Directory by Christopher Linforth (review by Levi Andrew Noe)

by | Jun 29, 2020 | Blog, Reviews

Sauteing your Sense of Self

We are at a loss with how to describe this book in any cumulative, definitive way. 

We don’t want to summarize or euphemize or categorize a book that was not built for “I”s (see what we did there?). 

So we will just say that the heart of this book, to us, lies in the question posed by Linforth: “What is it to be I versus we?”

All right, I’ll switch POV now and leave the first person plural to this experimental novel.

The entire book, I was walking along with a refrain of voices, most of them twins, asking myself what does it mean to speak plurally? What does it mean to write this way? What does it mean to read this way?

Linforth describes the emergence of this conceptual novel as “a pseudo-chorus…one person with the voice of two or three, interchanging their identity at every turn…a directory of identities.” (See the full interview here:

The way I would describe the experience of reading this novel is like being disembodied, having my mind dichotomized and dissected, then re-bodied into a twin’s skin, trying to comprehend the world from a perspective with no singular self. At first it was discombobulating, but as I learned to reorient myself within the wonders of this book, I felt a strange sense of elation, freedom and identification. 

The elation and freedom came from the genre-bending, experimental form of the novel itself. It is like a heady cocktail: one part flash (most pieces are under 500 words), one part innovative form, one part novel of interconnected short, short stories, with a garnish of genre-bending. Shake it all up, add dry ice for effect and you’re left with something unlike any writing you’ve probably ever experienced before. It’s refreshing at times, shocking, disorienting and puzzling at others, but throughout the entire book you follow a thread of tender humanity that begs you to identify with a perspective that squeezes, prods and stabs at the heart in a multiplicity of ways. 

If you, too, like your heart wrung out like a dishrag, your mind chopped and sautéed, and your assumptions challenged, this is a book well worth reading. Even if you don’t particularly think you’re the type for corporeal wringing, you’d be surprised at the breadth and intensity this poignant book of 72 pages offers the curious reader. 

Levi Andrew Noe

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