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Monday, October 26, 2009

Is Padgett Powell in The Mood?

PadgettPowellWEB-arts

What if I told you Padgett Powell’s new book, The Interrogative Mood, is nothing but questions? Would that intrigue you? Or would the mere mention of the idea give you cause to keep your distance? For the people remaining, would you still be interested after learning the questions don’t necessarily relate to one another, at least not in a traditional narrative or linear fashion? Would you stick around with The Interrogative Mood for 164 pages? Can I stop now?

The book’s spine asks, “A novel?” rather than declare the form. It’s a fair question. Flipping through the slim volume, The Interrogative Mood is both hard to define and easy to dismiss. You’re likely to land on questions such as “Can you change a tire by yourself?” or “Would you eat a monkey?” It looks more like experimental poetry inspired by Facebook personality tests than a novel. Even worse, it has the faint odeur of imitation Dada — work that might have been clever if it had been performed at a café in Switzerland 90 years ago.

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(Photo Courtesy Padgett Powell)

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