LA FARGE’S WORD PLAY: Paul La Farge planned to bring to life “Luminous Airplanes” Tuesday night in the Center for Fiction’s top five floors. The author aimed to create scenes from his novel as well as its immersive text. But La Farge said flatout via email that he was not aiming for a “Sleep No More” type of theatrical performance. “We’re working with text, sound, light (and darkness) to bring the book to life, but not acting it out,” La Farge said.
For the gathering, the top floor writers’ studio was transformed into a tech company office, where visitors could explore the immersive text, while mingling, drinking and listening to music. A seventh-floor storage area was set up as the house where the novel’s narrator has to pack up, while audio recordings touch upon the history of the narrator’s grandparents, whose house it was. One floor below, likenesses of the apocalyptic Millerites are meant to appear ascending to heaven, or a reasonable facsimile thereof.
The fifth floor’s book stacks are bathed in total darkness. There, the story of Bleak College, which La Farge described as “an institution of questionable purpose, and its destruction by the residents of New Haven circa 1786, is told — if you can make it out.” Those less-quizzically inclined were best off to start with the fourth-floor stacks where a puzzle related to the narrator’s father, “a puzzling figure in the novel to say the least,” could be found, La Farge said. “The mystery here is considerably easier to solve than the one the narrator is trying to unravel,” he added.