Forget boring old prose! Experimental literature is all about pushing boundaries—from genre to formatting to narrative structure, even spelling and grammar. Here are some of our favorites from the Orem Library collection that show just how weird (and fun) books can get. Come into the library and check out our experimental literature display in the fiction area this month for many more interesting and unique titles.
By Mark Z. Danielewski
A chilling horror story about a man who finds a door that shouldn’t exist in his house, and chronicles his explorations of the mysterious labyrinth he finds beyond. This book is complex as the labyrinth described in the pages, with stories nested within stories, parallel narratives taking place within footnotes, and unusual formatting and use of color throughout the text. Great for explorers of the limits of the written word.
By Kitty Curran
Remember choose-your-own-adventure novels? Well, this one’s for adults! Pick your own path through this full-length hilarious and self-aware regency romance.
By Mark Dunn
A hilarious book that uses fewer and fewer letters throughout the book as they get “banned” when they fall off the statue at the center of town. Come for the silly spelling, stay for the thought-provoking tale about censorship and freedom of expression. A full set of twelve is also available to check out for reading together as a book group!
By Italo Calvino
An exercise in beginnings, this novel consists of ten totally unique first chapters for different novels, interspersed with the tale of an increasingly frustrated man reading each first chapter and struggling to find the continuation only to be ambushed by yet another first chapter. A playful and intriguing candy box of a novel.
By Russell Hoban
A curious fable-like book about a boy growing up in a post-apocalyptic Britain where written language has been forgotten, written in a kind of pidgin English the author imagined the protagonist using. Be careful, you might end up misspelling words like the author did! Fun fact: The author, Russell Hoban, also wrote the Bedtime for Frances children’s books.
By Milorad Pavic
A fictionalized account of the 8th century conversion of the Khazar empire to Judaism and its subsequent disappearance, written in the form of three mini-encyclopedias—one for each religion which had a stake in the events. Put together, the volumes relay a mostly complete (if biased and often conflicting) picture of the events. Recommended for fans of “Rashomon” or if, like many of us, you were that kid who loved reading the encyclopedia.
By Ursula K. LeGuin
LeGuin brings her anthropological roots to bear in this investigation into an indigenous society living in Napa valley in the far distant future after the collapse of civilization. It may be slow to get moving, but yields a rich and fascinating view of a culture that never was, including religion, folktales, poetry, and even recipes! Cook along with the book and try the hearty Valley Succotash, or the “Fat-Fat”—a cream and fresh fruit dessert.
By Alejandro Zambra
Written in the form of a standardized test, “Multiple Choice” is an absurd, funny, and occasionally somber reflection on education and how culture and history is transmitted between generations (whitewashing and all). A fast, humorous, and thought-provoking book from a rising star of Chilean literature.
By Lucy Ellmann
A thousand-page brick of a book that consists of just one sentence, written as an inner dialogue or stream-of-consciousness narrative. The relatable narrator, a woman living in present-day Newcomerstown, Ohio, mulls over a variety of topics, ranging from her concerns about global and societal problems to her opinions on classic movies. An intriguing experiment (even if you don’t read the whole thing).
Written by Austin M. (General Reference and Media)