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The Interrogative Mood: A Novel? Hardcover – Bargain Price, September 29, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
“Can you picture the rabble-rousing literary offspring of Flannery O’Connor and Donald Barthelme? Does the prospect of reading a lawlessly lyrical, comic novel composed entirely in The Interrogative Mood pique your curiosity?” (Vanity Fair )
“[Powell] has a rare ear for dialect and dialogue, a dedication to new ways of making words jump and dance and catch fire.” (New York Times Magazine )
“Offhanded, witty, original, and [an] altogether unique book. . . . Here, he’s less a writer in the school of John Casey or Peter Taylor than he is a member of the badass gang of Barry Hannah. The Interrogative Mood, serious and laughable, extends this legacy.” (Rick Moody )
“A supreme literary stunt.” (Jonathan Lethem )
“[A] peculiar and mind-popping experience. . . . Most novels take us away from ourselves, into the lives and minds of other people. The Interrogative Mood goes boldly in the other direction — and really, wouldn’t you like to talk about yourself?” (St. Petersburg Times )
“Hypnotic...Jazzy meditations that wrestle with life’s important questions.” (The New Yorker )
“Intimate and hilarious—the yearning is as powerful as all that is evoked and revealed in this precise and beautiful novel.” (Amy Hempel )
“A delightful stylistic flight, and as engrossing as staying up late at summer camp considering every goofy or brilliant question that comes into your head. Padgett Powell is one of the best writers in America, and one of the funniest, too.” (Ian Frazier )
“This book will sear the unlucky volumes shelved on either side of it. How it doesn’t, itself, combust in flames is a mystery to me. Padgett Powell has given us a wake-up call.” (Jonathan Safran Foer )
“If Duchamp or maybe Magritte wrote a novel (and maybe they did. Did they?) it might look something like this remarkable little book of Padgett Powell’s: immensely readable, ingenious, witty, and ultimately important-feeling in a way you can’t quite describe but don’t need to.” (Richard Ford )
“[This novel] represents superior value in a crumbling economy. Its pages do not tell a story—they tell thousands of stories, all of them starring you. Powell pokes and prods, soothes and slaps you. By the end you will feel as rich as Haroun al-Rashid on the thousandth night.” (Luc Sante )
“[An] ingenious provocation, devious and deeply hilarious riff, perfect party game, not to mention the most entertaining personality test ever devised. But above all it is another brilliant work of fiction, in some ways Powell’s best, by one of the few truly important American writers of our time.” (Sam Lipsyte, author of HOME LAND )
“You don’t so much read [The Interrogative Mood] as let it shove and jangle you into unexpected and highly pleasurable states of mind. Powell is a master of nouveau Southern lyricism....How this book works is beyond me, but, miraculously, it does.” (Village Voice )
“The book intrigues as it entertains… [Powell’s] questions and nonsequiturs will have you looking at your own life with a renewed sense of observation—and a healthy appetite for the absurd.” (5 stars) (Time Out New York )
“A remarkable collection of philosophical inquiries, stimulating either/ors and good-faith measures the gap between where we are as a species and where we belong. The Interrogative Mood demands to be read deliberately, for it is courageous and entertaining and interested in the essential mysteries of self and society.” (New York Times Book Review )
Top Customer Reviews
I believe here is a new way of storytelling, and a very interesting and rewarding one. When I got over my initial surprise (and yes, impatience) I found that instead of sort of trying to answer the questions, my brain started to go with the flow... much as I would go along with a strong, intelligent and convincing voice, not unlike those of Nabokov's Charley Kinbote or Martin Amis' John Self. But even among these giants Powell more than holds his own. The Interrogative Mood literally forces your brain to make up its own 'story', and in that sense offers a truly different and new reading experience. Much more than previous lame experiments in 'interactive' storytelling, this book needs a good reader to make it happen, to make it complete. Be that reader and you will never forget it.
How did the writer know when to start a new paragraph? Isn't a paragraph supposed to have a topic sentence? Is it up to the reader to interpret the significance of the paragraph structure, too? If a paragraph on page 20 changed places with one on page 100, would you be able to tell? Can you think of any other book where you could do that and get away with it?
Amy Hempel, were you really referring to this book when you wrote that this is a "precise and beautiful novel"? In what way is this a "novel"? Do novels require characters and plot? What,exactly, did you find precise and beautiful?
Are you still interested in reading this book? Does your library have a copy? Would you really consider buying it?
Powell, though, has a mastery and joy of language that I haven't seen since his mentor, Donald Barthelme. The depth of material, the wonderfully acoustic and left-field range of subjects, make what may sound at first like an interesting exercise (but not something akin to novel) a plain joy to read. Just listen to these variations and rhythm:
If you had a dog small enough to be transported in the pocket of your coat, what would you name it? Do you think in terms of salvation or redemption? Do you appreciate the color changes of leavews in the fall or is that spectacle a tad too popularly sentimental for you? Have you ever been catheterized? Is there a set number of rings you like a phone to ring before you pick up? Does the noise made by corduroy pants irritate you? Do you eat flan?
But Powell is not only a master of variation, but of repetition:
Would you say that you are pro peanut brittle, anti peanut brittle, or would you say "I do not have a dog in the peanut-brittle fight"?
Powell's interrogative sentences are worthy of reading aloud, of friggin' laughing aloud at, of waylaying unsuspecting strangers with. There's little more than I can offer here--read the damn book, already.
Then jump on in-this is the book you have been waiting for: they are few and far between.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It's definitely a different kind of book. I cannot comment on whether the author is a good writer or a bad writer relative to storytelling. The book does make you think. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Saucy
In a word, brilliant!
This effort may not be for everyone, but I loved it. Yes, every single sentence is a seemingly random question placed in a seemingly random order. Read more
This book isn't simply a bunch of silly questions from a clever and funny writer. The experience of reading it was very unique and quite enjoyable. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Jason in Portland
Could not sustain interest in this clever arrangement of questions. Some themes recurred but is still a mystery to mePublished 16 months ago by Patricia M. Carey
What if I told you I loved this book for no particular reason?
Why should you care what I think? Will you lmk if my review pisses you off or pleases you? Read more
This is a tour de force that I loved, mostly for the dazed states of mind this endless stream of questions put me through - until I realised that indeed, one can get used to almost... Read morePublished on May 29, 2014 by Hugh Pope