Tuesday, November 4, 2008

From A to X: A Story In Letters

John Berger's newest novella catches the eye of the New York Times.

"His most recent novel, 'From A to X: A Story in Letters,' plays with form in several ways: from the trompe l’oeil cover, which suggests the object in hand is not a work of fiction but an actual dossier, to the preface, in which someone named John Berger explains that he has come into possession of three packets of letters 'recuperated' from an abandoned prison. These missives were written by someone called A’ida ('if this is her real name') to her lover, 'known as Xavier,' jailed as a founding member of a 'terrorist network.' By telling us the letters are not in chronological order, by proposing that their contents may be written in code and by indicating places where the writing is illegible, Berger the author invites us to interact with, to co-create, the text, guessing at the meanings of words and phrases, pondering what might have happened in the interval between letters, and imagining the reasons some were never posted. But 'invites' is too mild a term, and 'co-create' too academic. What he really does is charge the reader with the responsibility to join in."

Though the reviewer calls it a novel, Berger's book weighs in at 197 pages.

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