Those readers among you who did not enjoy Christian Bok’s passages with one vowel in Eunoia will not share my delight in discovering Padgett Powell.
In my usual way of picking up books more or less at random at my new favourite library (the Kathleen Syme in Carlton) I came upon The Interrogative Mood: a novel ?
And yes, you’ve guessed it. 164 pages where every sentence ends in a question mark.
You do need a finely tuned sense of humour to appreciate Powell. I have another of his books entitled You & I, which is a long apostrophe-less exchange between two men. Here is a small example:
A woman is walking a dog and a cat by our house in these rude suburbs and the dog is pink and the cat is blue. She does not appear to be drunk. Or famous.
She is motoring along. Apricot and blue crème.
Call out to her.
And say what?
I don’t know.
If you liked that you’re going to love this excerpt from The Interrogative Mood.
This business of the ears and nose allegedly continuing to grow throughout one’s life-can that be part of a great and benevolent creator’s design, part of a malevolent god’s design, or is it another inscrutable fact of natural selection? Is survival enhanced by a man’s looking more and more like an elephant as he nears his grave? What is your mother tongue? Do you like to party? Was there a period in your adolescence when you eschewed underwear? Do you eschew it now? Do you favour peanuts, cashews or nuts more exotic? Will you have a pet before you die, if you do not have one now? Do you grasp Ohm’s Law? Do you regard cherries as a fruit or a natural candy? Is intelligibility a function of the intelligence of the speaker, the listener, or both? Is it overrated? Is the human individual more important than the individual ant, and if so by a factor, what would you say, of what?
I would imagine you have never considered many of these questions. Think what you might miss if you don’t read this book.
On the other hand if you want to empty a room fairly fast, begin to read it aloud in a relentless manner that signals you are prepared to go on for a very long time.
But we like it.