The Pontoon Manifesto

According to Richard Kostelanetz, critic, curator, editor, and visual poet, Henry James Korn’s Pontoon Manifesto is a pioneering modular fiction.  This late 1960’s literary experiment anticipated major themes, characters, and plot points in Korn’s 2015 novel Amerikan KrazyThe Pontoon Manifesto was initially floated in a pair of early 1970’s paperback offshoots of New American Review.

In 1975, Korn’s experiment was reprinted by the poet Larry Zirlin as a limited edition artist book in the form of a deck of cards to be shuffled and read in any order.  A poster edition with dotted lines inserted in a West Coast arts and communications magazine followed.


Forty-five years on, we present a new unlimited edition electronic Pontoon powered by an automatic randomizer which reorders the paragraphs at the click of a button.


‘Thirty-three fictional beginnings to be shuffled and read in any order?’  I did it and I’m hooked.
-Alexandra Garrett, NewLetters, Beyond Baroque Foundation Los Angeles, 1975

Korn’s persona is a latter-day Huck Finn on his raft riding out of yesterday into today, graduating from innocence to the no-sense world of Tanguy, Ernst, Dali and Kafka.  This post-McLuhan Shandyesque card-read, play-book  is elegant, whimsical, politically satirical and truly surreal.
-Arlene Zekowski, Small Press Review, Dustbooks, Paradise, California, 1975

A fictional house of cards designed to destroy the everlasting sanity of librarians everywhere.
-Bill Katz, “Best Small Press Titles of 1975” Library Journal, New York, 1975

The Pontoon Manifesto can be read as many ways as it can be shuffled, creating a new plot with every reading.  In trusting his reader to create the fiction, Korn appears to believe my mind contains as many interesting possibilities as his own.
-Tom Montag, Learning to Read Again: Some Notes on Eight Recent Books, Cat’s Pajama Press, Chicago, 1976

Free from an established view of art and literature, Henry James Korn challenges us to take up the gauntlet and write our own stories.
-Loris Essary, Assembling Assembling, Pratt Graphics Center exhibition catalogue edited by Richard Kostelanetz, Assembling Press, New York, 1978


Assembling Assembling curated by Richard Kostelanetz, Pratt Graphics Center, New York, 1978

Language & Structure in North America curated by Richard Kostelanetz, Art Gallery, Center for Experimental Art & Communication, Toronto, 1975


Bibliotheca Italiane

Kings College, London

Museum of Modern Art, New York


US: The Roots of Underground Culture edited by Richard Goldstein, with original illustrations by Peter Bramley, Bantam Books, New York, 1970

In Youth: the Writers Today and the Writing of Tomorrow, edited by Richard Kostelanetz, Ballantine Books, New York, 1972

Exact Change: Short Fiction by Henry James Korn, Cover lithograph by Scott Hyde, Assembling Press, New York, 1974

The Pontoon Manifesto ‘artist book’ card deck edition printed in an edition of one hundred with twenty-six signed and letered A-Z by the author. Assembling Press, New York, 1975

The Pontoon Manifesto poster version printed with dotted lines and folded into a literary issue of Intermedia Magazine edited by Harley W. Lond, Los Angeles, 1976

The Pontoon Manifesto electronic edition designed by Boffo Socko Books with a randomizer device that endlessly shuffles paragraphs at a click of a button, 2015



Author, Arts Curator, and dark analyst of contemporary culture

%d bloggers like this: