Click through for my review of THE HOUR SETS by Michael C. Boyko, the second in my full-press review series of Calamari books.
‘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.’
Michael C. Boyko’s THE HOUR SETS has several connections with the previous title P.S. AT LEAST WE DIED TRYING TO MAKE YOU IN THE BACKSEAT OF A TAXIDERMIST, a chapbook by Wendy Collin Sorin & Derek White:
First, Boyko’s title is also arranged into a concrete structure, which I found oddly entrancing – each of its twelve hour sets formulated into three parts:
‘The researcher paces to the 6 o’clock station and begins to shiver. He removes a rolled up sweatshirt from his pack, zips it up and puts on the hood. He blows into his fists, then gathers some snow from the large mound and forms a snowball. His throw toward the gnomon is interrupted by a blast of wind that reduces the snowball to powder, redistributing it back on the mound’
‘Objects Found at Station #6:
-A large mound of snow, very white, no dirt, approximately 10’high by 12′ wide. Any snow removed from the pile is picked up by a slow draft and deposited back on the pile within an hour of its removal.’
The Occupant (x 2-5)
‘It doesn’t feel like a game anymore. Maybe because we are no longer children, she and I, but puppeteers of the highest order. She finds a way, sinks the knife in every time, refuses to diminish the glee, as if it is something static’
Secondly, also in this title White’s artwork accompanies each segment &, through reflection & refraction, frames the words in provocative visuals. A nice & comfortable way to remain present in the text.
Third, & my last comparison between these first two titles of my full-press review, both P.S. & THE HOUR SETS lack any author bios or back cover blurbs. I know that some Calamari titles do feature one or even both of these fairly standard literary elements, but I wonder how much was individual author influence or earlier editorial decisions. & those this doesn’t affect the quality or reading of these titles, I do find it to be a point of intrigue for what it potentially says about a press’ aesthetic.
In any case, the prominent & fairly static structure of THE HOUR SETS does not detract from or stunt the reading – in fact, I found it soothing to know what was coming next, what was expected. & though the work itself often times did not divulge enough for me as a reader, the leaning towards learning & research investment as authorial tools was particularly interesting, & held a taut line between dis– & –engagement.
Next up, GOOD, BROTHER by Peter Markus. Stay tuned.