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Publisher Visual Editions released their fourth book, Kapow! A new book by British writer Adam Thirlwell, Kapow! has been published by London based experimental publishers Visual Editions. “As visually acrobatic and giddy as the story it tells”, Kapow! is “exploding with unfolding pages and multiple directions” – the story is narrated through creative typography and experimental page layout that demands the reader to engage, to scan the pages and text in a new, challenging way that reflects the story, and to re-think reading.

The story is set in the Arab Spring, and led by a fast paced monologue of an unidentified narrator, who we only know is “over-doped, over-caffeinated, overweight — trying to make sense of this history in real time.” It is based around a London writer watching and reflecting on the events of the Arab Spring and the wider global unrest that sparked from it such as the London riots, Occupy Wall Street and the Syria uprising through reports, news and information from his computer screen, not to mention newspapers and taxi drivers too.

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The story is a satirical, witty cultural commentary and critique, using spinning digressions to weave stories of a group of interconnect characters in London and Egypt, all transformed by the idea and hope of revolution. The story goes back and forth between London and Cairo. Visual Editions say “It’s a poignant and very, very clever read and we’re thinking and hoping that you’ll love it as much as we do.”

Visual Editions describe the book as “A beautifully crafted object told in Thirlwell’s uniquely acrobatic voice, this is a visually immersive storytelling experience like no other”. Visual Editions work with what they call “visual writing”, saying “There is a rich literary heritage for this kind of writing and this very much forms the basis for what we’re setting out to do.” Kapow! invites readers to open and unfold pages, to follow text “leaking in and out of paragraphs” whilst inevitably becoming part of the story and feeling lost within the pace of the narrator’s whirlwind digressions.

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“The way we think about visual writing is this: writing that uses visual elements as an integral part of the writing itself. Visual elements can come in all shapes and guises: they could be crossed out words, or photographs, or die-cuts, or blank pages, or better yet something we haven’t seen. The main thing is that the visuals aren’t gimmicky, decorative or extraneous, they are key to the story they are telling. And without them, that story would be something altogether different.”

London writer Adam Thirlwell has penned two novels, Politics and The Escape, and a book on the international art of the novel. He is also guest editor of an issue of McSweeney’s magazine which is set to come out in Winter 2012. The book was designed by London-based Studio Frith.

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Cultural website It’s Nice That said of the book: “Kapow! by Adam Thirlwell is a thing of confidence – both in terms of design (by the ever-good Studio Frith) and writing. Moving you literally about the page, the words take a reader between Cairo and London, from the top of the page, down and diagonally across, it’s as dynamic an object as the story it’s depicting. A writer, reflecting on the events of the Arab Spring and the global unrest it spawned, uses a digressive and real-time written tactics to reflect the perspective of all the news, all-at-once while maintaining a “Bollywood style” love story. In a format that could only ever be realized in print, Visual Editions and their boundary pushing authors are keeping warm a spot close to all book-lovers hearts.”

Published May 2012
ISBN 978-0-9565692-3-3
Paperback