‘There’s an aimlessness to the narrator’s travels, he ponders what he’s doing in each city, questions the lack of narrative drive, and in turn worries this lack is born of his own creative incapacity. The faint glimmers of dramatic action that do flitter into view, for example at one point he believes he’s being tailed by the secret police – necessitating a double bluff to counter their (imagined) suspicions – provide sudden moments of respite, sweeping the reader up into a familiar flow of fiction. However, this narrative momentum is just as quickly dissipated, dismissed with a wave of the narrator’s hand as the mirage that it is. And this push and pull of wanting to invent a story, maintained by reader and writer in equal measure, the desire to be carried along by comfortable and comforting genre-tropes, whilst knowing their fictitiousness, the base-fantasy of convention as an escape from the real, reoccurs throughout the work. As this chase-scene comes into the light as the lie that it is, however, we are returned to something else, something like a more honest iteration of events perhaps, and it is this movement between these two poles that in fact gives the work it’s drive.
At times I was reminded of the opening few pages to Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer,
“There are no more books to be written, thank God. This then? This is not a book. This is libel, slander, defamation of character. This is not a book, in the ordinary sense of the word. No, this is a prolonged insult, a gob of spit in the face of Art, a kick in the pants to God, Man, Destiny, Time, Love, Beauty…what you will.”
But Hasler is far less bombastic, for this doesn’t feel like merely a doubt of the form, a recognition of the endgame of the genre, but rather feels born of a deeper, more personal doubt, existential in its timbre, and is all the more disconcerting for it.’
– Doggerland, August 2014, http://www.doggerland.info/samhaslero
‘O, A Prayer Book is essentially about conflicting dichotomies. Seemingly autobiographical, Hasler’s narrative explores such disharmonies as faith and disbelief, love and lust, reality and fantasy, beauty and uglyness, preservation and murder. A misfit, a bearded ex-Art History student and self-proclaimed weirdo, Hasler’s unnamed character tells the story through his interior articulation of these conflicts – a story that plays out like a self-directed film.’
– Ellen Bell, Planet, The Welsh Internationalist, Autumn 2014
‘The maid of Mega Maid smiles at me from the counter. She’s very attractive but I’m not in any kind of place to perv here. Mute and inadequate I point at something on the menu that looks like a black coffee and I realise we’ve not communicated as she starts to make a milkshake. She turns around and bends over to get the milk off of the bottom shelf of the fridge. I would have loved to perv on that beautiful view. On a normal night I might have enjoyed this, but in this mix, this moment I am trying to keep a clear head. All I can think is how bad it could be. How long before the end?’
An incantation and repetition of prayers, marks the introduction to a young man’s isolated, creatively-stifled existence. Deluded by the stagnating mythology of great European modernist artists, he escapes the drudgery of the supermarket nightshift but not his perverse imagination. He travels to Moscow and Venice on a journey that causes reflection on his romantic ideas; his desire for a wild, bohemian life; his crude libido; and his increasing doubts about his faith. The book operates as both a story and as a material context for a body of work; a spine connecting performances, readings, installations and printing.
Samuel Hasler lives and works in Cardiff. His approach to making artwork is varied, it includes writing, performance, printmaking and installations. He has recently presented work with Book Works (London), The Whitstable Biennale, Spike Island (Bristol), and Arnolfini (Bristol).
O, A Prayer Book by Samuel Hasler, is published by Book Works, in an edition of 1,000; black and white; 148pp; with a soft cover. Designed by ARPA (A Research Projects Agency); 110 mm x 180 mm
ISBN 978 1 906012 55 7