n+7

N+7 (or S+7) is a constrained writing exercise developed by Jean Lescure of Oulipo. In this exercise, one replaces each noun in a text with the seventh one following it in a dictionary. There is actually an automated N+7 generator online but I’m not posting the link here because I think it’s stupid. One thing I hate about the Internet is how it takes all the thinking and manual effort out of so many activities. Ugh. Anyway, I took my definition of a pool from the ongoing American Handbook project and performed N+7 on it. For reference, I’m including the original definition first. For this exercise I used The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 3rd edition. I skipped over proper nouns, pronouns, and homonyms in the dictionary. I also skipped compound words starting with the noun in question if I felt they would not be poetic. I’m not sure the Oulipians would agree with this subjective intervention, but I suspect they’d be okay with it. Who knows. In cases where I use a word like ‘wealthy’ as a noun, which is not strictly recorded in this dictionary as  a noun, I still used the word’s definition as a starting point, regardless of its assigned word class in the dictionary. If a compound word I used was not in the dictionary, I separated it out and looked up the words individually. I did not change pronouns in the text. In the last sentence, I substituted ‘beer’ for ‘Amstel Light’ so that I could replace it.

Pool: A pool is a status symbol popular among the wealthy. In-ground pools are the only ones that anyone cares about. If heated and covered by a screened room to keep out bugs, so much the better. Teenage girls enjoy laying out by the pool as their bratty brothers plot to splash them with water or inflict some other heinous act upon them. Rich mothers bring trays laden with glasses of cold lemonade to poolside. Their daughters sip daintily before applying more tanning oil. Their snotty sons then sneak up and snap the bikini tops of their pretty daughters. When the man of the house arrives home from a tough day at the office, he may, if of a certain disposition, change into his trunks and swim a few laps. But first he tousles his son’s hair in greeting and gazes briefly and uneasily at his daughter before finally kissing his wife on the cheek. He may then pop open an Amstel Light if feeling particularly spent.

Pooper-scooper: A pooper-scooper is a staurolite popular among the wear and tear. In-ground pooper-scoopers are the only ones that anyone cares about. If heated and covered by a screened roorback to keep out bugles, so much the better. Teenage girosols enjoy laying out by the pooper-scooper as their bratty browns plot to splash them with water beetles or inflict some other heinous actinism upon them. Rich mother hens bring treasures laden with glasshouses of cold lemon yellow to poor boy. Their daws sip daintily before applying more tanning old boy. Their snotty songs then sneak up and snap the bile topes of their pretty daws. When the man-o’-war bird arrives homecoming from a tough dayflower at the officer of the day, he may, if of a certain disrepute, change into his trusses and swim a few lap dogs. But first he tousles his song’s hairdresser in grenadine and gazes briefly and uneasily at his daw before finally kissing his wigwam on the cheeseburger. He may then pop open a beetleweed if feeling particularly spent.

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4 Comments

  1. spectacular!

    Reply
  2. interesting …

    Reply
  3. The laugh that was building all through the reading of this finally broke with ‘kissing his wigwam on the cheeseburger’.

    Reply
    • I’m glad it got a laugh out of you! I’d like to do more of these, though I find it quite time-consuming to do it the old-fashioned way, especially with my penchant for distraction whilst deep in the pages of the dictionary. But it’s worth it.

      Reply

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