The UK's Daily Mail praises Eunoia

By Stephanie Cross
Daily Mail
November 19 2009

Do vowels have characters? It might sound less like a question than the title of a Christmas novelty read - and there is undeniably something of the stocking filler about Christian Bok's Eunoia, a book based on the party-game premise of allowing only one vowel per chapter (or verse: is this poetry?).

What emerges, however, is that yes, those useful little letters do indeed have personalities: 'u' is muscular, unpleasant and obscene; 'e' epic, given to 'resplendent scenes'.

In addition to characterising each vowel, Bok's chapters also tell versions of the same story, all including a voyage, a banquet and (be warned!) a 'prurient debauch'. The result is a kind of tapestry of assonance and onomatopoeia, through which occasional beautiful perspectives sometimes appear: 'creeks wend between beech trees, then end where freshets feed the meres'; 'A black asp crawls past a sawgrass marsh that has algal tarns'.

Bok might restrict his vocabulary but, as this book demonstrates, the delights of language are infinite.

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