Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Mike Heppner's Man Talking Project

So maybe you've read my review of Mike Heppner's Talking Man at The Chapbook Review. Good. That's good. Now here's some more: last October, Justin Taylor talked about Heppner's work on HTMLGIANT. He said these things:

Talking Man is the second in a series of four thematically linked novellas to be published in 2008 and 2009. The first part, Man Talking (that was released–it’s actually the fourth novella in the series; don’t ask) is available as a FREE DOWNLOAD from Heppner’s website. Talking Man is being released in a gorgeous handmade, highly limited edition of 60. I can’t wait to get my hands on one, and you shouldn’t either.

The other two novellas–Man and Talking–will be released in December ‘08 and Sometime ‘09, respectively. No word on what format(s?) those works will be available in, but why don’t you stop worrying about that right now? You’re already two novellas down–time to get cracking.

Here is a rundown of the Man Talking Project on Heppner's own website:

Mike Heppner and Small Anchor Press announce Talking, the fourth and final in a series of novellas released in 2008 and 2009.

The Man Talking Project has been written about in The New Yorker on-line, The Christian Science Monitor, The Boston Globe, Conversational Reading, AdFreak, Maud Newton, Media Bistro, The Millions and HTMLGiant. Clare Dudman (98 Reasons for Being) calls the project "...a brilliant piece of writing... innovative, interesting, and absorbing..." and Neil Peart (Road Show) raves "...an artful examination of modern life, and modern love, with perfect dialogue, wry humor, (and) psychological insight."

The four novellas were written between 2007 and 2009. Three of the four were released in full over the past year. One cannot find the entire project in a single location, however it is possible to collect and read the project in its entirety.

Part One, Talking Man, was published in September 2008 by Small Anchor Press. Small Anchor Press is a Brooklyn-based independent press specializing in finely crafted handmade books. Talking Man can be purchased exclusively at SA's website, smallanchorpress.com. A second printing came out in February 2009.

Part Two, Man, was released in December 2008. Five hundred photocopies have been left in random locations across the United States for readers to find and comment on. Some of those comments can be read here.

Part Three, Man Talking, the third in the series (but the first to be made available), can be read for free here. Over four thousand readers have visited since Man Talking went on-line in April 2008.

Part Four, Talking, is a piece of writing; it's also a contest. One winner will receive a single-copy edition of Talking, entirely handwritten by Mike Heppner, plus signed copies of the other three sections. A short documentary film will feature the author awarding the prize to the winner in person (if practical). The winner is the first person to correctly guess the secret phrase, which can be found in one of Heppner's two full-length novels, The Egg Code and Pike's Folly. Both novels are available as Vintage paperbacks.

This takes the idea of requiring work of the reader to a new level. Check out the photos of where copies of Man were left all over the US. And that the last part is also a contest pretty much makes this the most interactive series of novellas ever, and a nice hook to sell some copies of his two previous novels. If one were to play along, Talking actually becomes much longer and more complicated since part of the experience is to search out and piece together the secret phrase, which requires reading two novels, which in any case binds and tangles the novels and the novellas into one huge interactive text. Heppner's project is fascinating in so many ways. To see the contest rules for Talking (I didn't see a deadline or anything, so I assume it's still on), check out Heppner's website.

A linky recap:
Mike Heppner's Man Talking project:
Part One: Talking Man, available from Small Anchor Press
Part Two: Man, check out the note, and then try to find one of the 500(+?) copies
Part Three: Man Talking, free pdf download
Part Four: Talking, "a piece of writing; it's also a contest"

Also: The Making of Talking Man: "Correspondence between Mike Heppner and Jen Hyde [of Small Anchor Press] (July 23 – December 1, 2008)"

And also: read an excerpt of Mike Heppner's novel The Egg Code

And also as well:

1 comment:

CM said...

Interesting stuff, Josh, thanks for the post.