A Book Sprinkled With Vowels
The book took seven years to write and proved a real labour of love for the author, because each chapter is univocalic – every one of the five sections uses just one vowel. As if that weren’t enough of a challenge, Bok set himself further stipulations in the production of his work: each chapter had to contain a voyage, a banquet and an orgy, and must allude to the art of writing. In addition, Bok has tried to avoid repetition, and by doing so has used around 98% of the words available to him.
Bok has given each vowel its own personality: “A” is courtly, “I” is egotistical and romantic; “O” is rude and jokey; “E” is elegaic and epic, and “U” is obscene, and he is remarkably successful at conveying this idea in each chapter. Thus we hear the story of “Helen, the new-wed empress… restless, she deserts her fleece bed where, detested, her wedded regent sleeps” (Chapter E), of Ubu, who “struts … snuffs up drugs… hugs Ruth” and does plenty more things unmentionable here (Chapter U), and of the first person narrator who finds “thinking within strict limits is stifling” (Chapter I).