A Fractured Portrait of Iris
a work of non-idiomatic improvisation
by David J. Keffer
Imagine a rectangular window, composed of twenty-five panes of glass, arranged in a five by five grid. Behind the window stands a woman peering out. Each pane of glass is different. One is colored red; one is frosted to a point just short of complete opacity. Another pane is filled with old leaded glass that distorts in waves the figure behind it. Yet another contains a defect that gives the effect of a fisheye lens. One pane is cracked. Through this multifaceted window an image of the woman arises. It is not a continuous, integrated image; it is, rather, a fractured portrait revealing aspects of the woman that would not have been possible had the window been whole.
July 31, 2013
On the Organization of this Book
This book contains twenty-five passages corresponding to five subjects, each described in five styles. The first style takes the form of the description of a city. This form can be traced back to "Invisible Cities" by Italo Calvino. The second style takes the form of abstract vignettes. This form is inspired by "One Thousand One-Second Stories" by Taruho Inagaki. The third style is that of Biblical parables. This form is modeled after the gospel according to St. Luke. The fourth style is that of a traditional folk tale. This form comes from the public domain of oral tradition, as recorded by the Brothers Grimm and numerous others. The fifth style is what can be considered a traditional narrative in the author's own voice. If one had to cite one or more authors who inspired the author to write as he does, one could identify both Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Albert Camus. Although some readers may determine that the traits of neither master are evident in these narratives, such observations nevertheless fail to diminish their influence on the writing.
The twenty-five passages are intentionally not arranged by style or subject. Rather, they are presented in an order that was guided by, first, an attempt to reveal aspects of Iris in a gradual, logically connected manner and, second, when the first method failed me, by chance. The reader is encouraged to read the passages in any arbitrary order.
August 6, 2013
On a Literature of Non-Idiomatic Improvisation
The writing in this book is a carefully executed exercise in non-idiomatic improvisation. There are three characteristics of the literature of non-idiomatic improvisation. First, the writing is non-idiomatic, that is, it falls outside existing genres. Second, the writing occurs through a process of improvisation and presented without more than cursory post-writing editing. Third, the literature of non-idiomatic improvisation defies human memory. If the reader finds themselves unable to recall the details of what they have read at some point after (perhaps immediately after) closing the book, that is, as an inherent characteristic of the work, to be expected.
The dates presented in this book indicate the dates of writing, a declaration of provenance typical of live performances.
Those readers who are interested in learning more about the literature of non-idiomatic improvisation are encouraged to read the critical essay titled, A Literature of Non-Idiomatic Improvisation by David J. Keffer, available for free download from the Poison Pie Publishing House.
August 6, 2013
On the Hortie Pentalogy
A Fractured Portrait of Iris is the fifth and final entry in The Hortie saga, with the first book describing the family as a whole and the remaining four books focusing on one of the individual members of the family. Each of these books is an exercise in non-idiomatic improvisation. As such, they have as little in common with each other as possible given the fact that they were written by the same author and describe the same family of four.
Specifically, the first book, The Horties: An Invisible Novel (written from February, 2009 to December, 2010) describes the mythical origin of the family, during an epoch when they were all invisible. In structure, "The Horties" displays a modest disregard for the grand tradition of the novel.
The second book, The Sutra of Reverse Possession: A Novel of Non-Idiomatic Improvisation (written from December, 2010 to May, 2012) explores the existential fantasies of the father, Poppy Hortie. The book is written in the form of a more-or-less conventional novel.
The third book, The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath (Revisited): A Modern Adaptation of the Novella by H.P. Lovecraft (written from June, 2012 to August, 2012) follows the son, Joshua Hortie, as he travels through Lovecraft's dreamlands with his father on a mission to preserve the happiness of their relationship. The structure of the book largely follows that of Lovecraft's original version, with an emphasis on the description of the geography and culture of the dream realm.
The fourth book, The Ruins of My Daughter's Cities: An Imaginary Travelogue (written from September, 2012 to April, 2013) follows the daughter, Sarah Hortie, as she travels with her father on a journey designed to provide a better understanding of each other. This book is inspired by Italo Calvino's "Invisible Cities" and, to a lesser extent, "Cosmicomics".
Finally, "A Fractured Portrait of Iris" (written from February, 2013 to ???, 20??) focuses on the mother, Iris Hortie. It is a character sketch integrating a variety of writing styles as described above.
In conventional trilogies or series of books of any number, the same writing style is employed through-out all of the books, in order to maintain a sense of continuity. In the grand and non-existent tradition of non-idiomatic improvisation, one avoids the rut of creating one's own idiom (and thus ceasing to work in the non-idiomatic realm) by making each book in the series adhere to a different non-idiomatic style. A non-negligible consequence of this approach is that enjoying (or loathing) any one book in the series provides no guarantee that the reader will enjoy (or loathe) any of the other books in the series. So be it.
August 6, 2013