Tuesday, May 27, 2008


I've been thinking on the question of style, or at least the style in the kind of writing I like. The word that springs to mind is "resistance" and by that I mean that the words chosen, the sentence structure, those visual signs and mechanisms that reveal the very whirly bits and lumps of the author's mind, exert some sort of contrary pull on the reader, on his eye, on the brain. The eye reads from left to right, but the words pull in the other direction. I'm thinking of Issac Babel here, CĂ©line, Hubert Selby Junior, Faulkner, Alan Warner, authors that pluck at the strings and elastic bands and wiring of the mind, rework them until a new sound emerges, the voice of someone you see in a dream but who you've never met. The authentic voice exerts a pressure on the mind, is perhaps a tad monomaniacal in insisting that the reader is faithful to the line, that the reader cleaves to it. And the more you cleave to the line, the more it repels you.

So reading is a form of struggle, a combat sport, a kung fu where reader grapples with the author who grapples with words, and with your head. Or is kung fu where everyone just kicks the shite out each other? Maybe I mean judo. Or perhaps vigorous lovemaking. Ah well.

This is at least true of those books I could be bothered to read.

Tonight I'm going to bed to grapple with Roberto Bolano, as he explains The Savage Detectives to me.

It's raining in Paris, by the way. Like cow who piss.

No comments: