Sheck embeds texts or, rather, lets them slip into and out of the pages; she compounds the vertigo. Characters write letters about books that they're translating; they quote passages, which are in fact like passages from one world to another.
Any line could serve as a metaphor for Sheck's project and process, such as:
"[Lady Su Hui's 'Xuan Ji Tu shi' is] a poem composed of 841 characters woven into a five-colored tapestry and arranged in a perfect square. Reading it, there's no need to start at the beginning or move straight to the end. Instead, it can be entered anywhere."
"Of Archilocos we have not one single work entire and most of the context's fallen away".
As the monster explains: "You worked to make the parts of me combine to form a new, amazing being."
More where that came from.
A commonplace book, a cover version of "Frankenstein," a epistolary novel. A commentary on revision, translation -- what lives in the margins.
"Where do you end and I begin?"
The fiction of "A Monster's Notes" is framed (as a found text) by a letter, dated June 30, 2007: "This is to inform you that the final closing on your building at East 6th Street was successfully completed . . . [Y]esterday afternoon as I made my last walk-through, I found on the second floor a shorter note, a manuscript wrapped in a rubber band, and an old computer. . . ."
It's the monster's handwriting. He muses: "And Clerval, that gentle man who everyone thought dead -- in fact he traveled east as he wanted. Even now I sometimes picture his hand moving in patient transcription as day after day he translated the 'Dream of the Red Chamber' in his house at the foot of Xianghan Hill. . . . " Clerval was Victor Frankenstein's faithful friend, destroyed by the monster in Shelley's novel, but here living in China, translating "The Story of the Stone," or "A Dream of Red Mansions," or "Dream of the Red Chamber."
"Dream of the Red Chamber," 18th century. Unfinished by the author, who is Cao Xuequin, or is he. Commentary by "Red Inkstone," who might also be Cao.
Originally published anonymously.
Unfinished by the author and hence potentially perfect, endlessly expandable in the mind.
Question for the reader: Why start what cannot stop?
Partial list of books never completed by their authors but published: Charles Dickens, "The Mystery of Edwin Drood"; Robert Musil, "The Man Without Qualities"; Walter Benjamin, "The Arcades Project."
"Those days in the graveyard I traveled across many pages which frequently ended in mid-sentence -- the books I found were mostly torn -- so my travels were wayward, random, disrupted, though maybe the mind mostly travels in this way."
"The whole issue of the unfinished is a living idea," writes the monster.