Friday, December 23, 2011

Bosley Gravel: @_TheAristocrat_

Bosley Gravel describes himself as an 'eclectic hack writer.' I guess that depends on exactly how you mean 'hack' there. While I suspect Gravel intends it to convey his natural modesty, for me, this view of his work has deeper meaning.

Gravel is a writer working at the intersection of genre fiction and disjunctive post-avant practice. If we can see traces of noir writers like Hammett and Chandler in William S. Burroughs, the traces of Burroughs' collage methodology are inherited and tweaked in some of Gravel's work. His 2010 novel, The Movie ( is a young adult novel, a coming-of-age novel, and, above all, a compassionate look at coming-of-age in a small town.

Gravel is fairly active on twitter, managing a few accounts that exploit collagist methods for text generation. One such account is _TheAristocrat_ (!/_TheAristocrat_).

Here's what Bosley has to say about it:

"@_TheAristocrat_ started life as surreal, non-linear (experimental) novel. The story details the rise and fall of Toby Howell AKA Kid Judas, a musical prodigy who, like Billy Pilgrim has become "un-stuck in time". Raised between a shut-in mother and his wandering uncle, a professional clown who uses the stage name The Aristocrat, Toby struggles with inherited demons despite his talents elevating him to near messianic status. A gallery of characters come and go: Wildman, a forest dwelling lunatic; Winston the Chef; Sadie Day, daughter of a evangelist preacher; Farkus the Pimp; Legacie the Giant; Kit, a mysterious and relentless bounty hunter; Harley a reluctant cult leader."

"'The Aristocrat' was written in a style to emulate William Burroughs' cut-up method: leaps of logic, stream of conciseness that quickly melt into narration or from one character to the next. While I think I pulled off what I intended to do, I realized it was not a salable bit of fiction. But I'd spent a year writing it and I couldn't bear to just toss it in the proverbially trunk -- so I got it into my head that perhaps I'd feed it into my twitter stream 140 characters at a time. Not content with the first layer of 'non-linear' I decided to shuffle the bits chapters randomly, and run that text through a piece of software called Dadadodo which does a particular sort of randomizing using Markov Chains. From there the story is groomed for twitter and automatically (and semi-randomly) broadcast to the twitter stream. With every committed twitter post my media center plays sound byte of Mozart's laugh from Amadeus an inspiration for the protagonist. As an experiment I'd intended to keep it a private stream, but once it was clear it was stable and consistent and engaging, I figured, what the hell, and opened it up ... and was surprised to see a few followers."

Some samples of _TheAristocrat_'s stream:

  • Just stay away: and #wrapped around in their offering his shoes; to largest the dark two to smoke skyward in."
  • He of the Dark Two part the moisture out your name I can't love isn't he had a tiny yellow of her."
  • "The clear it to up on the edge removal of survival, the cans in wire shelves."
  • Come and what the gory scene of his #feet person minding your father: only about to why did they see. #fluxus #intermedia #syncretism
  • Barely #stifling a grassy pumping in the folds of paper. #antiart #dadaism #avantgarde
Be sure to check out Bosley's website:

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