Monday, September 14, 2009

Mauve Desert, ABA', Cheatsin' NaNoWrMo

Mauve Desert is one of my favourite novels, a translation of a roman(ce) by QuebeCoise author Nicole Brossard. I read Brossard's novel in translation, but the book itself is a translation, the story of a fifteen year-old girl who navigates the baroque night-roads of the desert; the story of the middle-aged academic who discovers her writing in a second-hand bookshop and translates it. The narrative is presented twice, or presented and represented. Mauve Desert is one of the most thought-provoking and beautiful books I have read, and well worth reading.

Mauve Desert follows the form of a musical sonata, follow the pattern of theme-diversion-restatement. Mathematically, this translation could be expressed as ABA'. This pattern can be found in novels by Virginia Woolf and James Joyce, as well as... well, if you start looking for this pattern, little by little, you will go insane.

A narrative that retells itself, a book that draws attention to itself, is, by definition, metafiction. And the ABA' pattern implies a more subtle pattern; once you perform a translation, you can perform it again, and again... ABA' becomes ABA'BA'' becomes ABA''BA'''...

And I intend to create such a thing. Every year, when National Novel Writing Month rolls around, I
try and I fail, primarily because of life and other things, lack of preparation and so forth. So this year, what I want to do is crowd source my attempt.

In short, I intend to create a simple narrative right here on this here sight, soliciting comments on each chapter as it is published. I will then respond to these comments as annotations to the original narrative (ie as footnotes, sidebars, endnotes and other such typographical madness), in such a way that these annotations will appear within/without/interrupting the text of the original narrative.

Are you with me so far?

When all is said and done, I will then use things like Atom, DocBook and ePub to repackage the whole mess in the form narrative-annotations-annotatednarrative. If that doesn't get me to 50,000 words, I don't know what will.

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