produced food and fluid along with information, entertainment, and ideas, ingesting them simultaneously.”

1.7 The second half, a flight from Italy to Chicago, dodges between fact and fiction. The question that runs alongside it is how close was Mussolini’s Italy to the USA in the Nineteen Thirties.

Any Cop?: If you like books made up of short, short fictions that transgress time and space. Which other writers might you group with this book? The mighty Calvino, the even mightier Borges, David Keenan in his most experimental guise, and Richard Brautigan gone fishing, in other words writers that give the reader space to imagine, to construct a narrative or narratives, not expecting the writer to fill in all the gaps. This book is boundless for the reader.

(Sagging Meniscus Press is one of the best publishers of contemporary fiction and literary books in America)

Richard Clegg

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