Michael C. Boyko's
The Hour Sets (Calamari, 2007)
reviewed by Brandon Hobson

I first read an excerpt of Michael Boyko's The Hour Sets online at Conjunctions before realizing his afflatus would have such an impact on me. What Derek White at Calamari Press has done here is publish a terrific book with odd and attractive illustrations (White does all the artwork for Calamari books) and fine looking text that right away offers the title's significance through Boyko's brief introduction:

They are called the Hour Sets, and divided into hours, not because each cultural period lasts only an hour, but 1 hour is how long you must study the symbols of each cultural period in order to learn everything about it. The remaining 12 hours of each day are spent forgetting what you have learned about each cultural period, in the order you have learned it, by engaging only the symbols of your own cultural period. This is called sleep.

Boyko's prose is laid out like prose poetry, or flash fiction, subtitled with The Occupant, The Researcher, and The Academy. There are many objects found at The Academy, such as rabbit and snake skins, a stone figure of a girl, various books and cots, tools, clothing, a layer of fine white dust, among many other things -- which, at first glance, might sound incantatory, but turn out to be precise and brisk: precisely what's needed for the Researcher's list to study various symbols from cultural periods as noted above. The book is short, morphed into a strange world of discovery, and Boyko knows all the twists in his genre: he delights in his material, and his compassion, like the Researcher's, is infectious.