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Composition No. 1

3.54  ·  Rating details ·  78 ratings  ·  17 reviews
VE3 is a re-imagining of a book originally published in the 1960s. The book is the first ever book in a box, called Composition No.1 by Marc Saporta. When we say book in a box we mean: quite literally a book that comes in a box with loose pages. The narrative is contained on each page, leaving it up to the reader to decide the order they read the book, and how much or how ...more
Other Format, 155 pages
Published August 30th 2011 by Visual Editions (first published 1962)
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Average rating 3.54  · 
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 ·  78 ratings  ·  17 reviews

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Mar 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: art, literature
review of
Marc Saporta's Composition No. 1
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - March 1, 2012

This bk is a collection of loose pages in a box. It's published by Visual Editions of London who say: "We think that books should be as visually interesting as the stories they tell; with the visual feeding into and adding to the storytelling as much as the words on the page. We call it visual writing." I find this both exciting, insofar as the publishers seem seriously intent on publishing things that're di
Aug 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
Hard to say exactly what this book is about - or why it's something to be read, other than that it is an object of immense beauty and danger.

I read the whole thing in one go after having waited for quite some time, under the influence of Tylenol and a low-grade fever. I do believe this only helped add to the ethereal nature of the book and, hey, I'll take it.

This won't be for everyone, certainly - but even if you don't like the book, you have to admire Visual Editions' beautiful work on the cre
Nov 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: french
so this book came out on Sept. 13, I recommended it to Greg on Sept. 6 and MJ recommended it to me on Nov. 13. and now I've finally gotten around to reading it. so that's all well and good except when it's not.

I think that every person who asks for a recommendation based on the fact that the girl with the dragon tattoo is about violence toward women should be handed this book. mostly because i'm a jerk, but also to prove a point not all books about violence against women are about violence agai
Fran Bambust
Aug 27, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I quit. This book is utterly boring. An experiment for experiment's sake. I really prefer Milorad Pavic, who actually achieved something while experimenting with the medium itself. Don't buy it, unless you want to experience the silliness of it. I had big hopes, but Saporta just couldn't deliver.
Cathi Davis
Apr 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Concept book. How can you ever be "done" with this book? Loose leaf pages collected in a box, can be read in ANY order. Unrate-able. But I love the concept, the execution, the design. Wish it had been printed on heavier paper. Good reads should have two more categories (added to "read" "to be read" and "currently reading")-- to whit, "Abandoned" and "will never be done"..this one is in the latter.
Harry Collier IV
I read 100 of the 155 pages. For a book like this that is enough.
All the hype around this book has to do with the gimmick of shuffling the pages and building a story (read through other reviews and see what I mean). I LOVE this idea. Like most readers I went into this novel fascinated by what I would find.
In the beginning there is little more than confusion and a longing to make connections but for the persistent reader names and places start to repeat. This is exciting as you begin to think t
Jan 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
I feel somewhat conflicted about Composition No. 1. On the one hand, I really enjoyed it. When it comes to books, I'm a big rule follower, so it was exciting to create and break some book rules. I thought I would read the pages as they came to me and not move them around, but as I read, I created character piles, found some pages that I felt belonged at the beginning or at the end. When I was nearly done, I took the remaining pages and ordered them from most amount of words to fewest, just for t ...more
David Eves
Aug 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Got this one as a wedding gift (from the wife herself, bless her). I'm a sucker for anti-novel/experimental works like this, though I was surprised how much I enjoyed it given its mixed critical reception.

"Composition No. 1" takes the form of 150-odd loose leaf pages that the reader can shuffle and read in any order. Think, if you've read it, of BS Johnson's "The Unfortunates", though without stabilisers: In the latter, you're only shuffling sections of the novel; in the former, literally any p
Alex Spicer
Jul 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
I expected to like this book as a curiosity, in the way that I like all books as objects. I did not expect to be so enthralled with the story.

Composition No.1 is a loose leaf book - the pages are not bound together, and so can be read in any order. This works out rather better than you would expect. The version of Composition No. 1 which I read was unique, nobody has ever read this book as have, and nobody ever will again.

But there is more to this than a clever idea, it is a well written novel,
Aug 17, 2018 rated it did not like it
After being enthralled by House of Leaves I started looking into oulipian novels and anti-novels and this one rather caught my interest. This avant-garde novel comes unbound, with one hundred and fifty loose sheets that can be read in any order. I thought this sounded really refreshing and interesting.

The reason you can read it in any order? The writing is so generic it becomes completely interchangeable. But this isn't as exciting as it sounds, the plot revolves around three or four different
Apr 01, 2015 rated it liked it
Read for exams. Without any real connection to the protagonist, I had trouble connecting each of the storylines to him (this was complicated by the fact that it's completely ambiguous when each of these things happens chronologically in his lifetime). Hence, inspiring lots of pondering over the role of order in narration and how much it is relevant to make sense of what's going on--I found myself doing what Christy Dena calls an "anachrony audit", putting the events of the story in order as they ...more
c.vance c.vance
Nov 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
....good when gimmick meets good writing.
only fault is that there is no point to it... the story or structure of words does not necessitate nor encourage randomness or chaos of the page. there's no link between what is done and why...

still, found it worthwhile for a while.
B Guttt
Apr 01, 2016 marked it as to-read
Shelves: own
VIsual Editions VE3
Dec 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: faves
Had a random shuffle read-through, and then turned it into a story about jealousy, love, dishonesty and malevolence. Also known as my kind of story.
Ben Serviss
Feb 20, 2018 rated it did not like it
Oh boy - I'd been looking forward to this for around 13 years, and wow is it not interesting. The shuffle-able loose pages ends up as just a gimmick as the different threads don't really intersect.

Not only is the writing bad, it did not age well. Half of the pages are devoted to describing the women characters' legs, calves, thighs, throats, arms, backs, lips, breasts, eyes, over and over again. Lurid description is not character development.

Oh yeah, and the rape scenes. There are a bunch of t
Mar 28, 2020 rated it liked it
A box of loose pages, shuffled. An interesting read. It comes across as a mystery in a way, or poetry, since it is so disjointed. There are several storylines going on - I may not have gotten how all of them fit together. But I did enjoy the experience.

Thoughts a day later: I do have a soft spot for these 'formal experiment' books, and I realize I enjoyed participating in the experiment more than I enjoyed the story. I wished there was more of a thematic link between the story and the structure.
Sep 15, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2018, rare, they-lost-me
I wanted to like this book. What a cool idea! A book you can shuffle -- loose pages, a different story every time (sort of). This sat on my "to-read" list for almost five years after I heard about it. When the book arrived at the library, I couldn't wait to pick it up. I eagerly checked out the bright yellow box and went home to dive in.

It didn't take me long to realize that the author doesn't like women very much. (view spoiler)
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