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).