As innovative and abrasive as the very best of William Burroughs, Ann Quin’s Tripticks offers a scattered account of the narrator’s flight across a surreal American landscape, pursued by his “No. 1 X-wife” and her new lover. This masterpiece of pre-punk aesthetics critiques the hypocrisy and consumerism of modern culture while spoofing the “typical” maladjusted family, which in this case includes a father who made his money in ballpoint pens and a mother whose life revolves around her overpampered, all-demanding poodle. Stylistically, this is Quin’s most daring work, prefiguring the formal inventiveness of Kathy Acker.
Ann Quin (1936-1973) was one of the great unsung geniuses of 20th century British fiction. After a Catholic education, a brief stint of secretarial work, and a nervous breakdown, she began to write, and fell in with loosely-defined group of experimental English novelists that included B.S. Johnson, Stefan Themerson, and Eva Figes. Between 1964 and her suicide in 1973, Quin wrote four utterly unique novels, any one of which should’ve secured a lifelong reputation. Her work looks back to Beckett and Robbe-Grillet and forward to Markson, Sorrentino, Acker, and Bolaño. Berg, her debut novel, was the basis for the 1989 film Killing Dad.