‘Disorder’ by Nicholas Royle

I have long been interested in OuLiPian constraints, and used them myself, so was struck by Nicholas Royle’s contribution to the anthology We Were Strangers, which uses all and only the words of the lyrics to Joy Division’s first album Unknown Pleasures.

The technique has been used before, for example by Paul Griffiths, who used all and only the words of Ophelia to generate his novel let me tell you (Reality Street, 2008) but Royle uses a tighter constraint, allowing only repetition of words repeated in the lyrics. This disciplined cut-up technique produces a surreal logic, with a meaning and implied plot hovering just out of reach, and thus acquires the potency of dreams.

First published in We Were Strangers: Stories Inspired by Unknown Pleasures, Confingo Publishing, ed. Richard V. Hirst, and collected in Manchester Uncanny, Confingo Publishing, 2022)

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