I had a chance to read By Myself (Turtle Point Press) by DA Powell and David Trinidad a week or two ago and wanted to give it a quick treatment here. It’s a three hundred sentence chapbook cobbled together from three hundred memoirs/autobiographies (one sentence per memoir/autobiography – in the back of the chapbook, they’ve noted which sentence comes from what book). So basically, Powell and Trinidad selected one hundred and fifty memoirs each, read/skimmed them, and then traded sentences back and forth one after another to eventually create a patchwork story of someone rising from poverty, becoming successful, dealing with various struggles (such as an unhealthy addiction to birthday cakes), and so on. It’s an arc we might expect to see in an autobiography, right? Here’s how my life is a meaningful story, with a beginning, middle, and end. However, due to the breadth of memoirs/autobiographies from which Powell and Trinidad select the sentences (Tennessee Williams, Kathie Lee Gifford, Gertrude Stein, William Shatner, Gore Vidal, etc.), the narrator’s trajectory is a bit erratic, but in a hilariously good way. Powell and Trinidad cleverly take advantage of this to create some funny moments and some sad moments as well.
July 19th, 2009 / 2:40 pm