showtime: Lance Olsen’s 10:01

Mingo just handed me a copy of Lance Olsen’s new novel 10:01. Where Olsen’s previous novel Girl Imagined by Chance deliberately blurred the lines betwen memoir and photography, 10:01 similarly seeks to smudge the edges where fiction and film intersect. Olsen sets the novel in a movie theater (more specifically, amidst the sprawling Mall of America in Minneapolis, MN), where random strangers meet up not to converse but to largely ignore each other. Olsen’s narrative floats row to row, seat to seat, revealing their silent thoughts and deepest secrets as they wait for the movie to begin, collectively staring into a massive blank screen. The only structuring device is a time code, ticking away the minutes and microseconds.

Olsen presented 10:01 to us here at CCC last week. He used an innovative approach in his reading, randomly inserting the names of his live audience into the text as he read it. Most remarkable, though, was the sneak peek we got of a lush, Flash-powered hypertext version of 10:01 that both complimented and confounded the dead trees edition. Olsen collaborated with multimedia artist Tim Guthrie to create the electronic version, which is scheduled to make its world wide web debut early next month.

I’m consistently inspired by Olsen’s projects, and he’s clearly in some heady philosophical spaces with his last four offerings. If smart, speculative work is your bag, be sure to pick this one up.

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