Thursday, September 15, 2011

Woman's World by Graham Rawle

Woman's World by Graham Rawle

Woman's World is a novel constructed entirely of text (and images) cut from magazines. Women's magazines from the early 1960s. My friend Nancy assigned it to me as part of my 2011 take-a-chance reading challenge.

I'm at a bit of a loss as to how to write about Woman's World without including spoilers. I'm usually anti-spoiler, but in this case I think it's especially important. I think the best way to experience Woman's World is to come at it without any preconceived notions and let the novel reveal itself.

Woman's World is odd and it's not just because of its construction. I can't say that I enjoyed reading it. I marveled at the layout of each page, but I read the story with a profound sense of foreboding. All is not right within the protagonist's family. Readers experience suspicion, then certainty, but the full truth of the matter is revealed only slowly.

The story is engrossing and unexpectedly atmospheric, but one never ceases to notice the underlying collage. The pieced-together text isn't distracting, though, it adds to the narrative. Woman's World is composed of women's magazines, but it is also very much about women's magazines, the voice with which they speak, and ideas they are trying to sell to their readers.

What I liked best about Woman's World is that Rawle included a piece on the making of the book. The piece is short, but fascinating. Rawle explains the construction of one page in 40,000 Not-Very-Easy Pieces (skip the introductory paragraph if you don't want any spoilage).


  1. This looks interesting to me, not necessarily because of the story but because of the look of the text. I can imagine it would take a long time to construct this book, and I wonder if the plot of the story changed any to fit the magazine bits that the author had on hand/may not have been able to find, or if he was able to stay true to his original story... (the link was broken so I googled images of the inside of the book.) Really, it looks super cool on the inside. Thanks for sharing about this book because I've never seen anything quite like it.


  2. Thanks for catching the broken link - I've just fixed it.
    If I remember correctly it took him 5 years to construct the book and in the making-of piece, Rawle does talk a bit about having to use what he had changed the narrative.