Cut Together or Strung Apart

a review of Matt Margo’s When Empurpled

One of the first things that may strike you about this book is the apparent lack of a point of view. In this poetic style of lines-not-sentences, there is no distinguished narrator. There is no perceivable person speaking. Yet on the first page alone, there are several “hahaha”s interjected, which makes this text with no discernable narrator disorienting and slightly creepy.

when they fall down at the heads if the fans
liars hahaha Scheele and them as they
macron pleurae such was the spirit of the king
The entire book is center justified and split into two sections, and the only punctuation can be found at the conclusion of each section – a period and exclamation point, respectively.
fallen post robust a knowledgeable andod test propeller from within the lying
proportion until the objection to the fan is
mere MHz the first thing that was said when it
went down the fan fell on him worthy of
E. Nesbit what the disloyal kuku madman deserves it is
more powerful than the amicable as well as
wonderful avatar God willing the most
I imagine the text could either be a more conventional manuscript that was severely cut apart until only a mutated resemblance remained, or else it is a collage of non-sequiturs cut together or strung apart.
Unfortunately, almost immediately after reading the text, the words and content are mostly forgettable. The elusive flavor is gone, and the only remaining thing is the memory of the taste. The book, like many others that focus on style over content, resounds more in its experience rather than its meaning. I was left with the confusion of the words and lines, but utterly without a context to grip onto and take from it. Nonetheless, the in-the-moment-ness of the words, seemingly strung together without want for structure, made for an exciting if confusing read. When Empurpled is a food that does not fill you up. You know no more at the end than you do at the beginning. This book may be an earnest attempt at avant-garde. It may be an active attempt and creating something that seeks to mystify itself so as not to be defined. Or it may be a new breed of trolling for the literary-minded internet age – as in, maybe the point is to have no point. With this style of intentional unintelligibility, only the author can know one way or the other. Everyone else can only guess. It may be like the poetic collaboration of Andy Kaufman and William S. Burroughs while narcotized on C-SPAN and 4chan. Maybe we’re not supposed to get it. But whether or not that is the case, When Empurpled is both exhilarating and perplexing.

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About Michael Filippone

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Michael Filippone was born and raised in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey. He writes and makes music. You can see him at, where he makes videos about books he likes.
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