Monday
Nov142011


Intention Implication Wind

By Ken Sparling


 

Pedlar Press
December 2011
978-1897141410

Reviewed by J.A. Tyler


 

Ken Sparling opened with Dad Says He Saw You at the Mall in 1996 and has continued barreling through the lit scene with book after book of astounding prose, complex plots, and characters that we immediately know and respond to. But his most recent novel Intention Implication Wind is not simply another notch in that belt—it is a book as a gift to the world of readers, a new connection with words so dense and beautiful that they are difficult to speak of. How do we talk about a book that unwinds as thread? What do we say about a novel that unspools?

As always with Sparling there are characters inside of characters and plots inside of plots, but here there is more, always more and more. There are characters who reflect characters and characters who reflect themselves in imagined others and characters written as metafictions of themselves or as moments that only exist on the page for an instant – all of this literally and metaphorically rendered as words echoing. So by the midpoint of Intention Implication Wind, we have a maze in a maze, a delightful puzzle of where and why and when. We get lost in this:

There is this guy. This other guy. This so totally not Chappy guy. This guy is so completely someone else. This guy is standing on a beach. Beside him is a woman. The woman, who is feeling something, is not Mirror. But it might have been Mirror. And the man might have been Chappy.

Or it might have been that the woman was Mirror, and the man was not Chappy.

Or that the man was Chappy, and the woman not Mirror.

Any of these permutations are possible in the sprawling future not yet seen.

I would be angered by a book that lost me in its pages, unless it was doing so with purpose—and Sparling has the most extreme resolve to wield above us: the world is a threat of words, a violence of phrases intersecting, our constant lust for someone who is not us to say what we haven't said. Intention Implication Wind is all about the wash of language, the veneer of letters on our faces whether we want them or accept them or even recognize that they are there. In waves of interlinked vignettes, Intention Implication Wind is a book about writing that is not about writing. Every page, every paragraph, every sentence is a message about understanding language, about holding words until they crush so hard into us that they become a part of our body, and we no longer have the choice to let go.

What is the story of Intention Implication Wind? This is an impossible question to answer. There is a story, the kernel of a man and his wife and the other relationships they have that swirl and ebb as all relationships do, but no, this is not enough—there is no way to define the plot of what Sparling has done here because what Sparling does here is smite us with writing about writing that refuses to sit still, that weaves and weaves until we aren't sure where it begins or ends but we no longer care, because we are surrounded by a bountiful ocean of wanderings:

The owl-eyed boy said nothing. The words he'd written stood on the page, unretractable.

 […]

She'd been waiting, listening, hoping to hear Chappy say something she'd never heard him say before. Something no one had ever said.

 […]

I wish every sentence told of sentences that never should have been.

 […]

If you could read every line at once, said Chappy, you might get what the poet was trying to say to you.

There are hundreds of these moments in Intention Implication Wind all focused on teaching us that within everything, everywhere, there is ever and always a danger of words. The trick is, what we do with those words when we can catch them:

Sometimes I have to go back and read a sentence over to figure it out. Sometimes I forget how to put words together. Then I have to go back and keep reading those few words over and over until I see how they might go together. When that happens I am amazed. Not at the writer who wrote the words. That's not why I'm amazed. I'm not amazed at the way that writer manages to get the words together and make them work together. I'm amazed at myself for rescuing any sort of meaning from the words.