The Possibility of Music by Stephen-Paul Martin

for family, went to san francisco over the weekend–very happy to see the used book stores in the mission still there. ten years since i last saw them: abandoned planet, dog eared, phoenix, modern times. i buy almost everything online now, so few used bookstores left in NYC (adam’s unnameable books one of a few lovely exceptions). what fun to browse seven or eight cases of used books…

i found this one there. i’d seen it on the FC2 site but never bothered because, frankly, the cover art was ugly (or better(?) said: the cover was sending the incorrect market signal to its presumed target consumer)… this book shoud have this cover, some cutiepie wink wink smartypants cover–not this overly literal and overly busy collage.

point’s not to bash the designer though but to take a moment to lament the death of browsing–cuz at modern times bookstore i actually picked it up, read a few pages, and fell quickly for stephen-paul martin’s hilarious, risky, and meandering storytelling.

though called stories there is a narrator which is similar enough in voice throughout to achieve the continuity of a novel. the tales are interconnected by repeating image/phrase touchstones–a technique i like alot when done well and which fits perfectly with the book’s philosophy of mystical coincidence and witty skepticism.

it avoids plot while maintaining all the fun and development of storytelling. it also ends with a questionably successful story that nonetheless i enjoyed tremendously for the huge emotional gamble it takes to tell a “non-ironic love story.”

i think i’ve said the above too clinically. the book’s a lot of fun… like the wit and depth of reading a david antin talk without the spaces. if you liked lynn crawford’s SIMPLY SEPARATE PEOPLE or the dry humor of harry mathews’ CIGARETTES or JOURNALIST, try this one.

buy from FC2 or buy from a used bookstore or find it at a library

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