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Gretchen E. Henderson

Gretchen E. Henderson received the 2010 Madeleine P. Plonsker Emerging Writer’s Residency Prize for Galerie de Difformité and was recently awarded a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship from MIT.


"What a work! . . . The 'book' explodes across distributed platforms and media, with a digitally networked existence that simultaneously builds on and destroys the integrity of the print object."

– Johanna Drucker, author of The Alphabetic Labyrinth

"Galerie de Difformité is a cabinet of curiosities of things deformed, disabled, reformed and enabled. . . . A book that combines the metacriticism of Tristram Shandy with the randomness of a complex video game, Henderson has created a unique work that aims at being extraordinary, arcane, and eminently accessible. A book you won’t forget."

– Lennard J. Davis, author of Enforcing Normalcy and Bending Over Backwards: Disability, Dismodernism, and Other Difficult Positions)


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Galerie de Difformité

Caution! Do not read Galerie de Difformité (or this recommendation) straight through from start to finish!


[1] I was selling books at the Chicago Book Expo for &Now Books, when a woman walked up to our modest booth and picked up Galerie de Difformité I gave her the usual spiel, “This is our newest book, and it’s actually my favorite. It’s pretty unusual, I guess postmodern.” Her eyes grew wide when she cracked the book open. “The author actually encourages you to not read the book straight through.” She proceeded to shudder, throw down the book, and exclaim, “I can’t do it! I can’t do it!” So, okay, Galerie is not for everyone, at least not for those who aren’t willing to tease the boundaries of traditional writing.

[2] You are here. Go back and read section [1] or stop reading this recommendation. Or, if you must, go to section [4].

[3] By the way, Galerie is dedicated to you. Yeah, you. Seriously. It’d be common courtesy to at least buy a copy. Now go to section [8].

[4] If you like pictures in your book, you’ll like Galerie. If you like destroying / deforming / improving the printed word, you’ll love Galerie.

[5] When I was little, I read choose-your-own-adventure stories. The first time, I would read it like the book dictated, out of order, following a pseudo-self-guided path. Then, when I was not satisfied with the path I chose, I read the whole book cover to cover. A slew of stories were hiding in that book somewhere, and I needed to find them. This is how I read Galerie de Difformité. I still feel like I haven’t found all its hidden treasures.

[6] Read Galerie if you don’t know who you are. Read Galerie if you’ve ever wondered what it means to be beautiful.

[7] Read section [3], even though I know you already did because tradition compels you to read a book (or recommendation) straight through. But really, didn’t you read the title?

[8] When I visited Florence, I decided not to visit Dante’s house. (1. I never really liked Dante. 2. They were charging 10 Euros to get in). I probably would have visited Beatrice’s house if Florence had assigned one to her like Verona had for Juliette. Beatrice is a mysterious woman. She existed, yes, but where do the lines blur between historical truth and literary hyperbole? Galerie is narrated by Beatrice. Well, a deformed version of this elusive Florentine. I’m thankful the book is not narrated by Dante.

[9] Go here and deform an exhibit in the Galerie.

[10] Galerie is an adventure, so if you’re looking for an easy read to kick back with after a long day’s work, don’t read Galerie. Save it for when you’re ready to think.

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