Welcome to the Poison Pie Publishing House!

Featured Books:

The Faerienomicon is an Encyclopedia of Faerie, rendered in felt, combining the crafts of felt finger puppets, local photography in the wild places of East Tennessee and non-idiomatic story telling. It is intended for both children and adventurous adults.

The Implacable Absence is a Non-Idiomatic Improvisational Duet, in which a mushroom man, a talking bug and a doppelgänger traverse Faerie, Nirvana, the World of the Dead and other planes of existence in search of the Deadly Galerina, a reclusive deity from the Kingdom of Fungi.


News Updates:

December 15, 2014
Numismatists of the Great Wheel
The Poison Pie Publishing House is proud to announce the release of the third and final module, Numismatists of the Great Wheel, in the Rare Elements trilogy. In this fantasy role-playing module, the players must travel across the planes of existence in order to acquire a set of coins, each corresponding to a particular alignment (LG, LN, LE, NG, N, NE, CG, CN, CE). It is fitting that the campaign is set in the Planescape cosmology, where each plane corresponds to an alignment. Thus the party must brave the hostile environs of the Abyss to obtain the Chaotic Evil coin, overcome adversity while adhering to strict moral precepts in Mount Celestia to obtain the Lawful Good coin, and similarly for the other alignments. The module is unofficially associated with the set of alignment coins minted at the Rare Elements Foundry, from whom the coins are still available for purchase. For those who don't play, the module still may be of interest if for nothing more than a dozen or so entertaining sketches of non-player characters in Appendix II. The module, as well as the two earlier entries in the trilogy, The Seven Wondrously Replicating Elemental Coins and The Shadow Mephit's Coin, are freely available in electronic format via anonymous download here.


December 10, 2014
Literary Essays Salvaged from the Sinking of the Scriptorium
As a writer, David Keffer will eagerly admit that he has been influenced by the works of giants of world literature. Significant influences include Kobo Abé, Donald Barthelme, Italo Calvino, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Primo Levi, Philip Levine, Luo Guanzhong, Shi Nai'an and many others. Beyond just reading the works of these writers, Keffer also performed a variety of different kinds of critical studies. For two of these authors, the Japanese existentialist and absurdist, Kobo Abé, and the Italian chemist and Holocaust survivor, Primo Levi, Keffer wrote lengthy critical essays that served as introductions to their works. These essays were published in the Scriptorium of The Modern Word website, an online resource for post-modern fiction. There they remained for well over a decade. In December, 2014, the staff of the Poison Pie Publishing House was alerted to the demise of the The Modern Word website. Consequently, the Poison Pie Publishing House is now hosting the essays without modification.

Kobo Abé: The Clinical Eye of the Physician
A critical analysis of the fiction of Kobo Abé translated into English, originally published in November, 2000, is now hosted here. This essay investigates eight novels and uniquely evaluates the writing of Kobo Abé through the criteria for literature proposed by Italo Calvino in Six Memos for the Next Millenium. For those interested, we can recommend two novels published by the Poison Pie Publishing House in which one may see the influence of Abé. In The Sutra of Reverse Possession (2012), one finds an examination in the form of a narrative for discovering successful roles in domestic life, which has at least some peripheral relationship with The Face of Another by Abé. In an entirely different vein, the post-existential science fiction novel, june and jitter (the bugs) (1993), is described as the bastard child produced from the unholy union of Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles and an unrelenting dose of the clinical absurdism of Kobo Abé.

Primo Levi: Mapping Post Modern Fiction Onto the Periodic Table
A critical analysis of the fiction of Primo Levi translated into English, written with Allan B. Ruch and originally published in December, 2001, is now hosted here. This essay introduces Levi to new readers and focuses on six volumes of fictional work with post-modern relevance. The essay does not analyze Levi's important contributions to documenting the Holocaust, such as the nonfiction of Survival in Auschwitz or the novel If Not Now, When?. There is no particular novel published by the Poison Pie Publishing House in which the influence of Levi is keenly apparent. Instead, Levi has more generally informed the sensibilities of the author.


November 30, 2014
Quote from Evangelii Gaudium by Pope Francis
The great danger in today's world, pervaded as it is by consumerism, is the desolation and anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience. Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God's voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades.
--Pope Francis
Apostolic Exhortation: Evangelii Gaudium (Joy of the Gospel), November 24, 2013, English translation, paragraph 2, Vatican Press.


November 6, 2014
Lê Quan Ninh
The book by improvising percussionist, Lê Quan Ninh, Improviser Librement: Abécédaire d'une Expérience, published in 2010 by Editions Mômeludies, Collection Entre-Deux has been translated from French to English as Improvising Freely: The ABC's of an Experience, published in 2014 by PS Guelph. This book contains observations and musings regarding improvisation in music and life from the non-idiomatic percussionist, Lê Quan Ninh. Each entry is arranged in alphabetical order to form an eccentric encyclopedia of a host of elements contributing to the overall nature of his improvisational process. The English version contains not only the content of the original French edition but also new entries.

Improvising Freely: The ABC's of an Experience is a lovely little book with short passages, ideal for those who travel by bus or subway and find small parcels of time in which they can read because the entries are distinct and self-contained and require time for pausing and reflecting over the multiple interpretations of the content of each passage. The entries possess both statements of simple profundity and complex depth, both of which reward repeated readings. The non-linear format of the book invites a non-linear reading technique, in which the book is opened and reopened at different times and different places, finding new passages or old passages given new meaning based on the current locale or the events of the day that immediately preceded the reading. It is, in short, a delightful compendium of improvisational insights.

The writing clearly and intrinsically reflects the personal predilections and philosophy of Lê Quan Ninh. For example, in the entry for Education, he writes, "If there must be an education [in improvisation], may it be self-taught, and may it teach a preference for solitude. We might be numerous as apprentices but we are always alone when we are unlearning. A strange pedagogy that leads to its own forgetting..."

The English translation of the book by Karen Houle leaves nothing to be desired. The writing possesses both a simplicity that makes it a pleasure to read and the necessary nuance to capture subtle distinctions in the subject.

Improvising Freely: The ABC's of an Experience is a charmingly unique little book capable of communicating immense ideas to an open-minded reader. The book can be purchased in paperback and electronic formats at http://www.publicationstudio.biz/books/269.


November 5, 2014
The Implacable Absence is Published!
The Poison Pie Publishing House is proud to announce the publication of The Implacable Absence, a non-idiomatic improvisational duet by Henry E. Gorton and David J. Keffer. The novel is a post-existential fantasy investigating the juxtaposition of individual destinies across separate timelines. More information on the nature of the creative process employed to generate this work is available. The book can be purchased in paperback or a variety of electronic formats in the shop.


November 4, 2014
A Prayer Book for the Damned
The unknown source of the inexplicable impulse to compose a set of prayers has now fled the Poison Pie Publishing House. Thirty-three prayers were written, starting with "A Prayer for the Suffering" on August 21, 2014 and ending with "A Prayer for Quitters" on October 31, 2014. The staff have selected a subset of the prayers to appear in a collection titled, "A Prayer Book for the Damned", which will be published without unnecessary delay. The original versions of the prayers will remain freely available for viewing on the Poison Pie Publishing House site. More information is available here.


October 5, 2014
Four Heroic Finger Puppets!
The Poison Pie Publishing House presents a new broadside featuring four heroes from the forthcoming novel Poison Pie vs the Implacable Absence by Henry Gorton & David Keffer. In this broadside each finger puppet is designed by a different member of the staff of the PPPH. We imagine that these puppets and others presented in the broadside page of the gallery are being created for a follow-up illustrated book to the The Faerienomicon. There are early character histories and role-playing statistics for these characters here.


September 21, 2014
Numismatists of the Great Wheel
New content has been added to the sneak peak of the forthcoming fantasy role-playing module Numismatists of the Great Wheel, an adventure set in the Planescape universe, which allows a party to acquire the ten alignment coins minted by the Rare Elements team. The new content includes descriptions of the delves associated with the first two coins and the first several NPC histories. The module in its current state can be freely and anonymously downloaded here.


September 17, 2014
Quote from Labor and Monopoly Capital by Harry Braverman
Today we present a quote from Harry Braverman (1920-1976), an American Marxist, on the subject of the impact of the universal market on leisure.

In a society where labor power is purchased and sold, working time becomes sharply and antagonistically divided from non-working time, and the worker places an extraordinary value upon this "free" time, while on-the-job time is regarded as lost or wasted. Work ceases to be a natural function and becomes an extorted activity, and the antagonism to it expresses itself in a drive for the shortening of hours on the one side, and the popularity of labor-saving devices for the home, which the market hastens to supply, on the other. But the atrophy of the community and the sharp division from the natural environment leaves a void when it comes to the "free" hours. The filling of time away from the job also becomes dependent upon the market, which develops to an enormous degree those passive amusements, entertainments, and spectacles that suit the restricted circumstances of the city and are offered as substitutes for life itself. Since they become the means of filling all the hours of "free" time, they flow profusely from corporate institutions which have transformed every means of entertainment and "sport" into a production process for the enlargement of capital. By their very profusion, they cannot help but tend to a standard of mediocrity and vulgarity which debases popular taste, a result which is further guaranteed by the fact that the mass market has a powerful lowest-common-denominator effect because of the search for maximum profit. So enterprising is capital that even where effort is made by one or another section of the population to find a way to nature, sport, or art through personal activity and amateur of "underground" innovation, these activities are rapidly incorporated into the market so far as is possible.
--Harry Braverman
Labor and Monopoly Capital: The Degradation of Work in the Twentieth Century, Monthly Review Press, New York, 1974, pp. 278-9.


April 30, 2014
An International Journal of Exploratory Meta-Living
The inaugural issue of An International Journal of Exploratory Meta-Living has been published. It features a lengthy interview with the Editor-In-Chief of the Poison Pie Publishing House. An electronic version of the issue can be anonymously downloaded free-of-charge here.


April 2, 2014
A Literature of Non-Idiomatic Improvisation: A Condensed Statement

With the publication of The Faerienomicon by the Poison Pie Publishing House and the corresponding claim that the writing within the book was generated via a non-idiomatic, improvisational process, we at the Poison Pie Publishing House have been virtually inundated with virtual requests for clarification of the term. While a lengthy article on the subject written in a scholarly style is available, most folks want a short and to-the-point description.

Non-idiomatic, improvisational writing is a creative process by which a writer generates passages outside existing genres of literature without the aid of either a previously written draft or extensive post-editing.

Non-idiomatic, improvisation originated in music and the musical analogy remains useful in understanding its application to literature. Music is generated via both improvisation and composition, two forms that typically have readily identifiable differences and relative strengths and weaknesses. So too can writing be generated via improvisation and more traditional composition. The same characteristics, both thematic and stylistic, that distinguish improvised music from composed music are apparent in the comparison of the analogous literatures. There exists a freedom and spontaneity in improvised writing, which attracts those with "an impatience for the gruesomely predictable" (D. Bailey). At the same time, improvised writing may be vulnerable to a lack of complexity, unless the writer engages in an intensive regimen of practice, which maintains the improvisational creative faculties at the ready. Such a model is again taken from the explicitly stated practice habits of non-idiomatic, improvisational musicians.

Some musicologists eschew the term, "non-idiomatic improvisation", since, once a non-generic style is created and invoked multiple times, it becomes a new idiom. The Poison Pie Publishing House embraces the term "non-idiomatic improvisation" as an ideal toward which one strives, an endless process in which each subsequent creative act is disconnected from the previous. An appealing way to think of non-idiomatic improvisation is as a Zen riddle. Once you create a non-idiomatic process, it no longer exists.

This condensed explanation is also available via free, anonymous download here (pdf file).


December 10, 2012
The Sutra of Reverse Possession by David J. Keffer has been published in both paperback and ebook formats, available from the shop. "The Sutra of Reverse Possession" is a novel of non-idiomatic improvisation, written from 2010 to 2012 in Seoul, Korea and Knoxville, TN.



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