You should surf yourself right over to amazon.com right now and buy [A Novel by Ken Sparling]. If that didn't convince you to do it, then here are nine reasons why you should:
It has no title. There is no title on the front cover, no title on the spine, no title on the title page. On page 80, there is this, though: "Authors often change the title of a book during or upon completion of the writing process. Hence the use of a working title." I don't know what this means, or how this relates to the book that Sparling wrote not having a title, but there is a sense of wonder in it.
Sparling doesn't bother with any explicit plot or any traditional idea of what a character is. There are plenty of other writers doing that and there don't seem to be any other writers doing what Sparling is doing.
On page 24, in italics there is this: "How to describe adequately what might contain us, what we might contain." This, if you must know, is what the novel is about.
On page 28, there is this: "Alan got a bag out of the drawer in his desk. Put things in. Tied the bag. Untied it. Counted the things. Put them back. Tied the bag." I don't know what Sparling was trying to get at with this, but I took it to be an explanation of the structure of the novel.
Hal Niedzviecki wrote that Ken Sparling is "a man who tried to bridge the divide between artistic hubris and the beautiful details that connote the pointlessness of everyday life." Here is a sentence where he does it: "We lose sight of the importance of sleep, potatoes, the small stand of trees in an otherwise unremarkable park, the place of the hot dog vendor."
This novel doesn't seem to have limitations. It isn't limited by plot or by character description. The next word in the sentence could be any word, the next sentence any sentence.
On page 188, there is a chapter that begins "Rogm hgj" and this is then followed by more letters that don't seem to become words. I think Sparling is insisting on nonsense on this page to remind us that the rest of the novel, as funny as it is, isn't nonsense in any sense of the word.
In some ways, Sparling seems to be after some of the same things that Stanley G. Crawford was after in Some Instructions to My Wife or Ben Marcus was in The Age of Wire and String or Richard Blanchard was in The High Traverse, but Sparling's book is different from all of these books in the way that they are all different from each. But like these three other books, Sparling's [A novel by Ken Sparling] is a strange book that does wonderful things.
Here is the part of the review that I hope ends up on the back of Sparling's next novel: Ken Sparling has written the great Canadian novel.
Originally published in the late lamented Taint.