Wednesday, September 12, 2007

daniel carter chapbook review from smoke signals mag

Daniel Carter's WORK IN PROCESS #1 is a sliver of a chapbook, 4 81/2 x 11 sheets stapled and folded, with text from pages 5 to 16. But it could easily take as long to read as a novel, dense as it is linguistically. In 12-point font with inchy margins, there are about a dozen sentences, several running more than a page in length.

If you can call them sentences. They're more like DNA, strings of ideas that have a logic made of associations. These associations paint the inner life of author Daniel Carter, a musician living and performing today in New York City and around the world.

Daniel Carter (b.1945) has a good Wikipedia article at last glance. He is also a philosopher and a very strange sort of activist. He is very active seeking out and working with young musicians and artists and creating connections between them.

Carter started his musical career singing doo-wop in parking lots and schoolyards. His middle-class background has left him with a tolerant attitude; his African-American heritage expresses itself through a Cornel West-esque eloquence spiced with popular colloquialisms; and his graduate studies and prodigious lifelong reading habit have put him into a world of the mind that he, himself constructed from elements found among the texts he has read.

Reading Daniel's work should be a collaborative process. I have created collages from snippets of his work. It can be used as a script for theatrical or video productions; processed as source code for constructions. I think DNA sequencers should sequence some of it out and see what happens.

Despite his laid-back attitude about self promotion, Carter's work is fairly widely published. The work in process chapbook is part of an ongoing series by Abe Gibson's Pitch/The Silver Wonder Press (also publishers of some good stuff by Matt Sheahan, Doug Draime, and Gibson himself) that will eventually result in a sort of urban jazz Finnegan's Wake.

You should read this book at random, paging through and letting your eyes land where they may. Then your eyes skid along like skaters on ice when they hit something like:

eternity stood trembling, her stability thoroughly undermined by a creeping terror
that now burst beyond fashion into permanent policy and into the cold business
of everything shattering.

It's prophet-type stuff, so it's especially going to resonate with readers who enjoyed the Nag Hammadi Library and Old Testament books like Isaiah and Ezekiel. It will also appeal to fans of James Joyce, and maybe to some people who wouldn't mind a slightly more accessible version of Joyce; it's still musical, weird, and fun but Carter stays primarily within the English language.

Review by C.B. Coble

this is available for $3.00

the silver wonder global h.q.
po box 146399
chicago, il 60614
checks payable to c.a. gibson

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