… But I Could Not Speak …

Jono Schneider

2002 • 110 pp. • $12.00
ISBN: 9781882022458

Purchase from Small Press Distribution

It is a truism that a persistent trickle of water carved out the Grand Canyon. In Jono Schneider’s first book, this truism can be applied axiomatically where an inexorable flow of words erodes the extraneous to reveal vast muteness. Within this space, narrative traces arise, skirmish, and disappear. Familiarity exerts its own betrayal where “the only promise I can make is the one I will never reveal.”

The horizon to which Jono Schneider returns again and again is not so much disclosed as shaped and reshaped: it ceases to be a thing and admits only to a rhythm. The painter Leonora Carrington asserted that magic is “being aware of presence without definition.” Here you will find a book in which such enigma is enacted.
— Elizabeth Robinson

“…But I Couldn’t Speak…” occurs in and as a moment, one that it has opened for itself in the midst of a story so that its meanings can emerge. This is what Julia Kristeva has termed “the moment of accomplishment.” I belongs to the time of appearance, the temporal zone that everyone brings to the stories they are involved in. As readers of this wonderful book, our own involvement begins within its exquisite, noticeable sentences, which flow unimpeded except by the excitement they produce in the reader; we want nothing better than to pause at each of them, not in aesthetic wonder but so as to participate in the action that is this book.
— Lyn Hejinian

In Jono Schneider’s “…But I Couldn’t Speak…” every sentence is its time there. In each sentence, slow rigorous satisfying, relation to life ‘outside’ and to ‘living’ is that. We don’t slip out of the sentence or look elsewhere. Nothing is simply demonstrating something else. The reader is held again and again in this occurrence. It is as if a form of automatic writing to make a slow voice.
— Leslie Scalapino

The characters in Jono Schneider’s prose have names like “hunger” and “silence.” They are more than words. You encounter them in passing, as in a narrow street. They come a bit too close. You must reconcile their passing and their staying with you.
— Gil Ott


She sat on the couch and explained the theories to he who was also a composer of some renown; the slice balanced curiously on his knees, he rocked comfortably backwards. It would be much later when he was finally able to reach the door with composure. She saw how long it took his anger to subside in books…..

He spoke of what drove him back once again to seek support in a slow voice.

Now it is the doors that close. Time polarized all things with evaluations. But this did not mean that I had them. The memories I decided to accept were those I was in the process of erasing to eliminate their sharp corners.

She felt that leaving a notebook near the bed was as close as she could possibly get to dreaming into perfectly readable writing. I stayed home; I read the kinds of books I wish weren’t written so as to mine a particularly painful depth, throughout which I feel the pure confusion of hitting a horizontal wall. Some body parts needed more protection for the protagonist than others; and yet when I lay in bed my hands sought only one to save because of how small and sad it seemed to me, even in the dark, when it slipped unnoticeably into an invisibility seen more clearly in the window.