by Johanna Drucker
"Against Fiction was six years in the writing. The notes and texts for the book accumulated over a period that spanned time in Greece and Amsterdam and well into the years in which I returned to the Bay Area, worked, and began graduate studies. The book embodied the conflicts I had with the traditions of fiction in which I had been steeped as a young writer and the terms of literary production I was being exposed to in the Bay Area literary scene, as well as in the art contexts I had encountered in Europe and on my return. The "Against" of the title was intended to signal dependence on and rejection of that tradition. The massive set of notes and fragments got organized by "affinity" during an Xmas holiday visit to my sister's house. In my mind's eye, I still see the pile of mss. fragments, the scotch tape, and the sorted stacks on the bed in her guest room. That has to have been the winter of 1981-82, I think, since 1980-81 I stayed in Oakland, too poor to travel. But maybe this doesn't make sense. My mother would have still been alive, and that means that my sister wasn't married yet. So obviously I'm misremembering something. Perhaps it was the winter of 1983 that I put the mss. together. But that also doesn't make sense because I recall that the first version of the printed edition was being printed the night of my mother's accident. I was working at the Vandercook in the warehouse and kept breaking off to call my folks, because it was my mother's birthday. I never reached them and thought they were out to dinner. Next morning my father called to tell me she'd been in an accident. I don't think the original larger format would have worked in any case, but I never had the heart to go back to the project in that form after that event. The other crucial recollection that helps date the production and conceptual design of the project is the response of Dalia Judovitz to the first version in manuscript. She and her then partner Jason took a look at the mss. It had taken months to type. I was using an IBM Model B, a good machine, but just an electric typewriter (office model, an upright, solid machine). Remember, this is in the early 1980s, and no one had computers yet. When I finished typing, I had the project copied at Kinko's, which seemed hideously expensive to me. The mss. was close to 300 pages, and even at 5 cents a page, must have cost me about a copy. Since I lived on about 0 a month, including my 0/month rent, plus utilities, that was a sizable chunk of my monthly income. The blue paper covers were pale and the black velo binding seemed solid, functional. The heft of the manuscript gave me a sense of having really done something. But they flipped through it, gave it back, and said it needed to be printed letterpress. I was aghast. They had no idea what that meant. Hard to think one was at the end and find oneself instead at the beginning of another huge phase of a project. Since I knew them well enough to depend on their response, it has to have been 1982 or so. The book was finished printing in 1984, before I went to Paris for a year, so that is the terminus point. Much editing, of course, went on in the stick. But that is for a later section of production narrative."