I have occasionally indulged in Oulipo-based work before, after having been inspired by seeing Joe Dunthorne at Shakespeare & Co a couple of years ago.
But, as I've had to explain what this means to at least five people this week, I'll do it here too. Here's a neat, all purpose definition from Oulipo founder, poet Jacques Roubaud.
This usually means something along the lines of complicated linguistic rules. More fun than you might think. Really.
(And if you can't be bothered to do N+7 the long way, I just discovered this!)
My favourite Oulipian is* probably chain-smoking crazy-haired medical archvist, Georges Perec, best known for La Disparition, a novel written in French entirely without using the letter 'e'.
In the latest issue of the White Review, which is launching tonight.I've attempted to exhaust Perec's essay, "An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris." - a work in which the writer sat down for three consecutive days in the Place Saint Sulpice, Paris, trying to record everything that he observed.
The first step in building the Oulipian labyrinth as a visual is surely to create a key that is, if possible, more complicated than the words it represents. After all Walter Benjamin (not an Oulipian, but similar hair) once said
If you can't come to celebrate the launch of the magazine tonight (it's open invitation - see the link above) you can buy The White Review 3 (with my work on a fold-out poster) here.
*Oulipians are still considered members of the club after death