February 2007

Angela Stubbs

fiction

In the Colorless Round by Joanna Howard, Illustrated by Rikki Ducornet

Noemi Press has published a unique chapbook that incorporates both word and art in a way that allows the reader to become a spectator, catching thoughts and moments as they escape the mind and body of each character that live on the page opposite its portrait. In the Colorless Round is a mixture of images and language that blend together to expound on reflections, time and people that tell about a specific space in time. Rikki Ducornet’s sketches within these pages have their own individual space that makes each character come to life.

You may find Howard’s characters in the midst of reflection or in some cases, living out the moment they are describing. Ducornet’s sketches remind you of strangers, people who are a part of the background or who resemble a part of our repressed pasts. While we are only given a couple of paragraphs to observe these people, we are no less removed from their plights. We witness a captive on a train who abandons his dying companion and later looks back at how sad he was to lose a friend “with so few good eggs on that end of things.” Another lone man braves the earth’s landscapes as he walks out into the world with his belongings, all of them dating back to when he was sentenced to a different life behind bars. He feels at home in his cell but more so in the newness he’s found walking down the pebbled path that keeps him a stranger to the life around him. Howard captures emotions effortlessly in these short pages.

Here we are allowed to peek into the lives of the haunted, the scarred and the burdened. Upon further examination of the text and its meaning, one might intuit characters being either a victim of abuse or a ghost of past mistakes and heartache which all reside within descriptive rooms, hallways, tiles and minds of each person, place and thing on these pages. Howard quickly spins her web around readers, pulling them in line by line, page by page with scenes from life we as readers can’t deny. Life resonates within sentences and paragraphs in this book.

Perhaps what lends life most to these small tales are the details that exist not only in the writing but in the drawings. Rikki Ducornet is not only a writer who continually challenges her readers by experimenting with prose and form, but also with her unique and descriptive sketches. These portraits breathe life into the words on the pages opposite themselves. In the Colorless Round is a chapbook full of clear memories and murky realities. The words and the sketches create their own blend that remains alluring to those who want to enter the world of the imaginable and unimaginable as interpreter or voyeur.

In the Colorless Round by Joanna Howard with Illustrations by Rikki Ducornet
Noemi Press
ISBN: 0976704595
27 pages