Reviews

Armand is the international conduit for much of the dialogue that’s developing today. he is an internationalist, an innovator … he’s genre busting & on an “open” passport. John Kinsella, The Sydney Morning Herald

Cool… postmodern. Kevin Hart, The Sydney Morning Herald

Armand’s characters are all caught up in the attempt to retreat from the flow of time. The great histories that are the backdrop to his narrative and the characters’ lives are the looming presences of life that requires we keep track of time, because it is always getting late there, and the urgency of the timetable is felt here as that of a doomsday clock. Richard Marshall, 3:AM Magazine

…an utterly European Modernism. Keith Jebb, Poetry Review

Armand has done to Prague what Genet achieves in Our Lady of the FlowersJim Ruland, San Diego City Beat

Some revolutionaries cannot help themselves. No matter how contemptuous they may have been of the oppressions of conventional meaning, they find themselves drawn, inexorably, towards a need to make sense. Sometimes such transformations look like nothing more than the emergence of a talent. Louis Armand seems to me to be one such, whose earliest career read as just one more young man’s desire to impress with a display of confronting gestures, but whose work just kept displaying more and more of the need to engage with the strange playful pressures of meaning. For this reader the turning point was the 2003 collection Strange Attractors,3 not of all of which quite works, but which contains such fine poems as ‘jacques cousteau est mort’ and ‘oxygen as a socially useful substance’. If Strange Attractors was the turning point, the book that really announced Armand’s mastery was Letters from Ausland, from 2010, a collection of scapes that ranged across Prague, where he is based, New York and Australia.4 Indirect Objects is not so much an improvement on Ausland as evidence he can work at will at that impressive level. If it doesn’t represent a new direction, it doesn’t have to: what it does show is that he can do this now. A restless, energetic and appalled imagination has come into its own on the page. Martin Langford, Meanjin

There are grand political and moral themes here, as well as more personal explorations of loneliness, loss and intellectual instability. […] Art isn’t just there to distract and amuse us and to seek easy pleasure in this work is to miss the point. Armand has interesting and ambitious things to convey, whether we like it or not.[…] There’s no doubt that Armand is aiming for something profound and challenging, and it is clear that The Combinations is the product of hard work and hard thought. It’s a book that deserves attention. Sam Jordison, The Guardian

Armand has written an important and corrosive novel, which is a commitment to creativity in the face of absurdity, a politics of avant garde literary concentration and experience that knows, as Camus had it, that: ‘The innocent is the person who explains nothing.’” Richard Marshall, 3AM magazine

When an ambitious novelist or playwright decides to compose a modern realistic work—i.e. one imitating das Chaos der Zeit, as Hölderlin called the confusion of his own time, having no idea of what things were to become within a couple more centuries, that is, now, before our eyes—, the dusty so-called classical units become unexpectedly useful again. They provide a center to the chaos. Joyce’s Ulysses happens all in Dublin, in a single day. Beckett’s plays are models that even Boileau would have approved of. Now Louis Armand, the Australian writer who has lived in Prague for over twenty years at last count, has produced a major modern epic “novel,” having Prague instead of Dublin for locale. At about 900 pages, it is a good deal longer than Joyce’s Ulysses: if you enjoy the latter, you will find The Combinations to be almost 200 pages more fun and you will not want to miss it. Ricardo Nirenberg, Offcourse

[A]n astonishing creation, a literary journey that I am glad to have experienced […] It demands time, so much time, and attention. Jackie Law, Neverimitate

Louis Armand’s The Combinations is a ‘great novel’ — long and complex. It exemplifies remarkably the possibilities of the genre and contradicts the contemporary obsession with its decline and commodification. The Combinations unites several narrations, many gnomic and proverbial expressions, various literary frames and historical data/backgrounds.  Humor, puns and highlighted commonplaces — however slightly altered by Armand’s ‘écriture’: ‘A man’s only the sum of his whatsits, after all’ — make the reader able to preserve their own identity and point of view. Comments and pauses are allowed, as shown by the ‘Intermission’ section. That applies to future amateurs and defines the novel’s play upon continuity and discontinuity. In its construction, The Combinations compares with David Mitchell’s novels; by its balance between ‘totalisation’ and ‘detotalisation’ with Michel Butor’s Degrés. Louis Armand’s questioning humor, use of commonplaces, and rewriting of many typological stories recall the reflexive attitude of Robert Coover. The cover of The Combinations should not be ignored either, in that its collage offers a precise introduction to the novel. The Combinations should actually be viewed as starting with its front cover and ending with its back cover. That just confirms the questioning power of the novel, since the cover does not show any text, except for the author’s name and the novel’s title in quite small print.” Jean Bessière, Sorbonne Nouvelle, Paris-III

Armand keeps it to the skin, ‘obstinately full of holes,’ which answers back to the question of whether things suddenly become simple. They don’t. Daniel M. Nester, La Petite Zine

Armand has achieved a dazzling level of literary expression. Ladislav Nagy, Hospodářské noviny

Precise language succinctly expressing sophisticated ideas–one can tell he enjoys the act of creating, not just the finished product of the poem. Edward Taylor, The Plaza

Scrapes away at language to form strange, new forms. David McCooey, The Age

Armand succeeds in taking his reader on a difficult, but very worthwhile journey. Barbara Bridger, Warwick Review

Armand pursues the complex challenges language poses and his own language is luminous and original, both in structure and in poetic form … The poems in this collection are sparse in style and written with great expertise. Many rank among the best work written anywhere … a superb collection. John Millet, Poetry Australia

Louis Armand is a writer-thinker who has a kind of Derridian incorruptible ethos… Pam Brown, Southerly

To say Louis Armand is a thoughtful poet is both obvious and an understatement. His reach extends beyond the expression of an idea to capture the sensation of the thought itself. Ryan Scott, Cordite

There is something glittering in this poetry, there are accurate and sometimes surprising images and intensive feelings: this is a very frank poetry. Miroslav Holub

Armand portrays with an incomparable eloquence… Jane Lewty, Thresholds

Armand’s ideal poet controls not primarily with language’s rhythmic music, but with how words collide and warp upon themselves… Ethan Paquin, The Boston Review

a thump to the head… unrelenting, a flying wedge, an encyclopaedia of the wasteland, an uzi assault pumping desolation lead… inspiring! Thor Garciaauthor of The News Clown

The language of ‘internally fissured realities’ is dense, sound-driven, and erudite. The territory being mined is somewhere between language and geography, but there is a stubborn (and tenaciously coherent) essay on the modern here, particularly modern art. The equally tenacious reader will be rewarded by a sober sensibility. Andrei Codrescu, Exquisite Corpse

truly remarkable poems… Land Partition is a book for these and any other times, a monograph in a way for those incapable of speaking to be heard and felt. Chris Mansel, The Muse Apprentice Guild

Louis Armand’s poetry is fiercely, delectably experimental… delighting in its wrestle with language, and formal in its drive and strategy. He is very much at the heart of a new internationalist poetic–for poetry that synthesises experimental and formal verse. David Morley

Louis Armand seeks to create a different kind of poetry. A voice that is both immediate and reflective, vital and residual. His is a poetry of extraction and distillation that merges myth and presence, that is elegiac and celebratory, ironic and sincere. The contradictions are there, the paradoxes are established, and the lyric intertwines with rhetoric. There is also a determined intelligence steering a dark passion. It is confronting work in subject matter and technique. Seances is an unusual book. I’ve read nothing like it before. It takes risks. And this is exciting and necessary. John Kinsella

A poetry filled with guest appearances by the languages we normally delegate authority to; which knows more than all of them put together. Rod Mengham

Louis Armand is a landscape poet with a difference. His landscapes are replete with ‘anti-constructs’ … He marks “the remoteness between signifier & land-/scape,” rather than its conventional conflation. Armand … knows the “fundamental questions” are those of locality; he poses them with intellectual acuity, integrity, and in singular language(s) that assert pluralism and always refuse the “seductions of amnesia. Susan M. Schultz 

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