On Aurélie Noury’s “How I Didn’t Write Any of My Books”
Read the full review here.

“Noury’s essay is an ultra-violet light to the literary canon’s invisible ink. How I Didn’t Write Any of My Books sharpens our focus on negative space, the work that ‘could not be written down on paper,’ the empty bookshelf, the unfinished manuscript, the pulse of life that remains in embryo, ‘filling far more than pages, but entire lives.’

“The labyrinth of books not written — both in the lives of fictitious characters and ‘abstinent authors’ — is an ensorcelling concept, touching on what is intrinsic to the artist: ‘a work is also everything that was not.’ Noury writes an almost encyclopedic inventory of this counter-literature, underlining the means by which works like On Dandyism by Baudelaire, or the manuscript of Robert Serval in Perec’s 53 Days, works that have not, in fact, been written, create a Rubin’s vase in the literary realm. Siphoning completed imaginary texts into the Lorem Ipsum publishing project, Noury writes by reading, as ‘to create out of one’s readings is paying off one’s debts.'”

On Jordan Bolay’s “How to Make an English Exam Interesting.”
Read full review here.

“Bolay scans the room for the comical meat of poetic supplies: ‘two blue exam booklets / to blue exam booklet: / I’m sorry this isn’t / a better poem,’ reflects the absurdity of the exercise — homophone phrases cannot overcome the lackluster blue book. Similarly, ‘some War of the Roses reference / we didn’t re-cover Shakespeare / in this class,’ alludes to an impish attitude toward the canon of literature.

“The height of Bolay’s work comes in his game of jump rope with Žižek, ‘our objet petit a / our caffeine-free diet coke,’ is the integrity bag, a practice that Google tells me the University of Calgary uses to titillate its young.”

For more work by Jenna in Broken Pencil, go here.