Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Turkey—Go or No Go?

Someone needs to write a lipogrammatic novel based on this story ( via Bookslut), about how the Turkish government is fining Kurds for using the letters Q and W on placards. The letters in question don't exist in the Turkish alphabet. Maybe Pamuk could do something extravagant and chilling with this.

Georges Perec is best known for A Void (La Disparition), his e-less novel; more recently, Mark Dunn's Ella Minnow Pea pushed the conceit further by gradually forbidding more and more letters. (In EMP, there's a town with a statue dedicated to the person who came up with that typographical commonplace, "The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog"—as letters fall off the base of the statue, they become verboten.)

There's also Walter Abish's very cool Alphabetical Africa, in which there's an abecedarian admission of letters—in chapter one, all words begin with a; in chapter two, they begin with either a or b, and so forth. It culminates, of course, a chapter in which all letters can be used—a "normal" chapter. Then the backward progression begins, until a's alone are admissible.

Maybe the least-read lipogrammatic creation of note is Ernest Vincent Wright's 1939 novel Gadsby, which I'm quite fond of. (You can read the entire thing at Spineless Books.)

I don't know why I submitted you to this lecture on the lipogram. I think I'm still mourning the loss of my review of the Oulipo Compendium—written years ago (the crazy '90s) for some online magazine that has disappeared without a trace. Is it possible I no longer have a copy?

Well, disappearing is appropriate, perhaps, given today's topic.


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