The Experiment Will Not Be Bound highlights celebrated and new voices that, as editor Peter Campion says, share “a particular combination of openness and intention, curiosity and assertion.” Indeed, the authors included in this anthology “venture out onto the skinny branches of their own sensibilities,” in Campion’s words.
This book, though, is not just an anthology of some inspired experimental writing but an experimental anthology in form. Being unbound — physically and philosophically — allows the pieces included here to live in any order, to find the fit that works best for any reader, to be read randomly, sequentially, or thematically. With a foreword and extraordinary book photography by Catherine Gass, The Experiment Will Not Be Bound is, to a degree, an homage to William H. Gass and his bold, experimental vision for his masterpiece, The Tunnel.
“Authors break free of convention in this unbound collection of experimental writing… A bold, build-your-own anthology with some impressive names and inspired pieces.”
Excerpt – Maryam
It’s early morning at Watergate Bay, and high tide, judging by how little space we have next to the cliffs. The nine-hundred-ninety-eight other women have set up their tents as close to the rocks as they can. They’ve woven their hair into tight buns at the nape of their necks, and
they’re doing a sort of whimsical gymnastics, circling their arms and swinging them up and back. Frau Elena stands in the center like an orchestra conductor, demanding that each woman sing her scales. She’s dividing them all into soprano and alto, then further subdividing them
based on their native languages. I’m the only one who’s gone out of the circle and have started washing my feet in the ice-cold water. I’ve claimed it’s good for my circulation, that my feet ache from the journey. I’ve told them I’m not used to the food here, that I miss fish.
And Frau Elena, tight-lipped and sharp-voiced, nodded and said that was all right.
Here, the air feels like a canceled piece of glass. The wind stings my face and makes me turn my cheek. The water and sand mix fills the spaces between my toes, which are worn down from so much gripping and clambering on rocks. The smell is of rotten fish and fresh seaweed
mixed. My borrowed dress is itchy around the waist. It’s mild here, and for that I give thanks.
This place feels like a haven, for a bit. It reminds me of the winter hut of Thurídur Einarsdóttir, that eighteenth-century fisherwoman who lived in a stone hut covered with grass in the wintertime, when she returned from her fishing missions. In her career, she made the biggest catches and never lost a single member of her crew.
It used to be that I believed I could be like her, but a singer. I used to think I could catch Absolute Music in my hands and carry it like an infant. I used to think the song could rise out of me, and me alone. But that was all earlier, before I lost my own child.
“Maryam,” someone calls, and I shake my head. “Maryam, come in.”