Monday 9 May 2011


"You are about to meet -- and we hope fall in love with -- Typoo, who is truly a character, whose blood is typewriter-ribbon blue, whose eyes are lifted to asterisk stars..." So begins the blurb for Earl Conrad's Typoo. The novel was published in 1969, and narrates the life story of the character from whom the novel takes its title.

The narrative itself is short and surreal. As readers, we follow Typoo from birth through his education, his experimentation with drugs, his romantic forays, Olympic career, time as a circus performer, car racing, and eventual demise.

Typoo's uniqueness stems from the fact that it uses typewriter symbols and letters to compose images for its narrative. As it announces on its dust jacket, "Typoo is a new kind of literary hero. His adventures are all the more real because his world is only paper and typewriter keys". Of the novel itself, it continues, "Typoo is a new kind of cosmos and literary adventure wrought from the ancient keyboard of a 1915 Underwood Typewriter".

Here's an example double page (though, of course, all the pages are different):

In this extract, from early in the novel, the reader is being introduced to Typoo's friends (left hand page), a gang of boys called 'The Heads'. From L-R, T-B, we have Pinhead, Fathead, Masthead, Bonehead, Blockhead, and Meathead.

The pleasure of reading Typoo comes precisely from its quirkiness. Every page is an unexpected surprise. even the book's dedication has an amusing irony:

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Whilst not exactly on-topic, have you seen Codex, the forthcoming journal of typography? It looks like it'll be rather lush, but I doubt I'll shell out for it. It's brought to you by the people at I Love Typography.