“The Collected Works of Bernard Willis” consists The Bewilderments of Bernard Willis and Letters to the Pacific, two novellas published between 2008 and 2011, and a number of fragments that appeared in magazines or online journals between 2012 and 2017.
1. The Bewilderments of Bernard Willis (Toronto: Pedlar Press, 2008).
“The Bewilderments of Bernard Willis, in its crazy jumps, its arbitrary shifts into things like a history of the staircase, makes me think of Robert Smithson’s notion of construction sites in New Jersey as the Ruins of the Future – a rootless collapsed time and space scale – and the narrative drive, the story, pushes on in all its seeming pointlessness. Read the book straight through in one sitting – you can’t put it down anyway – then read it again, slowly, give it time to think. Bernard Willis grows on you, his intelligent lively mind, in a thinking book by a terrific stylist.”
— Peter Quartermain, author of Stubborn Poetries and editor of both volumes of the Collected Poems and Plays of Robert Duncan
“Aaron Peck’s prose is sophisticated, jazzy, high-falutin’, sometimes ungrammatical and always erudite. It’s a pleasure to read more than once. We need more such writers in this country where the truly hip and well-read have been avoided like something unCanadian.”
— George Bowering, author of Pinboy, and the first official poet laureate of Canada
“Peck’s prose channels that of deceased German writer W.G. Sebald, whose logs of walking tours tread the tightrope between novel and essay, but Bernard Willis departs from its influences toward a style distinctly localized and so deeply personal. The novel is a bewildering spiral of deviations, tangents, asides, which together describe, as dust describes the tornado, how humans prop up cities on the shifting earth of history.”
–Michael LaPointe, The Tyee
“Like Bolaño’s Savage Detectives, the found novel recreates an artistic bohemia: in this case, Vancouver (from Boundary Road to the Coliseum-esque library) and Toronto (from the Allen Gardens to Kensington Market). But it’s the recent past that is on display here, and thus Peck (or is it Willis), turns in this evocative description of Moshe Safdie’s controversial Vancouver public library…” [excerpt from the novel, describing the Vancouver Public Library]… “As the passage indicates, Peck is adept in weaving the philosophical into the everyday. Like the photo-conceptualist artists he name-checks, he uses reality as a profound archive.”
–Clint Burnham, University of Toronto Quarterly
NB: This book is now out of print. If you are interested in trying to obtain a copy, don’t hesitate to reach out.
2. Letters to the Pacific (Portland: Publication Studio, 2010).
Letters to the Pacific is a novella in the form of a series of letters written to the Pacific Ocean from a narrator living in New York City.
The book’s structure was designed and produced in collaboration with artists Adam Harrison and Dominic Osterried. Presented in a custom-made envelope, Letters to the Pacific had tipped-in plates throughout its pages, presenting images by Adam Harrison and Christopher Williams, an intervention by Johannes Bendzulla, as well as a DVD and twelve digital prints by Adam Harrison and Dominic Osterried. It also existed as a performance in which I read the entirety of the text accompanied by screening of a film collage by Adam Harrison and Dominic Osterried.
The book was published as a limited edition art book, also out of print and no longer available. Again, don’t hesitate to contact me for inquiries.
3. Fragments from a Project Called “the Bad Arts”
“Gloria” The White Review [online], May 2017.
“The Bad Arts: An Excerpt,” Joyland [online], 7 August, 2012.