In the tradition of Zak Smith’s Pictures Showing What Happens on Each Page of Thomas Pynchon’s Novel Gravity’s Rainbow, the local art-book maker Mark Batty Publisher is putting out Illustrated Three-Line Novels: Félix Fénéon, a book of collages by Joanna Neborsky.
Backing up: A couple of years ago, Luc Sante and New York Review Books put out Novels in Three Lines, a collection of faits-divers written by the French editor, gallerist and anarchist Felix Fénéon. His three-line summaries of news items—used as column-filler for French newspapers in the first decade of the 20th century—were droll and suggestive, presenting historical anxieties and human venality reduced to their purest state. (An example: “Doing very nicely in his hospital diaper, a two-month-old infant has been found, in Plaine-Saint-Denis, by a piling of the Soissons bridge.”) The compression is key to both the dry wit and open-endedness—think of these as a Twitter feed avant la lettre. (And, as it turns out, après.)
Neborsky, who makes line drawings and collage, was naturally enough inspired to fill in the empty spaces around Fénéon’s “unwritten novels”—you can one interpretation above, and several more on the publisher’s website. Here’s another: