Story A brief summary, no spoilers
The narrator of Lyca is a 20-year-old university student who is studying mechanical engineering and dreams of building cars. He’s depressed with the college experience so far: the educational focus is too abstract, not focused enough on building. He has no girlfriend, and his social life consists of hanging out and watching his roommates get high. This is his journal, which he hopes to use as a tool to analyze his problems and come up with solutions, in the same way he imagines an engineer would fix a faulty bridge.

As the inches and feet and yards of the story go by, we witness the journal writer’s efforts to fix his life and what become of them. We get not just his story and his thoughts, but also his illustrations and perhaps some insight into his blind spots. Set in a time not too removed from our own in years, but before cell phones and ubiquitous information, the world of Lyca is familiar yet far removed from our own. Lyca could be a forgotten piece of our own history, an artifact that documents the narrator’s life while it undergoes a transformation as radical as Dorothy’s journey from Kansas to Oz.

Format Yes, it really is a scroll
The narrator kept his journal on a roll of drafting paper, and Lyca is published in scroll format with a final length of well over a hundred feet. This format is no mere gimmick; it’s vital to the story, the themes, and the reading experience. To read Lyca is to immerse yourself in the world of the narrator, from the special handwritten font that makes your individual copy unique, to the dozens of illustrations, to the original scheme for indicating where you are in the document — no page numbers!

The more you read, the more you’ll see the value of the scroll format and its importance to the story. Reading Lyca is nothing at all like scanning a web page, or even thumbing through a hardcover. The experience is both more demanding and a more rewarding, as it requires a level of focus that melts away outside distractions. The more careful your reading of Lyca, the more you’ll pick up on the many layers of meaning and references.

If you are a literary agent, publisher, or member of the press, you can get a free physical copy of an extended excerpt from Lyca by filling out a request form. All others can request to be notified when Lyca becomes available for purchase.

Reactions Some positive, others not so much

Excerpts A small sampling of entries and snippets

Click on excerpts above to expand fully

Copy Request notification or advance copy
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Journey The 30 year quest to completion
For author Matt Asher, Lyca is a “life project”. It represents the culmination of three decades of intermittent work, including several intense periods of writing, as well as months of embedded research. The effort that went into Lyca includes not just the text, but also several dozen illustrations, the creation of a handwritten font that makes every single character unique, a new punctuation mark, and a custom marking system to replace page numbers.

The scroll format itself required rethinking every aspect of traditional book production. Instead of sending the digital files to one of the many offset book print shops, each copy is generated on a wide format printer, then rolled into a scroll by machine. At left, you can see the evolution of this rolling machine from an early prototype used in 1995 for a free weekly called The Chicago Scroll, to it’s latest incarnation in the author’s garage today.

Over the years, many have suggested reworking Lyca into a traditional book format to simplify production. But as you scroll through the finished work, you’ll no doubt appreciate that the format was preserved in the face of all the challenges that had to be overcome to bring it into existence.

Author A brief bio
Matt Asher lives with his wife and twin infant sons in the Florida Keys. He has a grown daughter who is studying Ancient Civilizations at the University of British Columbia. Among many other things, Matt Asher has been: Before moving to the Keys last year, Matt lived with his family in Toronto for over a decade. He’s also spent time living in Oregon, Cochabamba, Chicago, Seattle, and Port Townsend, Washington.