ponedjeljak, 30. travnja 2012.

Halvor Aakhus - Book of Knut: A Novel by Knut Knudson

Neke knjige u konceptu djeluju toliko neobično i zanimljivo da teško možeš zamisliti kako će zapravo u konačnici izgledati i hoće li biti na razini obećanja. Ponekad i ne želiš saznati, da bi se stalno mogao pitati. Želim li uopće "vidjeti" najavljenu knjigu Halvora Aakhusa? Matematika, notni zapisi, slike u boji - sve u knjizi proze... fijuuuu!

"Halvor Aakhus is the smartest and most wildly inventive young writer to come around since David Foster Wallace. Knut rules!" - David Leavitt

"Behold, the bastard child -- thrice removed -- of Padgett Powell, Barry Hannah, and Samuel Beckett. There's something very wrong and very right about the wires crossed in his head." - Benjamin Percy

"I once saw an extravagant castle in the wilds of Colorado, constructed from various materials over many years by one odd guy with a vision. This novel reminds me of that castle. It also reminds me of E.L. Doctorow's claim that excess in literature is its own justification. This wonderful novel is excessive - beautifully and humanely and ecstatically excessive. I urge you to give yourself up to it."
- Chris Bachelder

"Halvor Aakhus should be paralyzed from depression and knowing too much. He has two or three doctoral dissertations, never consummated, in his head. The truly arcane stuff in Book of Knut is from his memory. This book won a prize getting to this point, and the judge said it was so outrageously complicated he could not not give it the prize. The reader should gird his or her loins if loins can be in one's head." - Padgett Powell

An Interview With Halvor Aakhus by David Hoenigman:

"Halvor Aakhus was born and raised in southern Indiana, on the Ohio River. There, he practiced the piano until 1999, when he went to the Jacobs School to study composition but soon abandoned music for various kitchen jobs and graveyard shifts at gas stations. The first decade of the new millennium is a blur. Despite himself, Aakhus earned a B.A. in Mathematics (2006) and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Florida (2011). Aakhus’ debut novel Book of Knut: A Novel by Knut Knudson has been turned into a math textbook. It contains musical scores and oil paintings, as well as homework problems. (Forthcoming from Jaded Ibis Press, October 2012.)
Aakhus currently lives in Pennsylvania, where he teaches at the University of Pittsburgh.
What projects are you currently working on?
Book #2.
Book #1 is coming out this October from Jaded Ibis Press. It’s a novel called Book of Knut: A Novel by Knut Knudson (by Halvor Aakhus). Here’s the premise: A mathematician finds a novel (Book) written by her dead lover (Knut Knudson) and subsequently transforms it into an annotated mathematical textbook, complete with homework problems. Aside from oil paintings, musical scores, mathematical graphs, etc., it’s got 216 footnotes.
Anyway, Book #2 is the sequel. Also a novel, but more of a painting. It’s called Knut in Hell: An Oil Painting by Knut Knudson (by Halvor Aakhus): As a proactive guide to self-punishment, it adopts the structure of Dante’s Inferno.
If all goes well, Book #3 will be a string quartet. Or an opera. Possibly a requiem. Perhaps all three?
When and why did you begin writing?
I learned to read, and thus I wrote.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
To consider yourself a writer is a lot of pressure. Knut prefers to be unaware of self. Blind is his point of view.
What inspired you to write your first book?
Got a degree in math and chemistry. What else was I supposed to do?
Who or what has influenced your writing?
Practicing piano for the first two decades of my life certainly played a role. I also spent several years copying math textbooks into notebooks. But shit like flipping burgers, tending bar, and sleeping behind a Dumpster probably made the biggest impact. And then there’s love and death.
How has your environment/upbringing colored your writing?
From a very early age, as the son of two artistic academics, Knut vowed to never become a writer, nor a painter. And certainly not a teacher. (Knut failed there, utterly, on all counts.)
Do you have a specific writing style?
Only when I revise.
What genre are you most comfortable writing?
Given genre, I am most comfortable subverting its conventions. This is the game of art I’ve learned to play. Follow the rules enough to make sense, but break them enough to keep shit interesting. Genre is the box: my job is to show my audience the box, and help them step outside it.
Is there a message in your work that you want readers to grasp?
No. I prefer books that raise questions, not answer them.
What book are you reading now?
Just finished Padgett Powell’s You & I. As dialogue, it raises the stakes of his “monologic” Interrogative Mood. You know, like fucking Plato. Just as Plato adopts elderly Socrates as his grand inquisitor, Powell champions a pair of horny old men to achieve the same effect.
What is the most misunderstood aspect of your work?
Probably the math."

This video's soundtrack is Torbjorn's "Improvisation on B & F," which he performs naked in Excerpt 6.3 of Book. (The appended slideshow, however, includes paintings which may or may not appear in Book.)

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