Inspired by the deliberate writing constraints of Oulipo writers, Paul Glennon uses a dodecahedron as scaffolding for his collection of short stories The Dodecahedron or A Frame for Frames.
In ‘Some Clippings for my Article on Machine Literature’, an interview with the creator of Amanuensis, software to create books, we read:
He goes on to describe a novel based on the geometry of the dodecahedron. ‘Each of the twelve faces represents a different narrative. The thirty edges represent the relationships between these stories. The twenty vertices . . .’ Plunge’s girlfriend of five years, who has been coaxed outside to help hold the whiteboard, raises her eyebrows ever higher as he goes on.
‘It’s a bit much,’ concludes the girlfriend. The structure almost gets in the way of twelve superb short stories. Perhaps anxious that readers might not appreciate the cleverness of using a dodecahedron to define the relationship between each short story, Glennon provides an explanatory Afterword. I understood the constraint from the title of the story collection. Knowing the structure adds an allure to reading the stories, but by the end it feels somewhat over-laboured.
The interrelationship between the stories is fascinating. In the first story, ‘In My Father’s Library,’ a young boy consumes his father’s ‘special’ books to keep them from three sinister investigators. The different repercussions of this act, in later stories, is exhilarating. Glennon is an imaginative storyteller who creates memorable worlds.
By the conclusion of the book, we are no wiser about which of the various stories represent the ‘true’ interpretation. The collection is all the better for that ambiguity.
Thanks to The Wolves for the inspiration to read this book.