Monday, 26 March 2018

Sleeping: I'm Just Not Good At It

Some people count imaginary sheep when they cannot fall to sleep.  Other people, like poet Ryan Buynak, make lists–lists of favourite songs, games, words or countries to visit, and on and on into the sleepless night.  In 2017, Buynak released a collection of his insomniac lists under the title Sleeping: I'm Just Not Good At It.  In the perfection of an imperfect life, I was given a signed copy of this book by a kind employee of the Chateau Versailles, my favourite boutique hotel in Montreal.  In the course of seven days I had two stints of insomnia that lasted more than 24-hours a piece. 

Buynak's book did not put me to sleep but it did make me laugh out loud on more than one occasion during my vacation.  One of my cherished personal maxims is to "take your work seriously but not yourself" so you can imagine my enjoyment of Buynak's flair for the irreverent. When I was going through the fine print of the inside first page–the place you would normally find copyright and credits–I read the usual statement about copyright but with an endearing addition, "But any part of this book can be used or burned for money."  Further down the page, I read "Author Shit-" followed by a notation for Buynak's blog, which is as well as his e-address.  This was a man after my own heart.

That impression was deepened when I next flipped to the inside back page and encountered a diagonal swath of bold type that proclaimed Proof, which I took to be an insider's jab at the convention of the author and editor's proof copies that predate final releases. 

Another of the conventions that Buynak defies, is the practice of numbering pages.  His lists are titled and have numbered entries but none of the pages of the book are numbered.  There is no sequence; I suspected that the poet wants to facilitate the random.  It is a flip book of mind candy.  Sure enough, I find tucked into the lists a Things to Know While Reading This Book list, entry "8.  There are no page numbers for a reason (entry) 9.  That reason is to encourage people to just pick up the book and flip to a random page".  There was also a phone number to call if you had any complaints–that was entry 6.  I didn't call, I just smiled bemused savouring the possible outcomes.

I did Google Ryan Buynak hoping to find out more about this quizzical creature.  When I visited his webpage I pulled up his bio.  Do you know what it said?  You guessed it, "Blah, blah, blah" for about three paragraphs worth.  Buynak does appear to have other titles out in print and works as designer.

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