writing under constraint

The Procedural Poetries of Joan Retallack


Brian Lennon considers the aesthetic that Retallack has evolved out of a cybernetic sensibility - a formalism that does not impose authoritarian codes or repressive orders, but rather hacks a pattern out of the sheer data of everyday life: directories, menus, phone books, indexes, encyclopedias, and archives.

Simultaneously Reading/Writing Under/Destroyed My Life


Maria Damon reviews Alan Sondheim’s Writing Under: Selections from the Internet Text in light of the literature of John Fahey to demonstrate that those texts, like her performative review of them, enact a “mastering/dismantling itch twitch” that has a “life of its own, moving through the artist in a parasitic way.”

Abish's Africa


Abish’s Alphabetical Africa is pondered here, in a critifiction by Louis Bury. Bury’s text is written - like the novel itself - under constraint: each critical query begins with a new letter of the alphabet. Culminating in “Zeugma,” the essay explores the poetics of Abish’s linguistic experiment from somewhere close to the inside. (Doug Nufer’s Negativeland gets a similar - though more subtle - treatment in another Bury piece.)

Absences, Negations, Voids


Examining Doug Nufer’s Negativeland, a constraint-based text, Louis Bury adopts the same constraint as the novel - an approach NOT dissimilar to his treatment of Abish’s Alphabetical Africa. In this case, the constraint is a prohibition against sentences lacking “some form of negation” - a commitment not unlike the affirmation of negativity.

Revolution 2: An Interview with Mark Z. Danielewski


Kiki Benzon and Mark Z. Danielewski discuss his 2006 book Only Revolutions at the International Festival of Authors in Toronto.

Pinocchio's Piccolo, or, How Tristram Shandy Got It Straight: Searching in Raymond Federman's Body Shards


Michael Wutz writes of how, in Raymond Federman’s My Body in Nine Parts, body parts are represented as having registered, inscribed, contributed to Federman’s life.

The Riddling Effect: Rules and Unruliness in the Work of Harry Mathews


Michael Boyden reflects on the stubborn and idiosyncratic fiction of Harry Mathews and introduces a new ebr gathering of work on and by Mathews.

An Interview with Harry Mathews


Michael Boyden interviews Harry Mathews via email.

The Dialect of the Tribe


This is a reprint of Mathews’ short story which originally appeared in The Human Country: New and Collected Stories (Dalkey Archive 2002).

Fearful Symmetries


Harry Mathews writes of the inherent difficulties in translation - especially the translation of his own work.

Verse in Reverse


On the occasion of the 2003 Fitzpatrick O’Dinn Award publication, Alan Sondheim asks some questions of formally constrained literature. The more strict the constraints, the more open, free, and plentiful the questions.

&Now Conference Review


Late Breaking: William Gillespie, Scott Rettberg, and Rob Wittig post from Notre Dame University on the &Now festival of writers and writing.

Nothing Less and Nothing More: The Oulipo Compendium


Alain Vuillemin comprehends the compendium - a summing up of four decades of Oulipian activity.
Translation by James Stevens

Fecal Profundity


Human waste takes center stage in Dominique Laporte’s unusual microhistory, a book as valuable for the anecdotes as for its argument.

Notable American Prose


Ted Pelton reviews Ben Marcus’s novel that’s not one.

Tomorrow Ltd.


Thoughts on the debut novel by Alex Shakar.

The Present of Fiction


Recent fiction by Curtis White, Alex Shakar, Michael Martone, and others read through the lens of Gertrude Stein and Wittgenstein.

Unraveling the Tapestry of Califia


Jaishree K. Odin on the hyperfiction of M.D. Coverley.

Not Browsing but Reading: Magazines and Books Online


Perusing websites pertaining to literary matters, Eye magazine cites HTML’s “gaptoothed rawness” as a hindance to readability in ebr (prior to the journal’s redesign).

Constrained Thinking: From Network to Membrane


Paul Harris examines the theoretical aspects of constrained thinking in the age of electronic textuality (in 2000 words, natch!)

Ovid's Concrete Labyrinths


Tony D’Souza on Alex Shakar’s Metamorphoses.

Nothing Less and Nothing More: The Oulipo Compendium


Alain Vuillemin comprehends the compendium - a summing up of four decades of Oulipian activity.
Translation by James Stevens

Writing Under Constraint


ebr10, a satisfyingly even number published at the turn of the millennium, seemed at the time like the right occasion for calling an end to issues altogether. In the event, we would not manage to eliminate issues until February 2002 - that palindromic month and year, as satisfying in its way as the y2k.

Mister Smathers


a short fiction by Harry Mathews

The Education of Adams (Henry) / ALAMO


Paul Braffort studies constrained writing from Henry Adams to Braffort’s own ALAMO project, and presents his findings in the form of a Triolet (between 1999 and 2000 words)

Toward a General Theory of the Constraint


Bernardo Schiavetta: a definition (in 2000 words)

More Pixels to the Inch


Thomas Hartl reviews Ron Sukenick’s Mosaic Man

Seeking the (Black Hole) Sun


Cynthia Davidson reviews Sex for the Millennium by Harold Jaffe



William O’Rourke on the beat of the Clinton beat

Fed Ex Un Ltd


Jan Baetens reviews the Raymond Federman Recyclopedia, a book whose humour - and evident bad taste - raise it above its own formidable constraints.

Harry Mathews's Al Gore Rhythms: A Re-viewing of Tlooth, Cigarettes, and The Journalist


Paul Harris rediscovers the senior American member of Oulipo on the occasion of three new reprints from The Dalkey Archive Press.

Alire: A Relentless Literary Investigation


Phillippe Bootz gives an account of the longest standing web-based literary journal in France.
Translation by James Stevens

An Inter(e)view with Ben Marcus


Stacey Levine on the occasion of Dalkey Archive’s reprinting of The Age of Wire and String