The individual vignettes and episodes in Tlooth are, however, more memorable than the framing story. Some of the prison camp inmates are involved with the production and international distribution of maple syrup, using it as cover for smuggling illegal Chinese medicine. An esoteric history of a feud between the families of the Chavenders and the Allants includes a two page document in a mish-mash of languages. There is a passage describing a sexual encounter in which the orthography degrades as the encounter progresses: "She lay on her knack and i lelt straddling her, my bees in her armpits, heading over her lean, my rest head and onds owning on the floor beyarmed her." (A useful device for evading censorware, though also guaranteed to give spell-checkers the fits.) An account of a flood in Rajasthan, in which ants help to rescue cattle, falls half-way between fable and ethnography. And so forth.
Though many of its individual parts are entertaining and provoking, others don't come off so successfully, and Tlooth as a whole doesn't really hang together. It's a must for devotees of Oulipo-style experimental literature (though written before Mathews became a member of the Oulipo himself), but may not appeal to a much wider audience.
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- books published by Dalkey Archive Press