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4.33  ·  Rating Details ·  252 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
Published in 1994, Crystallography was a gem of a book, an instant hit that was nominated for the Gerald Lampert Award. It has been unavailable for an ice age, and Coach House Books is proud to bring it back.

'Crystallography' means the study of crystals, but also, taken literally, 'lucid writing.' The book exists in the intersection of poetry and science, exploring the rel
Paperback, 160 pages
Published April 19th 1999 by Coach House Books (first published April 20th 1994)
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Douglas Summers-Stay
Sep 26, 2014 Douglas Summers-Stay rated it really liked it
Shelves: borgesian, poetry
I must have read this book just before I started on goodreads. My favorite poem in the book is the one that begins

Fractals are haphazard maps
that entrap entropy in tropes.

Fractals tell their raconteurs
to counteract at every point
the contours of what thought
recounts (a line, a plot): recant
the chronicle that cannot coil
into itself & let the story stray
off course, its countless details,
pointless detours, all en route
toward a tour de force, where
the here & now of nowhere is.

Don't ramble --
Jul 24, 2008 Adam rated it really liked it
I'm adding another star. Liking this more now. It's pretty interesting. At least it is based on research. Some of the ideas it suggests about language are puzzling in a good way. At least someone is thinking.

This is what I wrote before:

I wish I could give this 3.5 stars.

It requires a little more from the reader than something of its depth merits.

It is quite good.

Some moments in it are amazing.

The complexity, at points, of the paradigm within which he intentionally constrains himself, too, can be
Jan 06, 2015 i! rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
We all love Bok because Bok plays games,
pulls strings and plays fey when prompted.
Coy is Bok's waylay. When I say coy or fey
I mean strange and playful, with strict structures'
effects of French stricture and Oulip scripture,
script writ gay and made great, but unfortunately
affected by having nothing to say.

I used to write stuff like this, and to some extent still do, however, there's a reason why I don't write like that anymore, or rather feel guilty when I do. Bok is the extreme, pro-level t
Jim Elkins
Apr 01, 2014 Jim Elkins rated it it was ok
Shelves: canadian
At the moment, Bök is probably one of the two most-read conceptual writers in English; the other is Kenneth Goldsmith, who is thanked in the book. "Eunoia" is a more consistent book, but raises some of the same issues.

Four reactions to this book, arranged pseudo-scientifically, like Bök's arrangements, leading from local to larger-scale issues.

1. The ghost of Escher

From an art historical or art critical point of view, it's a bad sign that the book begins with a page-long quotation from Escher,
Brent Legault
Apr 13, 2008 Brent Legault rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: the pallindromic, the anagramatic
I am not normally intimidated by mere poetry. Even when confused or dumbfounded, I always think, "Well, they're only words, after all." But I might have met my match with Crystallography. Never once, while reading this many (ahem) faceted book of poems, did I think to myself, "Well, they're only words, after all." More often I felt, "I am reading a book that has been written by an alien."

Alien can mean foreign (and in fact it wasn't too many years ago, maybe a hundred or so, when it meant nothin
Jan 16, 2014 Carolyn rated it really liked it
The syllabus for undergraduate biology students "highly recommends" that students purchase the perennial classic Henderson's Dictionary of Biology. These are the words of life, but science is an island of vocabulary. Our technical language is precise, beautiful, and highly enmeshed. In Crystallography, Bök provides a survey of scientific knowledge and terminology, relating the language of crystallography to the English language as a whole. His poems, read aloud, comprise perfect inflections. Con ...more
Jessica Bebenek
Oct 22, 2012 Jessica Bebenek rated it it was amazing
Shelves: thesis, poetry
I read this after having *experienced* Eunoia and, for me, it was a much appreciated step back in time with Bok. I love his work in conceptualism, but I often find that it strays too far on the side of concept and with not enough of a focus on final product for my taste.

Crystallography was perfect for me. I loved the blend of science and poetry, the overall conceit of the gems/words comparison, the experimentation with form, from concrete to lyric--even including a translucent sheet of overlay.
Jun 22, 2016 Amy rated it it was amazing
A tour de force of typography-- poetic crystals and fractals formed using letters and words as the chemical elements.
Jan 11, 2008 Daniel rated it it was amazing
wowwww... here's a book that blew my hair back, even if I was hopelessly outwitted for large stretches. bök leads us through a mirror-chamber of snowflakes and blades, right up to the edge of madness, and then touchingly steps back. it feels like your efforts to comprehend an individual fragment of this text sharpens that fragment, and when you do finally understand it, it cuts you. definitely compels multiple readings for the things you didn't stop to sharpen on the first visit. at the moment I ...more
Feb 15, 2016 SR rated it really liked it
A really beautifully designed book. The contents have a lot of wonderfully expressed thoughts on language, materials, words, organization, civilization - not to mention gemstones. As a materials scientist I was a bit miffed at some of the fluffed/flawed technical terminology - glass isn't a slow liquid! it just isn't! stop! - but these were infrequent. Really interested in more of the author's work.
Jul 07, 2016 Gavin rated it it was amazing
The range of knowledge engaged, along with a playful occlusion of science and creative writing, makes this book a delight to experience, even when it gets a bit ponderous in places. A tour de force for a 25 year old guy writing his first book. Impressive and fun all at the same time.
Don Gochenour
Aug 09, 2014 Don Gochenour rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
While there were standouts for me, like "DIAMONDS," overall I felt that this collection is too heavy-handed. There's a feeling of trying just a little too hard and rarely did I find myself truly pulled into the work.
Jun 25, 2008 Amy rated it it was amazing
A poet I just talked to called Bök's writing "a poison crystal." I loved her enthusiasm but totally disagreed. It's not poison. It's more like prism or piston for me.
Luke Bradford
Mar 17, 2015 Luke Bradford rated it it was amazing
Shelves: experimental
This book is fascinating. It's a beautiful look at language through a strange lens that turns poems into artifacts or works of abstract art.
Just Zack
Jun 28, 2012 Just Zack rated it it was amazing
sheer delight and shiny too. satisfying, like opening a sparkly geode for the first time.
Lauren Klotz
Jan 17, 2010 Lauren Klotz rated it really liked it
pages 66 and onward = 5 stars

pages prior to 66 = 2 stars
Nov 02, 2009 Ian rated it really liked it
Poetry + geology. A great book.
Oct 27, 2014 M. rated it it was amazing
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Christian Bök (born Christian Book) is a Canadian experimental poet. He began writing seriously in his early twenties, while earning his B.A. and M.A. degrees at Carleton University in Ottawa. He returned to Toronto in the early 1990s to study for a Ph.D. in English literature at York University, where he encountered a burgeoning literary community that included Steve McCaffery, Christopher Dewdne ...more
More about Christian Bök...

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