The Brandon Book Crises
Brandon Scott Gorrell and Tao Lin
The Brandon Book Crises is an un-edited collection of gmail chat sessions, text messages and emails centering around the problems that Tao Lin and Brandon Gorrell had in dealing with the layout and design of Gorrell's upcoming poetry collection, During My Nervous Breakdown I Want to Have a Biographer Present. It's just the raw data, with no tweaking (in fact they have left in tact their personal phone numbers and even log in information to their printers FTP server).
Going into this book I thought that I could view in like the running commentary on a movie. It turns out to be nothing like that. In fact, it has nothing at all to do with the poetry collection itself. The conversations are all about layout, color schemes, file types and the minutia of formatting. This should be random and unreadable. The things is, an actual narrative emerges. There is genuine tension about whether they will be able to get the book completed in a form that they can live with.
Characters emerge. Oblique references to girlfriends (and the troubles that relationships entail), unemployment, on-line feuds, and meals begin to inform the reader. Through it all Tao and Brandon seem a bit out of their depth. These are writers (very young writers at that) and not experts at graphic design or layout. Their dealings with the tech people at the printer are almost funny. You get a real sense for how young these men are (they say 'bro' a lot and worry if Blake Butler is 'on their side' and such).
The book is very post-post modern, and strange. It may help the reader to think of it as a sort of dumbed down My Dinner with Andre for twenty-somethings.
The Brandon Book Crises is not a book for a mass audience (the creators know this, they are only printing 150 copies) but it is an oddly compelling read.