We cannot comprehend Lish’s contribution to literature without an awareness that composition cuts across ontology, not only aesthetics. In Lucretius, the force of composition is described as a clinamen—our world is born from a “swerving” of atoms in their fall from heaven. Such is the purpose served by Peru’s perpetual swerving, rhyming and recursion. Each consecutive swerve steps closer toward a total curvature that delimits the work as a world apart. Peru is a paradigm of the artwork as a formally closed system. Hence, what has been called “consecution” is not a matter of mere wordplay; it is the way in which such a system defines its horizon.
David Winters explores the singular form of Gordon Lish‘s Peru.