Motivated by the contrasting feelings he felt from his recent marriage to Alison Knowles as well as his brother’s untimely death in the civil war-torn Congo, Dick Higgins wrote this book over the course of a decade from 1960-1970. The resulting book is organized in five cantos that break down into chapters. Higgins approaches the writing style for this book in opposition to the lyrical and concrete poetry of the late 1950’s to embrace a more conceptual literary style. A chance system and dice in conjunction with an English-Indonesian dictionary also play a key determining role in the creation of content for this book.
In the closing of his introduction, Higgins notes, “because we are not used to such concentration of literary and conceptual images, it is virtually impossible to read any large section of the Book to oneself. It should always be read aloud or heard, preferably with the text being passed among a number of readers, as each tires, laughs too hard or reaches a natural pausing point.”