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The Burlesque of Graceless Acting

The novella overflows with wisdom. The author has compressed into 64 pages a meal for the mind that is to be savored over and over. Line after line, page after page, are philosophical and psychological insights whose meaning must be contemplated as they appear, and then in the context of the work as a whole." Edward Martin Baker

"What masterful brushstrokes for the canvas of the mind you have created with this book.…This book is timeless and completely shouting from the shadows of the bookstore. I feel as if I have discovered this amazing new author…that I just want to shout to the world about." Ginger Dawn, Book Talk on Creating Calm Network

The Prophet of Sorrow and The Burlesque of Graceless Acting… You are an amazing author. This was literary, beautiful, poetic… I knew I was in for a literary treat." Ann White, Creating Calm Network on Blog Talk Radio




"Mark's strength is beautiful language wed to an understanding of very difficult concepts of being and perception." ~Susan Balée

"A search leavened with wit, and a word play that (along with intellectual weight and rigour) calls to mind Anthony Burgess. It is a style which also carries echoes--an appropriate word for this work--of Joyce. But it is the prose work of Samuel Beckett that one is most reminded of here, the apartness--another appropriate word--of Malone or Murphy. And since the death of Beckett that corner of literature which might be called post-modernism has fallen silent. 
   "Well, in Mark Aken Williams we have a new voice, with new things to say about the human condition." Peter Maughan, author of The Cuckoos of Batch Magna


"Amazingly mind-boggling and truly exciting novella by Mark Van Aken Williams that any true literature and poetry lover should have or download." Seb Doubinsky, author of Goodbye Babylon


The principal narrative of The Burlesque of Graceless Acting is the account of an anonymous poet’s relationship with his mind and his physical surroundings, in a complicated modern world. The first-person narrative is supplemented by conversations with a confidant, about whether the soul is an immaterial thing or just a brain. All the while, the narrator illuminates his conundrum with the wonder of our most elusive art (poetry), as well as pictures of various 'surreal' people, places, and objects. It is haunting in content and scope for a novella, exploring why our conscious states have their particular qualities, and suggests that they, in the end, are nothing more than brain processes.

Copyright 2013: Buy it at this link for Kindle and in paperback.


He used to say that we were at the center of the universe. Stuck in the center, that is. The worst place for a man of genius to be. No first and last, beginning or end.

At least one has the first impressions of his youth, here, I would say.

Youth, he would respond, the season of wincing has left the artist wanting.

He rarely spoke of his youth, except to clarify the relationships and false courses of previous perceptions, beliefs, and desires. All leading to the organic center, where the artist is expected to think, reason, and comport himself intelligently. God, he said, only focused on the engineering details. And we were left with the discomposure. Because of this, any deity must be removed from any discussion that is appropriate to answering questions about thought, understanding, and so forth. In contrast, art is an autonomous lingua, and you and I will provide the patois and its own domain of questions. Our job is to foist a monolithic distinction between function and structure.

He pivoted in a full circle, examining the hierarchy.

What is and who is
are negotiable.

And the form of the knotty pine
appeals to one for a
table thumping explanation.

Perhaps this was the best place for a man of genius to be.


Listen to an interview with Mark Van Aken Williams, where he discusses The Burlesque of Graceless Acting with Ginger Dawn. Click Here.