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Comment: Very Good copy, cover and pages show some wear from reading and storage. Binding may have light creases. Lots of life left in these pages. May contain very minimal writing/highlighting or notations.
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Eunoia Paperback – September, 2001

4.3 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"Writing is inhibiting. Sighing, I sit, scribbling in ink this pidgin script. I sing with nihilistic witticism, disciplining signs with trifling gimmicks impish hijinks which highlight stick sigils. Isn't it glib? Isn't it chic?" Besides being glib and chic, Bok's new book strikes one with the force of being the most incredible literary curio: each of its chapters is allowed to use only one vowel outgunning even Georges Perec's famed La Disparition, which simply omits the letter "e." Apparently seven years in the making, Eunoia, the shortest word in the English language to employ all the vowels (it means "beautiful thinking"), also employs other, more mundane constraints on paragraph length (all are 12 lines long) and what must be mentioned (the act of writing, nautical travel, energetic eating). This hyper-mechanization of the writer's craft sets the stage for a welter of eccentric, yet universally appealing, tours-de-force, such as Chapter E's retelling of the Illiad from the viewpoint of Helen: "Whenever Helen seeks these perverse excesses, her regretted deeds depress her; hence, Helen beseeches Ceres (the blessed Demeter): `let sweet Lethe bless me, lest these recent events be rememberd' then the empress feeds herself fermented hempseed, her preferred nepenthe." In the "u" chapter, "Dutch smut churns up blushful succubus lusts," and Ubu and Lulu burp, hump and bump for five delirious pages, exhausting, in the meantime, the entire range of English words that only contain the vowel. Eunoia's reductorial neurosis as euphonically zestful contrivance turns formidable stunts to imp's play. That is, this terrific book makes sense on its own terms. (Nov.)Forecast: Bok's debut Crystallography was well reviewed in Canada (Bok lives and works in Toronto, whence Coach House publishes), and he has invented languages for two Gene Roddenberry TV series, Earth: Final Conflict and Amazon. This book will have to be sought out, but it is beautifully produced, and browsers will be hooked.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Review

"A marvellous, musical texture of rhymes and echoes." -- Harry Mathews

"Eunoia is a novel that will drive everybody sane" -- Samuel R. Delany

"The writing is musical, bawdy, and ingenious...Bök has crafted storylines [that are] a delight to read." -- Devin Crawley, Quill and Quire, October, 2001
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Coach House Press; 1 edition (September 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1552450929
  • ISBN-13: 978-1552450925
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,391,092 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I was prompted to buy a copy of Eunoia after hearing Christian Bok reading excerpts on the radio. I devoured the book in one sitting, turning each page with greater anticipation, relishing each example of verbal ingenuity. To me, that's what Eunoia is essentially about - sheer brilliance. This book is the result of a titanic cerebral initiative and it comes off flawlessly.
I've lent this book to dozens of people, and to be honest, not everyone has appreciated it in the same way I have. Some people have read the first page and handed it back saying "I don't get it" or "it makes my head hurt". Clearly, this book is not for everyone.
If you have a passion for language you will love this book. If you like word-play, you will love this book. If you appreciate "cleverness" you will love this book. I smiled the whole way through it out of sheer amazement and disbelief. By far the best thing I've read this year, and something that I will continue to revisit over the years to come.
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Format: Paperback
I substituted at a middle school a little while ago, and the teacher had left a lesson that involved reading and discussing a poem (it was "The First Book", by Rita Dove: Selected Poems) and then writing a "found poem", based on words that the students found around the room. I knew that I would have to sell it well for the lesson to have any chance. After we established, with only little confusion and resistance, the poem's message, I steered the discussion to the poem's poetic qualities. I tried to emphasize what made the poem a poem, which is hard sometimes when so much that is called "poetry" is simple fancy prose with irregular line breaks. So we talked about image, figurative language and double meanings, and I suggested, as I suggest with every class on the subject, that poetry is essentially playing with language.

(I had had difficulty with a previous definition that had confounded a class of sophomores, that poetry "is words doing more that just meaning what they mean." Try as they might some students couldn't repeat that sentence back to me. One was convinced that I had said that poetry "doesn't mean anything".)

When it came time for the assignment to write a "found poem", I anticipated some resistance. They would certainly ask why they couldn't just write about anything they wanted. So I told them about Christian Bök, and I reminded them about "playing with language". Christian Bök wrote the book Eunoia, in which each of five chapters uses only one vowel, each in turn. The first page goes thus:

Awkward grammar appalls a craftsman.
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Format: Paperback
Christian Bök's Eunoia is becoming a fast hit among those with actual "colored-letter" synesthesia.
Christian Bök based part of his ideas for Eunoia off the concept of synesthesia, mainly borrowing from Arthur Rimbaud's poem "Voyelles" (the strangely-colored cover design for the book is also based upon the same). In "Voyelles", Rimbaud creates correspondences between colors and letters of the alphabet (or, more specifically, the written symbols - the graphemes) for vowels.
Synesthesia is an actually existing, albeit rare, set of benign neurological conditions. Overwhelmingly, the most common (perhaps as common as existing in 1 out of every 750 people) form of synesthesia involves involuntary, automatic correspondences made between colors and graphemes (letter and number characters). This type of synesthesia is apparently genetically-based (that is, organic, and not psychologically based upon childhood associations), and usually emerges around the age of six or seven years of age. Those with "colored-letter" synesthesia generally maintain it throughout life, with virtually no variations in the color-letter correspondences. They have no choice as to which colors are associated with which letters and are stuck with the links throughout life. Also, each individual synesthete's total set of color-letter correspondences is unique, although there are certain trends to be found world-wide with certain graphemes, such as "A" being red and "O" being white or clear amongst about two-thirds of all such synesthetes.
Rimbaud was not a colored-letter synesthete; he admits that he made up the correspondences in his (in-)famous poem.
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Christian Bok is amazing. I've never seen a lucid narrative so densely packed with sound and rhythm.

As an example, from "Chapter E": "When Helen feels these stresses, she trembles. She frets. Her helplessness vexes her. She feels depressed (even when her cleverest beekeepers fetch her the freshest sweets)." etc... this goes on for a long, long time. NOTE: each word in "Chapter E" is restricted to only using the vowel E. The same is true for all the vowels. E, A, I and O are interesting narratives. Not much is said, but each tells a story. However, U is just weird, and much more difficult.

I see this book as an amazing, nearly genius level display of skill and talent, a true monument of intellect.

While I expected each vowel (from listening to Christian Bok on youtube), I didn't know there were extra pieces, including some translation of Arthur Rimbaud from the French, some poems FOR Rimbaud, and other tidbits.. none of which is as interesting as the vowel chapters.

While, there is lots to say about this amazing, titanic work, another thing has to be said - I don't like it that much. I can appreciate the work. I can marvel at the effort involved and what it is doing. At the same time, listening to it and reading it just isn't that fun or enjoyable. I can still recommend it - it is something that people who read and enjoy poetry should experience.
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