thechapbookreview

Jimmy Chen’s Typewriter Reviewed by Cooper Renner

typewriterTypewriter

By Jimmy Chen

Magic Helicopter Press

5.5 x 8.5″ | Saddlestitched
April 2009

$6

Reviewed by Cooper Renner

The 13 flash fictions which constitute Typewriter employ wryly or darkly comic voices to comment upon the intersection of modern life and cyberspace. In  “‘Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’” (yes, the title is in quotes, as in a multi-word search), the German writer Googles himself only to find that another JWvG, who manufactures lawn mowers, is far more prominent on the Internet than he the author is. The Amish reveal in “An ‘E-Mail’ from the Amish” that someone created a hotmail account for them which holds over 900,000 emails by the time they discover and open it. “Tomorrow’s Tiring” features 20-something partygoers who snap and post thousands of digital images of themselves and friends from a single night out. Textspeak, Youtube, blogposts and Facebook all make appearances, as do personifications of fonts. Though Chen’s dominant manner here is a kind of deadpan commentary, the opening flash “The Typographer” revels in puns, appropriate both to the vocation and the character of this particular practitioner. The most accomplished and satisfying fiction is the closing faux-memo, “Re: Loading This Typewriter,” which builds upon the absurdity of a typewriter which workers are forbidden to load paper into. The title page is itself a comic meditation on late 19th-century advertising styles and the contemporary capabilities of computers. Several of the fictions have appeared previously in such magazines as Keyhole and Monkey Bicycle, and the chapbook’s first edition consists of 75 numbered copies.

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