Posted by: Sally Ingraham | May 1, 2011

The Dodecahedron or A Frame for Frames

dodecahedronby Paul Glennon

I’ve intended to read this book since Isabella of Magnificent Octopus mentioned it at the end of a post about Life A User’s Manual last year. In her entry on the book itself she lists among 12 reasons why you should read The Dodecahedron that it is as much a puzzle as it is a book. Fresh off the sheer delight of reading Life A User’s Manual (which is very much a bookish puzzle) and hungry for more, I eagerly put The Dodecahedron on my TBR list.

I’m glad I didn’t get to it until now, because it was exactly what my reading life needed at the moment. Reading has felt very lack-luster lately and I feel as though I have been just going through the motions. The Dodecahedron is the first book in awhile that has bestirred me out of my mental lethargy. While it is not perhaps a great story, and is rather lacking in any concrete characters or a compelling narrative voice, the puzzle of the thing more than made up for any faults. The book is made up of short stories that seem at first to be unrelated until you start to notice certain details cropping up repeatedly. Plotlines or characters keep resurfacing in new and different molts, the current tale references several others, and the whole thing turns out to be an interlocking form – a dodecahedron of course. Emily in her exquisite awesomeness has posted a diagram of the dodecahedron that Glennon carefully crafted via story, which makes me feel gleeful every time I go and look at it again!

I have already described this book as “fun” in a recent post, and I will say it again. The stories are full of intrigue and adventure, messages in bottles, little boys who eat books, polygamists, stranded arctic explorers, etc. The mechanics of the thing are not subtle, and the tales are over the top – both things that I should have found annoying. In this case though, the act of reading was joyous for me – it was an absolute delight to explore the dodecahedron, and that has been missing from my reading experience lately.

This was my first pick for The Wolves this year and I’m pretty satisfied with it. In May we will be reading Gabriel Josipovici’s What Ever Happened to Modernism? which I’m looking forward to. I liked Moo Pak quite a bit when we read it last year so I’m interested in revisiting Josipovici. Discussion will be on the last weekend of the month if anyone cares to join us.


  1. This is my favorite book we’ve ever read! So much glorious Mind Screw! Thanks for selecting it.

    • Yay, I’m so glad you liked it! I can’t wait to read your thoughts. 🙂

  2. I’m just so amazed that you liked this so much and Richard really hated it.
    It is interesting when a book polarizes like this.

    • I’m pretty amazed too! There’s really no telling – Emily and EL Fay really liked it too, and we’re still waiting on Frances’ take. I’d be curious to see what you thought, should you ever try it out.

  3. I agree, it was so much fun. Just what I needed in my reading life coming off the life-changing but extremely heavy and challenging Beauvoir memoir I recently finished.

    And I’m glad you like the diagram! It kind of bugs me that I’m still missing vertices but at some point I had to move on. 🙂

    • Ack, I still need to read your Beauvoir post. Slacking…! Glad this one hit the spot for you too. Looks like Isabella will be helping you complete the diagram. Sweet. 🙂

  4. i am going to have to check this out. it sounds like the kind of read i’ve been missing of late.


    • Oh good, I hope you get to try it out. I would be curious to see what you think, especially given that one member of our group would like to stab it through its papery heart!

  5. I’m so glad you liked it, and sorry I didn’t read along; I suspect I’ll be spending some time in the near future trying to complete Emily’s diagram.

    • Thanks again for bringing it to my attention – I am glad I had the chance to introduce it to others!

  6. Although this did not work for me, I know exactly what you mean when you said it was just what your reading life needed at the moment. Except I felt that way about Conversation in the Cathedral. We will find one we all love this year. 🙂

    • Exactly – I was nearly as consternated over Conversations as Richard was over this one. I’m sure he appreciates the company you provide this month as much as I appreciated EL Fay last month! I too have my fingers crossed for a book we all like.

  7. […] to the weird worlds of China Mieville ever since reading Un Lun Dun last August. Inspired (now twice in a row) by Isabella of Magnificent Octopus (whose review of Kraken is here), I picked this 500+ page deep […]

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