Aleph, alpha: nought, nought, one.

Issue 2

20 September 2000

Spiral-Bound Index -- An archive of back issues.

A) Introduction:

Hello, and welcome to the second edition of Spiral-Bound, The Modern Word's newsletter. My name is Allen Ruch -- the fellow with the nickname of "Quail" -- and I'm the editorial director of the site. (I started it as the Libyrinth back in 1995 -- some of you may remember that!) After I re-launched the Libyrinth as The Modern Word, I decided that a newsletter might be a good way to keep in contact with people interested in the sort of literature the site likes to feature -- high quality, experimental, twentieth-century literature, from the Modernism of Joyce to the "magic realism" of the Latin American Boom. Spiral-Bound will contain links to new additions on the site, recommended links to off-site resources, excerpts from book reviews, and general notices. Although it was initially conceived as a biweekly newsletter, we plan to release issues monthly until some of our future sites come online.

It is also my intention that this newsletter be a community effort, and to make this idea a reality, I have created a new Internet mailing list through eGroups, called "the Spiral-Bound List." The purpose of this list is to create an environment where enthusiasts of modern literature may discuss various books and authors. If the List takes off, I hope we'll conduct book readings, post reviews, and share links among a community of readers who enjoy more challenging literature. The URL is:

You can go there to sign up. We are also researching the technology to create our own hosted List, which would free us of the Yahoo and eGroups advertising framework. More on that as it develops!

B) Notes on Technology:

The Modern Word has selected a new hosting company, Interland, and since we switched over our technical problems have been solved. Thank you to everyone who showed their concern and kept us abreast of the problems during the summer -- it was greatly appreciated!

C) Fiction Writing Workshop:

One exciting new development has beenour new relationship with Gotham Writers' Workshop. GWW has long had a reputation for being the oldest and best provider of writing classes in New York City, offering courses in subjects ranging from poetry to screenwriting. Recently GWW has launched an online program, and now offers their ten-week writing courses using a "virtual classroom" technology that incorporates live classes, email-based lessons, class bulletin boards, individual and group feedback, and advice on publishing. Their classes have been very successful, with a very high return rate, and have begin to reach an audience extending far outside of New York.

The Modern Word and GWW have recently created a joint online class, "Modern Fiction I." The purpose of this class is to teach fiction writing to people who have an interest in fiction slanted towards the modern, be it stream-of-consciousness dialogue or trends such as magic realism. Although it will still follow the "basics," the examples and readings will tend towards authors found on the Libyrinth. If the classes are successful, and if there is interest, we may develop a "Modern Fiction II" class for advanced students.

If you are interested in taking a look at Modern Fiction I you may visit the introduction page here:

If you are interested in seeing what other classes offered by GWW, you may use this link:

D) Survey:

The first round of our visitors' survey has been concluded, and we are currently looking at the results. As promised, there will be several prizewinners. These people will be announced in next month's issue, and will receive either a copy of Borges' Collected Fictions or the unabridged Dubliners on Harper Audio.

There will be a Round 2 survey placed online in a few weeks, one pitched more for students. (People who have filled out the first survey are asked not to take the second.)

E) The Daily Muse -- A Call for Submissions:

One recent feature on the Modern Word is the "Daily Muse," a literary tidbit which changes daily, such as a quote, trivia question, or word of the day. I would like to open the Daily Muse up to subscribers of Spiral-Bound -- if anyone has a favorite quote they would like to contribute, or a literary trivia question, or a literary word of the day, please email it to me at If I select your submission, I will enter your name in a contest for a small prize -- a $20 gift certificate to, to be awarded bimonthly.

F) What's New at the Modern Word?

The following notable recent additions have been made to The Modern Word:

Modern Fiction I
Our new class, launched in cooperation with Gotham Writers' Workshop. This course will present the fundamentals of structure, description, characterization, point of view, dialogue, and plot, with particular emphasis on various models of narrative and voice. Lectures will focus on how twentieth century writers both break from and re-conceive English literary conventions. Students should expect to finish working drafts of two short pieces or the beginning of a novel, while working towards the development of their own voices as writers.

Gabo "Farewell" Hoax
Recently a poem, "La marioneta," has been circulated around the Internet and has even appeared in some Latin American papers. Believed to be a "farewell letter" written by an ailing Garcia Marquez, it was in fact shown to be a poem about, well, a marionette. Details and news links available at Macondo.

Spermatikos Logos Revision
The Libyrinth's Pynchon page has recently been extensively revised, with dozens of new links, reviews, books, and papers placed online. A new section ("Guides") has been added which breaks down his work book by book, providing links to resources targeted for those specific novels. Oh, and fans of V. and Mason & Dixon may be pleased to know there are two new books on the horizon -- A Companion to V., and Pynchon and Mason and Dixon.

Two Pynchon Group Readings
Two Internet-based group readings of Pynchon's novels are about to launch in early October. The first, V., will be conducted by the Pynchon-L. The second, The Crying of Lot 49, will be conducted by "Tyrone Slothrop," who has created a site to host the reading. Interested newcomers are welcome!

Latin American Interest
Issue 61 of the the Americas Society Review is out. Also added to both Macondo and the Garden of Forking Paths: links to another LAS literary publication, The Latin American Literary Review, and links to a new center for Latin American literature.

New Borges Lectures
In a Borgesian twist, cassettes have recently been discovered -- tapes of Borges' late sixties lectures at Harvard! These new lectures have been collected in print for the first time in a slim hardcover, This Craft of Verse. A review is forthcoming.

Joycean Film
Two new projects: A Shout from the Streets, a short indie film inspired by Ulysses, premiers September 21 in NYC; and a new cinematic version of Ulysses itself has been announced. This multi-million dollar Irish film will star Stephen Rea as Bloom, and begin shooting on Bloomsday 2001.

New Eco Information
A few new and interesting things at Porta Ludovica: a paper on Eco and electronic music, a link to a 1996 interview with Eco, a link to an article by translator William Weaver, and information on Shadow of Reason, a book on art with an essay by the Professor. Also, Specula, a new mailing list devoted to discussion of his works, is still looking for new members.

G) What's in the Works?

Current submissions for Scriptorium sites include pieces on Kobo Abe and Zulfikar Ghose; both should be online soon. Pieces on Angela Carter, Philip K. Dick, and William Gass have also just been promised. The Modern Word's Literary Board of Advisors has also picked the "Next Ten" authors for full Libyrinth sites:

Samuel Beckett
Italo Calvino
Ralph Ellison
William Faulkner
Carlos Fuentes
Franz Kafka
Vladimir Nabokov
Thomas Mann
Marcel Proust
Virginia Woolf

Of these, sites on Beckett and Woolf are under currently construction and should open in late 2000, and sites on Fuentes and Calvino are in the planning phases. If you have any information or ideas about these authors, please contact me!

H) Featured Off-Site Links:

Grammatron 1.0
Mark Amerika's hypertext novel has been making the news lately. It is sprawling, innovative, and quite interesting....

First Line Index
How good are you at identifying these first lines?

Booksmith Authors Trading Cards
An amusing and informative project.

Thank you, and I'll see you in a month!