Composed of anonymous e-mail messages sent by the author to an acclaimed visual artist over the course of a year, Permission is the record of an experiment: an attempt to forge a connection with a stranger through the writing of a book. Part meditation, part narrative, part essay, it is presented to its addressee as a gift that asks for no thanks or acknowledgment—but what can be given in words, and what received? Permission not only updates the “epistolary novel” by embracing the permissiveness we associate with digital communication, it opens a new literary frontier.
“S.D. Chrostowska achieves unexpected buoyancy in spite of the intensity of her material. Permission, certain to be among the most formally adventurous books published this year, will thrill readers of fearless stylists like Blanchot, Barthes, and Anne Carson. In its obsessive intricacy, it evokes even earlier forebears: those wonderfully melancholy European humanists, like Thomas Browne and Robert Burton.
“‘Every library is a haunted cemetery,’ writes F. Wren, the narrator of Permission. This fine and perplexing novel is itself something between a library and a cemetery, spinning around the hauntings of desire, the confusions of memory, the ambiguities of solitude and, above all, the mystery of writing.” –Teju Cole