Since its inception in Paris in 1960, the OuLiPo — ouvroir de littérature potentielle, or workshop for potential literature — has continually expanded our sense of what writing can do. It’s produced, among many other marvels, a detective novel without the letter e (and a sequel of sorts without a, i, o, u, or y); an epic poem structured by the Parisian métro system; a story in the form of a tarot reading; a poetry book in the form of a game of go; and a suite of sonnets that would take almost 200 million years to read completely.

Here, we gladly present some excerpts — along with the corresponding explanations — of some pieces found in our newest release, All That Is Evident Is Suspect, edited by Daniel Levin Becker and Ian Monk.

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The Republic of Beau-Locks (in French, La République de Mek-Ouyes) is the first book in an ongoing serial novel, chiefly by Jacques Jouet but incorporating contributions from other authors, about the life and exploits of the titular character, whose name is phonetically identical to mes couilles, or “my balls.”

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Jacques Jouet
from The Republic of Beau-Locks

Episode 2

And this nerve-shot yet still resourceful truck driver, who had just parked alongside highway number A-something-or-other, settled on Beau-Locks. So, he wanted to change his name? Then he’d call himself Beau-Locks. It was safe to bet that he’d be the only one.

—I’m calling myself Beau-Locks.

He could already imagine with amusement the embarrassment of the askers, when confronted by the classic question: “How do you spell that?”… “You spell it like a pair of…?” … “Maybe you’d like to spell it for me?”

He’d dithered between various possibilities—Beau-Bridges; Beau-Britches; Beau-Bugger; Beau-Brummy; Beau-Bleepers; Beau-Tied; Beau-Me-Down; Beau-Tox; Beau-Blimey; Beau-of-the-Balls—to end up with Beau-Locks.

Contrary to what has just been stated, Beau-Locks’s nerves weren’t as shot as all that. In twenty years’ odd-jobbing, he’d just about seen it all… shoved about when he wasn’t being dumped, elbowed when he wasn’t being dumped, ditched when he wasn’t being elbowed, booted out when he wasn’t being elbowed… and so he was quite curious to see what would happen next. He’d become a fervent collector of whatever things happened to him. I mean, why give yourself up to despair? It was far better to laugh at your mishaps—a smile was a good start—and then to wonder methodically how far they could possibly go. Such curiosity could very well stand as a reason to keep going.

To sum up (quickly, I mean, really… ’cause there’s no question here of robbing biographers of their trade by spewing out a good sixty pages concerning his early youth, before getting down to brass tacks, with the same amount covering his grandfather, great-grandfather, with details of his parentage and childhood illnesses… his school books, turned up by a team of Anglo-American researchers after six years… his kiddie words as reported by his sisters and cousins, his army career and practical jokes, the broken homes and housekeeping accounts… not to forget the maternal cuddles as precursors of his affective particularities), to sum up, then, and without beating around the bush, Beau-Locks’s career had dallied with a large number of possible manifestations of highway, and to a lesser degree railroad, professions. He’d driven cabs, trams, and school buses… from ambulances to hearses. He’d driven steamrollers, snowplows, and Black Marias, a regional railcar and a suburban train…

For two months, he’d even ferried about the books and software of an intercompany mobile library, with no serious hitches, before being fired, nonetheless, for serious misconduct, or to put it another way, an incapacity to manage both upstream and internally the dysfunctions (arising from decisional alienation) in the vital synergy in the subcontractors’ interface modules, as well as the partnership hierarchies.

He’d been a private chauffeur and delivered pizzas, and ended up as the driver of the mini-train in the gardens of Versailles, which had derailed on a molehill, before decapitating two marble statues of mythological figures, and fracturing seventeen femurs belonging to almost the same number of genuine oldsters, coming from various countries in the European Union, and with stillborn touristic ambitions.

During a rationalizing restructuration necessitated by the responsible anticipation of transnational competition between national parks, he had become a name on an extravagant, and yet thoroughly state-financed, redundancy plan, leading to the offer of delivering a solidarity consignment of pickaxes to Rubamgué, by driving across the desert, on half pay, but with a broader mind thanks to the wonders of the world and the project’s humanitarian values. Beau-Locks had felt tempted initially, then not tempted at all. When he ended up refusing, while deploying his incomprehensible smile, he had been told to take his woes elsewhere.

Periodically, Beau-Locks watched his chances go by, but without ever stopping. This didn’t stop him from thinking, while wiping his glasses, or even from expressing his opinions, which didn’t always enter into the category of what might be called constructive observations.

Meanwhile, he was preparing a once-in-a-lifetime caper, which would bring him joy, a change, universal glory, and which will be the subject of this serial novel.

So, let’s step back a bit, the better to leap forward. The whole thing started when he was the subprefect’s chauffeur. Would you like to know how Beau-Locks, who wasn’t yet called Beau-Locks, became the subprefect’s chauffeur?

Well, that story started when he was still the prefect’s chauffeur.

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You can purchase All That Is Evident Is Suspect in our store.