a, A Novel
Derek Beaulieu, 457 pgs, Jean Boîte Éditions, jean-boite.fr
I’ve never read a book quite like a, A Novel by Derek Beaulieu. The book takes Andy Warhol’s original work and deletes all the text, leaving behind punctuation marks, onomatopoeic words, and typists’ insertions.
When I started reading the book, I had no idea how I was going to review it. There are no characters, no dialogue or descriptions to get a sense of the writing style, and, most importantly, there is no plot.
But as I kept reading, I started to create my own story. In my interpretation, it takes place in New York City in someone’s apartment. This someone really enjoys opera and is musical. Oh, and really likes to talk on the phone. There were some hectic moments in the middle with a lot of noise and action, and at one point, there’s a “SMACK” followed by a suspicious “unintelligible garble.” I mean, spoiler alert, but I think someone was just kidnapped.
In all seriousness, this book was such a unique reading experience. It felt like I was interpreting an abstract piece of art where the work could be analyzed in different ways. You can interpret the pages through the punctuations, comments, and sounds left behind. There are times when pages with a lot of periods, quotations, and sounds slowly transitions to pages almost devoid of punctuation and noise, and this had an odd effect of going from chaos to calm, from loud to quiet.
Beaulieu has turned a novel into a piece of art. Read it, use your imagination and you can come up with your own epic story.