In this age of increased brevity, to the layman, there is a great temptation to dismiss the storytelling value of a novel, or a complex television drama, such as LOST. That narratively, its depths appear too deep; mythologically, its widths, too wide. While one may make the inference that the laity seems, increasingly, to prefer the likes of the nonliterary – and indeed, the ab-literary –, such superficial observation should by no means discourage those with sufficient ambition from practicing and promoting a common bond with all arts. The literary legacy of this generation must not be distilled to page-upon-page, ad infinitum, of laughs out loud. Yet such avoidance requires the encouragement of the artist.

Indulge, for a moment, the editor, as he adds a simple philosophy:

We live our lives as though a page of lined paper. We travel through life collecting thoughts – each recorded upon its own line, parallel to all others, upon which other things are recorded. Our lives stay within the lines with impeccable penmanship. These thoughts would remain upon their own line – indefinitely –, if it were not for certain events in life that shake the page: allowing those lines to come close enough to contact another line. In this way grand ideas are formed. These events may have nothing to do with the thoughts that briefly kiss as their lines continue on toward infinity. The event may be: a word, a book, or a punch to the face: but a sharp mental jarring is necessary to intertwine the lines of code.

The artist requires this sharp mental jarring. Then the great problem becomes the lack of literary punch, or perhaps the courage to throw such a figurative punch toward the artist in violation of the Marquess of Queensbury rules.

Perhaps it would be just as sensible to offer the following wisdom (as uttered by the great Werner Herzog):

Mut müss du haben, und nicht feige Sein.
You must have courage, and not be a coward.

This entreaty is paramount: Stand tall, gentle writer. Take courage, either to throw, or accept the full force of the blow. Continue to create at length; it is for you to return literature to the position of strength. By force! do not allow the electronic chirps of snipe and woodcock to overwhelm the song of the honey-tongued Muse.

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it.

–The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám


Sally Weigel is a writer of peculiar ability and she has set out to obtain a literary reputation – to build the immortal part of herself. For reasons too fortunate to admit, she sat across the table – metaphorically— for an interview regarding her novella Too Young to Fall Asleep (CCLaP Publishing, 2009). This is stop number eight of CCLaP‘s revolutionary, two-week Asleep book tour (and so, gentle reader, you may believe you are well acquainted with this talented writer), yet Ms. Weigel has still new facts and pleasing discoveries to disperse.

Sally Weigel, sketch by Grace Blevins

With her work now laid before the public eye, we believe, Sally Weigel has reached the age of promise.

Jason R Riley: As oversimplified as this may sound, to be a writer you must put words on the page. Yet for many – and often enough, I include myself among the many – the simple act of sitting in the writing chair is the hardest thing to do. Do you ever find your motivation ebbs to the point where the words don’t flow? What tricks do you use to get your words on the page? Do you need any particular environment to write? Or definite hours of the day?

Sally Weigel: I am most productive early in the morning and late at night so I end up doing most all of my work then, preferably at times when everyone around me is sleeping. I think solitude is really conducive to the writing process so I need to be stuck in my room with no noise and no one around. And you are right, if you are serious about writing, there are times when I need to force myself to be creative when I am in fact, feeling lazy and unmotivated. I usually push myself at these times and just say, “Sally, all you need to do is write one sentence. Then another. Then another.” Soon, I will start formulating paragraphs of writing without even trying.

JRR: Too Young to Fall Asleep was a very different piece when you pitched it to Jason Pettus at CCLaP. How would you say having the added pressure of adapting a shorter work into a novella influenced your writing? Why don’t we see more novella’s? Or are they out there, but disguised as novels using fourteen-point font, blank pages between chapters, and creative pagination (like, say, On Chesil Beach)?

SW: I don’t think there was too much pressure turning my short story into a longer piece. I think what is a lot more challenging as a writer is to shorten your writing. When I start a short story and begin to introduce new characters with their back stories and their story lines, I realize I can easily turn the story into a novella. And I think this is the case with most writers. I think short stories and novels are much harder to write than novellas.

That being said, I do not dislike the novella form at all. I just think there isn’t much of a market for it. People nowadays are used to novels. They rarely even pick up books of short stories. I have no doubt novellas are being written. It’s just that less and less people are reading, and the people that are reading are reading novels.

JRR: There are certain expectations a reader has of a war story. You’ve written a war story that contains very little description of the war, just over a page. In a way, it captures the average US citizen’s half-a-world-away exposure to this war – where unlike WWII, physical participation in this war was optional. Yet Too Young to Fall Asleep is no less a war story. There isn’t the usual combat, or translation work, or the soldier asking what can I do next that will keep me alive? The events happen so fast that we don’t see Catherine making these decisions, but we see her asking a related set of questions regarding her post-army life. And the way you handled it really focuses the story on the psychological issue of why she made her decision to join the Army. How did you come to the brave and – probably – difficult decision to make Catherine’s choice, and not the combat, the event of the novella?

A Nocturn of Baghdad, Donald Maxwell, 1921

SW: I’m flattered by the question, although I have to admit, this decision was done out of sheer fear rather than bravery. I wrote this story when I was 17 and had never attempted and succeeded in writing a longer work. Knowing that I was still at a place where I needed to hone my skill, I decided to deal with Catherine’s psyche rather than combat in a foreign land. Even though I made this decision, I didn’t think I was hindering the story at all. I actually have grown to love the unique plot of this war story. Although most soldiers I am sure find themselves with much alone time on duty to reflect, there is so much being dealt with in making the decision and then dealing with this life-altering service after the fact. I like to think that Catherine’s story tells an important yet relatively untouched part of the story of the Iraq War.

JRR: Lately I’ve given much consideration to the honesty in writing – that one’s best writing is also their most honest writing. Let’s call it an ability to figuratively stand on a chair naked before your peers, and to stand there without fear. That to find the truth, you must embrace the freedom to use everything that has happened to you. How free do you feel when writing? Have you ever held back because a character is – on some level – based on someone you know, and so there’s a concern they might recognize something of themselves and become upset?

SW: I never had to deal with this before Too Young to Fall Asleep because most of my writing was not really based on real life and in the end, it was unpublished. I wrote knowing that I would most likely be the only one reading it. But in writing the novella, both of these pretexts were gone. I was dealing with characters that many people around me would see real life inspirations in them. Also, the prospect of publishing was in the back of my mind, so I knew that if I wrote a sex scene, my mother would read it. That being said, I only held back my apprehensions, rather than holding back my writing. I am such an advocate for art, that I am willing to sacrifice my feelings and my fears if the writing is bettered because of it. I think a writer needs to think of it like this. If my writing can resonate and invoke emotion in another, then I am willing to take slack that the writing may be inspired by someone real.

JRR: You allow much of Catherine’s emotional state to flow through her quill. Do you keep a journal? Do you allow yourself to pluck little bits out of that for your fiction?

SW: I actually don’t keep a journal. I have a couple journals that are just filled with other writer’s words, such as quotes and articles that have really resonated with me. Still, this does inspire a lot of fiction. Although I am a writer, I am a reader first. Every bit of writing I keep in my journal inspires words of my own.

JRR: How well do you need to know a character for a short story or a novella? Should the writer know whether Catherine’s second favorite band is blur or Coldplay, even when that detail will never make it onto the page?

SW: I have seen character sheets online, where a writer can map out obscure details of a character so they can familiarize themselves with their invented characters and make them appear more real on the page. However, I don’t find that necessary. Most of one’s character comes out through interactions with other people, not little details. And if the detail is not helping the story at all, then it shouldn’t take up the writer’s time. So I wouldn’t encourage completely mapping out a character.

Although if the writer subconsciously gives the characters details that never make it into the story, that’s fine. This will most likely happen, as I found that by the end of Too Young to Fall Asleep, I believed that Catherine, Jeffrey, Vince etc. truly exist and thought about them without intending to.

JRR: On a somewhat related note: I have a friend who wrote a wonderful novel, which I’m certain you’ve not read, as it was published in Ireland (Ailbhe Keogan’s Molly and the Cyclops) – but, in it, publishing houses employ actors to work a phone bank and portray characters from the novel. If you could have a chat with an actor portraying anyone in Too Young to Fall Asleep, who would it be, and what might you say to them?

[Personally, I think I’d chat with Jeffrey. He was clearly overmatched for the task of being the anti-recruiter, doing it, Catherine suspects, simply to get out of a physics exam. His inability to perform, or to come up with compelling reasons against joining may have tipped Catherine in that direction. I wonder what sort of responsibility he felt for her injury.]

SW: What an interesting point you bring up! I do agree that getting into Jeffrey’s psyche would be quite interesting. Although, I did feel a huge pull toward Vince in the story. If I do say so, I found him to be a very lovable antagonist. I suppose if I could talk to him, I would want to drink whiskey with him and chat about Neil Young.

JRR: I asked this of Ben Tanzer regarding CCLaP’s first publication Repetition Patterns, but as you are slightly younger than Ben and me, you probably have an interesting perspective and answer. The publishing world seems to be undergoing a slow transition to the digital age – with amazon, Apple, and brick and mortar publishers arguing over the price and format of electronic literature. As a writer whose major work debut was first published in a digital format, are you still attached to the printed word in paper form, or do you see the (Radiohead) model you and CCLaP have used with as the future of publishing? Is digital versus print relevant to you and those writers yet to debut?

SW: I am kind of a contradiction in regards to my thoughts on electronic publishing. I am very much attached to the printed word in paper form but I am not against the digital format. I’ve mentioned this in other interviews but the best way to put it, is that as a reader, I will never choose to read something on the screen. I like the smell of a book. I like the tangibility of it. I am obsessed with book covers and decorating my room with shelves full of novels. As a writer, though, I have nothing against electronic publishing. If I can learn anything from the music industry, it’s that publishing would be making a grave mistake if they denied readers the electronic market that they are demanding. Instead, I am more than willing to utilize the new form and work with the change to get more eyes to read my writing.

JRR:Any final words of wisdom for the writers out there among us, preferably that one thing we’ve all been searching for, yet you’ve already discovered?

SW: It’s funny because I still feel like an aspiring writer myself so I don’t know how much I can really advise others. Instead, the only bit of wisdom I can think of actually comes from Conan O’Brien. A couple weeks ago, I watched his last episode of “The Tonight Show” where he said something that just really resonated with me. He more or less said that if you are kind and hard working, you can achieve anything you want. I agree. In my opinion, kindness and work ethic are the keys to success.

The Town of Hit, Donald Maxwell, 1921

Editor’s Note: Sally Weigel will speak tomorrow April 9, virtually, with Jason Jordan, and finishes her book tour on Sunday, April 11 with the incomparable Kevin Neilson at Between the Lines.

Apart from a sharpened mind, the writer’s most fundamental tools are the pen and paper, or, perhaps in this modern age, the difference engine. Though with the ubiquitous availability of inexpensive and ready-filled pens, one seldom considers what might happen should one need to create one’s own ink. Yet this very thought came to the editor this afternoon while wondering the streets of this arboreally gifted village. Upon directing eyes skyward and into the branches of a young oak, a series of peculiar protuberances reminded the editor of that (very nearly lost) art of ink fabrication, and its source: the oak gall.

The Oak Gall is formed as explained in Dr. Johnathan Pereira’s Elements of Materia Medica (4th Ed., 1855):

On the sides and at the ends of the branches and shoots of this tree, the female [insect] makes a puncture and deposits her egg. The irritation produced by the insect’s bite or sting gives rise to an influx of the juices of the plant to the wounded part, and an excrescence is soon formed, within which the larva is developed, and which is termed a gall, or nutgall.

It so happens that apart from nurturing the particular larva within the rich, but tannic sap — a gall is from 20 to 40 percent tannin, dependent on the tree — the gall maintains other useful properties, not the least of which is the production of a cheap and excellent black ink.

We subjoin a formula for good ink which we might have employed some years ago, had we not found the BIC Round Stic so effectual:—

Ingredients: 4 oz. of bruised Aleppo galls, 2 oz. of gum-arabic, 1½ grain green copperas,1½ oz. of alum, 2 oz. of salt.
Mode: Under the supervision of an alchemist, and wearing a pair of protective rose-colored spectacles, put the above ingredients into a stone bottle, and pour upon them one quart of soft water at boiling heat; shake the bottle well and frequently. It is a good plan to cork the bottle and hang it at the back of a door which is frequently opened and shut. At the end of three weeks strain off the ink and bottle it, with a tablespoonful of brandy. Pour on the ingredients another pint of boiling soft water, which may remain in the bottle till needed, and then be strained off for use. This ink flows freely, and retains its blackness.

The ink should be used to draft your next great work, as its exposure to air deepens the color and artistry of your words.

Editor’s Note: Gum Senegal may be substituted for Gum Arabic; while Iron(II) sulfate may be substituted for green copperas; reckless lab hijinks, however, may not be substituted for common sense. Safety first.

Our friends at The Chicago Center for Literature and Photography (CCLaP) are sending Sally Weigel out into the wilderness on her first virtual book tour in support of her novella Too Young to Fall Asleep. She diffuses useful knowledge here on April 8, 2010. Yet her caravan route to literary fame will also trace its way through many other internet camps, enthralling readers at each stop. The caravan route at Lehochomu Melleha

The Virtual Book Tour will continue upon the following arrangements:—

Monday, 3/29: CCLaP Podcast
Tuesday, 3/30: The Next Best Book Blog
Wednesday, 3/31: Impose Magazine
Thursday, 4/1: Ben Tanzer
Friday, 4/2: What To Wear During an Orange Alert
Sunday, 4/4: Between The Lines
Monday, 4/5: The Teenage Head
Tuesday, 4/6: Mud Luscious
Thursday, 4/8: The Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, with Jason R Riley
Friday, 4/9: decomP

The experience allows us to state — in advance and with confidence — that after reading each of Ms Weigel’s interviews, your enjoyment and understanding of her fine work will continue to improve.

The Travel Book: Kevin Mora and My Ngo spent ten months traveling around the world in 2008-2009. As they traveled through the twenty countries on their itinerary, they tried to avoid the main tourists spots and sought those places where people went about their daily lives. NO MORE TRAVELING…around the world in 10 months is the product of countless hours of planning, preparing, and chronicling their twenty country trip around the world. This 10×8 coffee table photo book includes more than 75 of their finest photos of people, landscapes, and animals. Hopefully their photographs inspire you to travel somewhere you never thought you would go. Their travel blog and additional photographs can be found at

The Encouragement of Charity: Additionally, all proceeds from the sale of NO MORE TRAVELING…around the world in 10 months are being donated to the Thapa family of Chainpur, Nepal. Kevin first met the Thapa family in 2001 while doing some volunteer work in their village. Over the past nine years, Kevin has kept in touch with the Thapas via letters and e-mails. While in Nepal on their around the world trip, Kevin and My traveled to Chainpur to see the family. Despite living in poverty, the Thapa family (which consists of four generations living under one roof) opened their hearts and their home to Kevin and My, making them feel like part of the family. More information about the Thapa family can be found at

Chicago Board of Trade

This interview was originally published February 25, 2009, on I am the original author of this interview; it is not being reprinted illegally. I can assure you, however, that it does contain very useful knowledge.

If you’re a writer, this interview will change your life. As stop number ten of CCLaP’s revolutionary, two-week “virtual book tour”, Chicago author, Ben Tanzer, stopped by to chat about his story collection Repetition Patterns (CCLaP Publishing, 2009). He’s written two novels Lucky Man (Manx Media, 2007, 2009) and Most Likely You Go Your Way and I’ll Go Mine (Orange Alert Press, 2008), and he kindly answered my questions regarding his writing process, effective use of pop culture, publishing’s future, and he revealed that one thing all writers search for, yet he has already discovered.

Jason R. Riley: What are your motives for writing?

Ben Tanzer: I don’t consider writing an option, my motive as dorky as this sounds, is that it was always something I thought I wanted to do, I always had stories in mind for when I got started, and then when I got started it was exhilarating, like when I learned how to read or first started running, everything suddenly seemed like it could be a potential story, or part of the story, and I suddenly found myself editing throughout the day in my head, writing ideas on napkins and endlessly jonesing for the time when I might get to sit down and write. Again, it isn’t a choice anymore, or it doesn’t feel that way at least.

JRR: I hope you don’t mind, I suppose we should have started with this as an epigraph to ease into the interview. My favorite author, Paul Bowles, once said: “Every work suggests its own method.” Writing a short story takes, perhaps, a steadier hand than writing a novel. How did your methods differ when writing Repetition Patterns, and your two novels: Most Likely You Go Your Way and I’ll Go Mine, and Lucky Man?

BT: You know, there is no difference for me really beyond thinking that some ideas seem like they could be great as a stand-alone story of sorts and some seem like they could be part of something longer and could be integrated with a string of other ideas. So with the latter I begin to think more sequentially, this idea leads to that idea which leads to that idea and so on, and with the former, I think how does this idea get expanded, what’s the start and finish and what might I wrap around it. Again, I think the stand alone nature of an idea is key for me, though it can be hard to quantify why something feels that way.

JRR: At what point during your writing did you decide: “Ah ha! there’s a unity of system here, I could write a collection,” or a story cycle, as you’ve called it?

BT: Good question, because in this case, I actually went into the project thinking it would be cool to try and write a series, or cycle, of stories that were evocative of a certain time and place even if the reader isn’t entirely sure what that time or where that place is. I was influenced by a handful of short story collections that seemed to do this so well, Drown by Junot Diaz, When The Messenger is Hot by Elizabeth Crane, What We Talk About When We Talk About Love by Raymond Carver, The Bridegroom by Ha Jin and The Collected Stories of Breece D’J Pancake in particular, and so I thought why not try to write a handful of stories about a town like Binghamton, NY where I grew-up. That was the plan anyway. The stories as a whole were published as individual pieces in various in journals over a couple of years before I connected with CCLaP. The fact that a number of stories are now in one collection is still amazing to me, as is anything that I ever get published.

JRR: I believe you when you state: “these stories will change your life.” In Repetition Patterns I see a central theme of fear, maybe more specifically, a fear of children: getting pregnant; being pregnant; raising a child; screwing-up the child; of being the child; of meeting – by default – the qualifications of parenthood no matter how unqualified one may be. You meant for these stories to carry a message, to shine a mirror on what we’ve become. Was there a point where you needed to cut (or drastically alter) a story you intended to include in the cycle, because it didn’t quite fit the message? Did you do any retro-fitting, so to speak?

BT: There was no significant retrofitting, the pieces as a whole hung together for me in terms of being from the same place geographically and I guess historically, and when I wrote them I wasn’t actually thinking of the themes that were being repeated and that I now come back to again and again, fractured families, parenting, violence, confusion, and such. These stories were written several years ago, really at the beginning of my efforts to become a writer, and well before the novels. And so when I wrote them I wasn’t as conscious of my own fixations and struggles. I certainly wasn’t articulate about them. Jason sort of reminded me that these stories weren’t just about place though, that they actually fit in with the larger collection of work I’m trying to put together and the themes I am endlessly trying to unknot.

JRR: You use a lot of pop culture references, both to set your scenes and as plot devices. In general, there is a certain danger that such references will fall flat. When selecting a pop culture reference to include in your narrative, how do you ensure your references have the power to endure?

BT: This is a great question because the use pop culture can be dangerous to a writer just like swearing can be or referencing blood and sex. These things can stop stories in their tracks and you have to guard against this, which I hope I do, and am conscious of, but still probably miss the boat on again and again. What’s interesting to me is that your question isn’t why I use pop culture, but how do I ensure the references I choose have the power to endure, something Jason and I have argued about many times. The answer, which is not meant to be a cop-out, is that I don’t worry about that and I rarely think about audience. I always write what I find entertaining because while I want to get published, it’s not clear what will get published, if anything, or what people will like, and so I just write and hope for the best. What I will say though, is that I do trust myself to reference things that someone somewhere will be thrilled about or will be recycled in some fashion because we live in a world where everything from Mickey Rourke to The Greatest American Hero is revisited, refreshed and revived at some point and so there is a lot of latitude.

JRR: There is a beautiful realism to your fiction. It’s so well-crafted that – even as a writer myself – I wonder how much of what you write is based on your own experiences; if it’s some version of your own extended autobiography? So, how much of ‘you’ is on the page in Repetition Patterns?

BT: This is super complimentary so thank you. I am quite obsessive about every word and every sentence, and edit like mad, even if my grammar and spelling skills blow and not everything works. Writing is a craft and I do think of it that way. And I definitely draw on my own experiences. Endlessly really, though sometimes it’s just a single moment among many that I look build a story around. So, how much of me is on the page, a lot, and yet not so much. Take the story Pac Man Fever. There was a guy in my hometown who was a Pac Man god and we did go and watch him play, but outside of a candy store that was also in neighborhood, that’s it, there is no other part of that story that is based on anything having to do with me or reality. I just imagined what that guy’s life might look like. Or take What We Thought We Knew, there’s a lot of stuff in that story that I was immersed in or tangentially connected to, the sex abuse and the predatory teacher for example, and my fascination with this girl in my neighborhood, but those things are only related in my head, there’s no true connection to the world I grew-up in and those pieces of the story really have nothing to do with reality. I knew a kid who was sexually abused by his dad, but I don’t know anything about him and never did. And there were some predatory teachers in my junior high school, but they never actually did anything that I know about, they just seemed to hang together in this piece.

JRR: On a related topic, is there ever a fear on your part that someone will “recognize” themselves in your fiction, even if a character is entirely fictional?

BT: Sometimes, but not so much, the most fucked-up things you might read of mine are probably fictional, like the teachers I referenced above, they never did anything, so they probably wouldn’t see anything of themselves in that character. It’s my read on what they might look like in another universe, or, in my head anyway. All that said, someone I knew a long time ago recently came back into my life and there’s a minor character in a piece that doesn’t look much like her, but it is the first time I haven’t wanted someone to read something, and one of the only times I wrote something where I questioned it for a second and thought, she will never read this and I will never see her again. So in general not so much, but like everything else there are exceptions. On the other hand, I have a number of friends who see some small piece of them in different stories and characters, even not so great things and find it very entertaining, as well as, many friends who don’t seem to recognize themselves at all in different stories even though it seems so blatant to me.

JRR: The publishing world seems to be undergoing a slow transition to the digital age, do you see the model you and CCLaP have used with Repetition Patterns as the future of publishing, and how do you think this transition will affect those writers waiting to debut?

BT: It think it is one version of the future, and frankly I hope it is only a supplemental means for publishing, which would be awesome, and so while I am thrilled to experiment with new models and new platforms and have really enjoyed this project, I would hate for books as we usually think of them to go away because I love books, and not just reading them, but holding them and running my finger along the spine and walking through a bookstore for hours. That said, those waiting to debut their work will need to factor this into their thinking and publishing because it is one version of the future, a future which is driven by increased costs and less demand, and a comfort level or preference of many to read a book in just this fashion. If getting the work out there is important to you and it is for me, even if I don’t think about while I am actually writing, it’s best to embrace this model now and make it work for you.

JRR: Any final words of wisdom for the writers out there among us, preferably that one thing we’ve all been searching for, yet you’ve already discovered?

BT: I don’t think I know anything, not really, but I always feel that way. If anything, what I know is cliché, but I remain amazed how often I find myself saying it and people shake their heads in agreement. If you want to write, just write, don’t worry about audience or sales or publishing, just sit down, day after day, find your voice, get advice, write and rewrite, but keep at it, no excuses, you can’t be too tired, or scared or indecisive, don’t get bogged down in the best place to write or time, just force yourself to do it even if nothing happens, because something will happen eventually, it has to. I promise.


March 21, 2010

Iris pseudacorus

YELLOW IRIS. Iris pseudacorus

The present is the First Volume of our Penny Cyclopædia. Perhaps one of the most striking features of this publication is its aim to become a home — or at the very least, a brief respite — for the educated and inquisitive among us, and to do so for zero price. For useful knowledge has sprung from the people, and belongs to the people; yet it is a lantern we must fuel. Within its literary lifetime, we hope our Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge becomes, for those who lose their way and stumble upon it, some measure of an intellectual delight.

We are aware that hosts of new discoveries have been made, and that, to date, an abundance of original electronic observations have been chronicled. Amidst this keen and able competition for the moisture of your tired eyes, we have arrived late. For this we offer no apology. Spring is the season of birth and renewal. On this account alone, therefore, we are justified in our genesis. In spite of this, we propose devoting this special department to Literature (a devotion to which we shall pertinaciously adhere); for that charming branch of amateur and holiday science is still capable of much good service for those students and lovers of the written word.

We therefore cordially invite our readers to assist us in forming and carrying on this particular strand of interweb: The Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge.

Hello world!

March 19, 2010

Skeleton of boa constrictor

Skeleton of boa constrictor

BOA (zoology), the name of a family of serpents which are without venom, the absence of which is amply compensated by immense muscular power, enabling some of the species to kill large animals by constriction, preparatory to swallowing them whole.