cover image Sprawl


Danielle Dutton, Siglio (SPD, dist.), $18 paper (144p) ISBN 978-0-9799562-3-2

The run-on text of Dutton's archly comic first novel (after story collection Attempts at a Life) forms, literally, a block of prose: the book itself is nearly square in shape, and the story consists of a single long paragraph. The unnamed narrator lives in a sprawling suburb with her husband, Haywood. In lieu of a conventional plot, there's a series of observations and reveries, prompted by such events as the narrator and Haywood seeing a movie in which the blonde heroine says "magnificent" as her "eyes shine with tears." Elsewhere, the narrator shares the minute rituals of a pet cat, has a 19th-century daydream inspired by a sunny morning, and dissects her appearance in a mirror and the dinner on a table. As the narrative proceeds, some change is seen, largely in Haywood's disillusion with marriage and with his wife's increasingly brittle musings. This experimental novel is best read in a single sitting and, like the photographs that inspired it, can be viewed in any number of ways, with a different effect each time. (Aug.)