Books

1337: A Game Novel (2010)

Review by Nick Courage

So it's called 1337: A Game Novel and it's an honest to goodness Facebook app and custom(!) paperback by Mark Fullmer, drawing on your friend-base for characters and fully interactive in a post-modern but also old school text adventure sort of way. Points for Ennui and Whimsey! A refreshable Lustiness index!

I work in publishing where we're always talking about harnessing "New Media" and a nowhere lit. e-zine just became a major player because they tweeted a short story -- badly. 1337 is pretty much the most fun thing I've seen in a while, and the least specious re: actually utilizing new media (not counting "Mr. Plimpton's Revenge: A Google Maps Essay").

But unlike "Plimp's Revenge" this is a whole novel: serialized and super-fun -- launched on David Lynch's birthday, 1337 (pronounced: "leet", for my octogenarian demo) has a sort of William Gibson down the rabbit hole meets Cory Doctorow in Little Brother feel to it. I hope you give it a chance, because I <3 this stuff. And while you're at it, check out the context, both wiki and "developer website", which is extensive and more Hackers than Hackers. This, folks, is Mark Fullmer Overdrive.

Tweet, Tweet: a mysticotelegraphic fistbump panegyric to the american open road odyssey (2009)

Review by Emily Bloom, originally published on the University of Texas Visual Rhetoric blog

Full confession: I just joined Twitter about 30 minutes ago. However, for considerably longer, I've been curious about the significance of Twitter's text-based 140-character format. Although Twitter contains some visuals such as profile pictures and links, it is primarily a print-based medium. The viewer experiences Twitter posts, or tweets, as a wall of sentences. While tweets are themselves primarily textual in nature, a recent project offers visual interpretations that plays with the relationship between image and text.

Tweet, Tweet, a poetry collection by Mark Fullmer, uses the 140-character constraint of tweets to take on the most iconic of American genres-- the road odyssey. In the video for Tweet, Tweet: A mysticotelegraphic fistbump panegyric to the American open road odyssey, Fullmer voices these micropoetic tweets over black and white footage of the passing scenery. The video begins with the image of a twitter feed, but most of the subsequent imagery focuses on the western landscape. Once on the road, Fullmer shows himself jotting his words onto a pad of paper as he drives. In the sense that Fullmer writes rather than texts his words on the journey, tweets become a poetic constraint rather than a new media per se.

On The Beautiful Sea: Eight Stories (2008)

Review by Nick Courage

The machismo of american letters has a long and turgid history, which - coupled with the currently popular literary trifecta of overdone irony, cloying sweetness, and trump card gravitas - usually leaves me on the defensive. To be touched by an author in the Oprah Age is to be violated... and so I've noticed that the temptation, when reviewers try to talk about a book they've enjoyed, is two pronged: either unveil the smoke and mirrors, denying themselves the simple pleasure of an uninvestigated read, or hyperbolize: powerful, sinuous prose; flirtations with overarching truths; socially relevant and attention demanding - how else could a novel penetrate our media-jaded consciousness if not forcibly by an author-god? No need to name names; you all know these authors and their various flags, have been directed to their blogs via Gawker or the Times Online.

Not so with ON THE BEAUTIFUL SEA, a collection of intertwined short stories in which the ebbing and flowing narrator evinces an unpresuming, emotable fragility - a vulnerability that steers clear of solipsism, instead reaching gently outward, rubbing the back of the inner-artist we all guard so preciously. Having set aside the ego that characterizes our contemporary literary milieu, ON THE BEAUTIFUL SEA asks us not for adulation, but for self reflection. and it's not twee about it either - this is a kunslerroman (an artist's coming of age story) that self-immolates as it assuages, affording the reader some mitigated hope and beatitude even as the narrative unravels. but perhaps this is too strong an assessment, one I'm sure the author would contest.

At base, ON THE BEAUTIFUL SEA is like the soundtrack to the last movie that left you smiling with tears dried on your cheeks - at its best, it's made you feel without you even realizing it. Or, better, Fullmer's quietly transcendent moments are ineffable, like the homesickness of the silhouettes on Keat's grecian urn, on some museum pedestal and wondering what's happened.

My favorite is probably "what's a novena?", but "girl in the park" really proved Fullmer's reach as a writer. Five stars. Five hearts.

The Stories
1. What's a Novena?
2. match.com
3. The Rachmaninoff Vocalise
4. On the Beautiful Sea
5. The Girl in the Park
6. Funny Valentine
7. Day Sleepers Welcome
8. Dairy