padgett powell

the interrogative mood. an addictively readable experimental novel, which is not a sentence i write very often. funny, surreal, intriguing and peculiarly moving in places. but no narrative, no characters, no location. just questions. about 3,000 of them. one after the other. and nothing else.

do you ever hold hands with anyone? if you do not, are there circumstances in which you would hold hands with anyone? if there were a gun case full of guns, yours or someone else's, and one of the guns was dirty and fouled from use, would you want to see that one gun got cleaned? if you were at a landfill and saw a large pile of girlie magazines, which you do not customarily look at, beside a large pile of unopened tins of skoal, which you have never used, would you go over there and take a pinch of snuff and have a look at a magazine?  do buzzards give you the creeps? have you ever constructed a sandbox? if you once owned a slide rule and do not have it now, do you know what happened to it?

it works i think for several reasons. partly because it's a joyous celebration of the sheer mind-bending variety of stuff that goes into a human life. and partly because the reader is the hero. the book asks the question but we have to answer them. and it really did teach me things about myself which i had never considered before, and forced me to retrieve things i had completely forgotten (i did indeed have a slide rule and it was my father's and it was wonderful and i can practically smell it but i suddenly realise that i have no idea where it went and there's something terribly sad about that).