February 14, 2008

Up Right Down, Schlemiel, Schlimazel

by Nick Montfort · , 7:03 am

For the first issue of Up Right Down, writers and other narrative artists were invited to find various different ways to tell the same story:

In a bistro in Paris a young woman (A) tells her three girlfriends (B, C, and D) about the affair she had with an American tourist, who returned home promising to write, and hasn’t. It’s been over two weeks; something must have happened to him. (She has just learned she is carrying his child, but she doesn’t tell her friends.) B tells her to call him; C to e-mail him; D to forget all about him. Enter a fat American couple; each of them has a different speech impediment. They order food. The man chokes. A performs the Heimlich maneuver on him, and saves his life.

That they did; at the time of the issue’s launch today, there were two plays, eight stories, three poems, one animation, and two illustrations. This set includes “Around the Bush,” a play by Paul Fournel, president of the Oulipo. The site also hosts five univocalic versions of the story. My own contribution is a poem entitled “He Did, Eh?” You can get a sense of the (initial) reach of the project by checking out the people involved so far – the contributors and URD‘s editorial board. New tellings of this tale will be added regularly to the site, and are still being accepted. You are invited to submit your own version.