Sunday, January 25, 2009


A unique, erotic, ironic and spastic voice has splattered onto the scene with the publication of Sean Stanley's Etcetera and Otherwise.  Otherwise, the Protagonist, and Etcetera, his beloved, named one another when they met in his bookstore.  She tells him from the start that she will remain with him for only 28 days, and this limiting factor acts as a structural code for the text.

    Each chapter is named after the number of days remaining for their love (unrequited though it is, with Etcetera refusing to tell Otherwise she loves him).  On their adventure to see the sunrise from the western most point of the earth, they meet with fantastical characters such as THE MARKETER and Miss Ogyny.  THE MARKETER abducts Etcetera, which spurs Otherwise to heroics.

    One of the main tensions of the book is Etcetera's refusal to admit love for Otherwise.  His requests for it are moving and humbling.  Etcetera asserts, "Real love is practical and unromantic as air and water and sunlight, and stone.  I don't love you, Otherwise, but I find you chivalrous.  Men have died for less."  Etcetera's frank logic breaks down when she leaves Otherwise 15 days into their adventure so it doesn't have to hurt so much when she leaves him later.

    The text is filled with zany pleasures such as, "'Our parents were very nearly the same people.'  'Very nearly," Etcetera smiled, 'They were separated only by a single day, one city street and three kilograms of If.'"  The juxtaposition of logic and illogic is one of the central pleasures of the text.  The fairy tale qualities of the story are highlighted by the accompanying illustrations.  These images feature quotes from the text like a Beatrix Potter book.  However, the frank eroticism of the writing often disproves the efficacy of this comparison.  I'll end on an example of the beauty of the text, "we saw a race of infants...spending their days finger painting their pain upon the limestone."  I wait with baited breath for Stanley's second book.  

(Angela Hibbs)