Turn of a Pang by Nicole Brossard

Wednesday, September 17, 2014 § 0

Turn of a Pang: An Innovative (Mini)Novel Written in Poetic Prose 

A Book Review by 
David Detrich                           

Turn of a Pang (1976) by Nicole Brossard translated by Patricia Claxton was published by the Coach House Press, Toronto, a translation of Sold Out (1977) originally published by the Éditions du Jour in Montréal. The Blue Books (2003) by Nicole Brossard is a translation of three novels: A Book, Turn of a Pang, and French Kiss published by the Coach House Press, Toronto.

Turn of a Pang (1976) by Nicole Brossard is an innovative novel written in poetic prose about a redhead with a "sumptuous arrogant mane" of red hair, who inspires the reader in a literary mini-portrait condensed into poetic sentence structures that parallel the innovative writing of the 1970s avant garde by novelists who were writing in the wake of the wake. Although not included in the original anthology, Nicole Brossard produced three innovative novels now collected together in The Blue Books (2003) published by the Coach House Press, Toronto. The narrator of Turn of a Pang (1976) advances the plot from one time frame to the next, from Montréal in 1941 to the present moment of narration/reading, which creates a parallel text to another novel about a redhead, my own novel. Known for several collections of poetry that reveal a close focusing on the subject with a prophetic omniscience, this short novel by Nicole Brossard exemplifies the spirit of hospitality that makes Canada an exciting discovery for the reader of innovative fiction who has evolved in a similar literary direction. 

But the redhead was only the redhead and thence came the difficulty of living the redhead to the full hiding under that head of hair, that sumptuous arrogant mane.

The hidden side.

                                                           Turn of a Pang
                                                           Nicole Brossard

The introduction of the redhead begins the poetic mini-novel with the realization that the redhead has just made a small cameo appearance in what could be the larger plot of life, yet she intrigues the reader from the first sentence with her sumptuous mane of red hair. 

a midsummer quebec night's dream dimly lit and rather erotic when magical thoughts triumphed over those verbal battles busily waged by adults

                                                          Turn of a Pang
                                                          Nicole Brossard

A reference to the Shakespeare play A Midsummer Night's Dream sets the mood for the lighthearted whimsical novelistic phantasm which is composed of a series of erotic memories, each trying to resolve the plot of life into significance with the good memories beginning to fade for the reader, who has progressed for several decades from a young literary enthusiast towards the fellow novelist writing with a similar visual spatialization of the page into art conscious poetic abstraction. The Abstract Expressionism of New York is an influence on the poetics of the innovative novel which shows a progression in style with Nicole Brossard, and other Canadian poets, beyond the Surrealist esthetics of the 1920s towards the informal poetic abstraction of the later decades of the 20th Century. 

     As for the evening's final words, they mingle strategically with the all-pervading smoke (swallow held lovingly in the throat).

     As regards the redhead, there's only the color in the glint in my eye in the brightness of my smile cunningly arranging sexes and lips around silhouettes the time wouldn't survive the excitement would it and
     Yes I was dropping softly nicely down
                                                           Turn of a Pang
                                                           Nicole Brossard

The vanity of cigarette smoke is reminiscent of the San Francisco nightlife which inspires my own innovative novel about the waterfall with red hair who visits the Upper Peninsula, and Nicole Brossard has written a companion piece to my own ultramodern mini-portrait, two novels with similar red headed characters which continue a literary tradition featuring erotic relationships. When the narrator of Turn of a Pang gives in to desire it reminds us of the affirmative attitude of Molly Bloom at the end of Ulysses (1922) by James Joyce, a character whose interior monologue created the first modernist portrait of a woman. 

The trasparency in things opposed to verbal clutter; growing white dot surrounded with rusty red the white spreading lavish covering the red (which fades by degrees as a color become an obsessional presence / link / all of which belongs already like snow to nostalgia that never drains its source of meaning.
                                                           Turn of a Pang
                                                           Nicole Brossard

The poetic prose of Turn of a Pang verges on Abstract Expressionism with the space of the page representing a canvas where the unpunctuated sentences convey the suggestive brushwork of a sequence of images which create the parallel theme of a redhead, similar to my novel The Convergence of Two Narrative Lines Ascending, which tells the story of the waterfall with red hair, who makes a cameo appearance in the larger framework of the converging plotlines which intersect on the vertical and horizontal lines of a graph. As in Oulipo a potential literature might grow from the original conceptuality of the mini-plot.

The short romantic novel of the 18th Century creates a literary precedent for the mini-novel novel of the 21st century with the description of a relationship between an enthusiastic intellectual  novelist and a young woman. The spirit of 1776 still prevails in Québec City with the history of the founding of Canada after French and British colonization. 

Visible (written thus:     the body becomes visible through the power of imagery and desire) vivid river moulded in ink (flow as in fauna and flora fl.)
                                                           Turn of a Pang
                                                           Nicole Brossard

From Québec City and Montréal to the city of Windsor the mini-novel progresses with intersecting literary texts that embody a close awareness of resemblance, so that Turn of a Pang becomes an introduction to the nightlife. When like minded novelists envision the erotic avant garde mini-novel the result is a trend that has evolved from the early Greek novel, through the Enlightenment, to the urban nightlife of the 21st Century.


In the following section, I present five of Brossard’s figures—the spiral, vertigo and delirium, the horizon, the hologram and three-dimensional writing/reading, and rapprochement and the two-way passage—that I have chosen based on the frequency with which they appear in her work, the urgency that they carry in regards to her work and her aims as a lesbian-feminist writer, and their usefulness for readers who critically engage Brossard’s texts.
                                      Vertiginous Spaces: Reading and 
                                      Conceptualizing Space in(to)
                                      The Texts of Québécoise Author 
                                      Nicole Brossard by
                                      Benjamin Lee Taylor

The concept of figures is reminiscent of the critical writings of Gerard Genette, who published in the Tel Quel series, and whose analysis of figures has given the reader an awareness of visual and logical form in the innovative novel. The spiral represents the galaxy in the poetry of Nicole Brossard, and delirium represents the conflicts of contemporary events which can be solved with a rapprochement, a coming closer to agreement in our negotiations for peace.    
NB: In a way, I could say that the text keeps moving or adding only through the play on words. For a great part of it, I was brought to write things only because of the play with words, rerouting their meaning, shifting constantly from one level to another level of meaning.

MD: How did that advance the text?

NB: You write one word, one sentence and you let it move through visual, homophonic, semantic resemblance, connotation. Most of the words have three, four, five meanings. I was trying to deploy each of them in one sentence.    
                                                  Double Change Interview 
                                                  with Nicole Brossard: 
                                                  On Translation & Other 
                                                  Such Pertinent Subjects
                                                  Marcella Durand

Although frequently called a lesbian feminist writer Turn of a Pang (1976) reveals an appreciation for heterosexuality that Nicole Brossard has exemplified with the spirit of hospitality in the celebration of eroticism and the esthetics of female beauty. The provocative idea of the redhead with the sumptuous mane of red hair has produced a poetic mini-novel that reveals a close focusing on the subject in a small scale novel that engenders a series of erotic memory/images.
Turn of a Pang (1976) is among the masterworks of innovative fiction that create of a ratio of poetic prose to linguistic theory in relation to an enlightened intertextuality, that has inspired the avant garde mini-novel with the theme of erotic relationships. This intellectual trend has produced the poetic novel in Canada which has evolved into the visual semiotic text, and word conscious writing techniques, that have generated the semantic structures of the innovative novel. True to esthetic theory the Canadian poetic novel has triumphed as an innovative genre with The Blue Books (2003) by Nicole Brossard.

David Detrich lives in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where he has just completed The Convergence of Two Narrative Lines Ascending, an ultramodern Surrealist novel written in minimal squares. He is working on Dream the Presence of the Circular Breast Starfish Topography, a monumental Surrealist novel written with innovative typographical design. His first novel Big Sur Marvels & Wondrous Delights (2001) is available from Amazon. He edits Innovative Fiction Magazine and Surrealist Star Clustered Illuminations. 


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You are currently reading Turn of a Pang by Nicole Brossard at Innovative Fiction Magazine .


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