about the author

Staff Book Reviewer Spencer Dew is the author of critical study The Aliites: Race and Law in the Religions of Noble Drew Ali (University of Chicago Press, 2019), novel Here Is How It Happens (Ampersand Books, 2013), critical study Learning for Revolution: The Work of Kathy Acker (San Diego State University Press, 2011), chapbook Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres (Another New Calligraphy, 2010), and short story collection Songs of Insurgency (Vagabond Press, 2008).

To send your new book to decomP for possible review, see our guidelines. To find out what’s currently under consideration, visit our review queue.

Bookmark and Share


font size

La Commedia Sotterranea della Macchina da Scrivere
A Review of
La Commedia Sotterranea della Macchina da Scrivere
by Marc Zegans

Spencer Dew

Presented as a folio of fragments, an elliptical archive of scattered textual artifacts from a movement called the Typewriter Underground, “what some have called the Salon Du Claque,” devotees of “the struck key, the pulled sheet and the thrill of receiving a smudged original passed by hand, source often unknown,” making the project of documenting the history of this group difficult, reliant on elusive originals, including some collages, where typewriter parts spool off into cosmic swirls and text, plus musical notation, clatters out to a clockwork cacophony palpable, like the soundtrack of a dream, “a soft habanera rising from the page.” Involved in conceptual art—putting hands in on prompts shouted from a theater audience, say—this subculture is half resistance movement (against something, including the lack of appreciation for the sensuality involved in pounding words onto paper) and half mystical fraternity, like spiritualists with their séance machines, only more percussive, out-rapping rappers and stamping down automatic transmissions with black permanence. Splintered into sectarian groups marked by their own sartorial devices (“The Hunt and Pecks,” for instance, have their in-group ties and rings, their single finger motto) there is a fugitive nature to the obsession, the addiction, shared across this Underground (“Can’t carry paper on the street these days / too much risk of being harassed and rolled”). The historical location for these rebels of ink-saturated ribbons is gradually revealed to be our own, this “internet world” where the novel, while not quite dead, is “After Umberto . . . just Eco,” and thus a new form—in these tatters, assembled post-scene—documents not plot but the propulsive piety of “Slews of unemployed creative writing / Graduates typing unfinished lined / On vintage blue Olivettis in the / Back of bar kitchens for illiterates,” like cyborgs of a bygone age, martyrs to the word as worthy of a certain ritual accoutrement, accompanied by shutter and chime and slide, taking a stand for absolute uniqueness in a world that is otherwise reduced to a copy of a copy of a copy.

Official Marc Zegans Web Site
Official Pelekinesis Web Site

HTML Comment Box is loading comments...