Saturday, May 27, 2006

Taking a sentence for a walk

The Open Source roundtable about The Great American Novel is a good listen. However, I was disappointed and depressed by Ruth Franklin's and Mark Greif's recommendations of young novelists to look out for. James Wood had said he didn't take part in the poll selecting the greatest US novels of the last 25 years because people choose what they think is appropriate rather than any personal reason. The suspiciously-pleonastic phrase 'public novel' was used to define it. Franklin and Greif chose novelists who write exactly those kind of novels. Scope, relevance and ambition were presented as guarantors of worth. Public worth, I suppose. But what about worth it for me?

I longed for a recommendation of a quiet, uncertain narrative that merely took a sentence for a walk; a novel equivalent of Eloge de l'Amour. I wonder what that would be like?

Actually, maybe I should start writing about novels that have yet to be written. Browsing the library shelves, their ghostly form is often glimpsed as I remove another to peruse, drawn by the title ... and then dolefully replace.

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