Commuters by Toby Christian
132 pages
198 x 129mm
ISBN 9783753301068
Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther und Franz Koenig
Published 30th November 2021

Aboard a beaten bus, fragile passengers are transported to a gloomy stop, while a cat stares silently, alone in a stationed trailer. Commuters, the third book of writing by Toby Christian, bids us to work with a new train of accounts, travelling between objects and spaces from Vienna to Matera, Liverpool to London. Written in Christian’s trademark dazzling detail, passages teem with feral poetics in descriptions that tilt between the headspaces of guided meditation and hyper-forensic rave. Commuters is a searching shuttle through alternative text, zooming to a stellar end. Featuring an introduction by Chris Fite-Wassilak.

‘The ghosts of Gertrude Stein and Francis Ponge hover about these short texts, in which objects become subjects, surface depth and language reality.’
- Tom McCarthy

‘Perhaps it’s impossible to unknow, but I feel Toby Christian gets close. He strips things of the usual expectations – of function and value – to better relay their complicatedness. He chases down the specific through crisp lists and proximities and exquisite terminology, then sends it all skittering with sly, swift metaphors. In Commuters, the material world is being remade: as confounding and saturated as we pretend that it isn’t.’
- Sally O’Reilly

‘In his essay, 'Visibility', Italo Calvino wondered what impact living in a world replete with ready-made images would have on the imagination. He thought perhaps we were in danger of losing a basic human faculty, the ability to close our eyes and evoke images in absentia. To counter this decline he proposed 'a potential pedagogy of the imagination that would assist in the control of inner vision, that would neither suffocate it nor let it slip into vague, ephemeral fancy but would instead allow images to crystallize into forms that are distinct, memorable, autonomous -icastic'. Calvino would have found much in Toby Christian's Commuters to be encouraged by. The rigour and devotion with which Christian's slim but multitudinous volume engages with his challenge produces a way of seeing that is startlingly original, and profoundly consoling.’
- Claire-Louise Bennett

'Then, unlike any of these, or anything I’ve ever read, there was the artist Toby Christian’s COMMUTERS (Konig) – a weird, electroconvulsive book, emphatically another highlight, to be read with every one of your sensory organs.'
- Amber Husain, White Review Books of the Year 2021

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