Sunday, October 2, 2011

Cootie farm

If on a winter's night a traveler...
Italo Calvino

Calvino can be an intriguing fabulist, but there is a limit to how often one can keep  interrogating the very medium<br/>they are writing in before one drops the book and fixes themself a strong drink. Self-reflective art in excessive doses and abusive combinations with other dislocating devices of retired experiments makes you complacent about the value of literary writing itself; what Calvino has going for him is an elegant style that engages you even as he performs the old tricks of revealing what's behind the curtain. For my taste, one should investigate the more recent novels of Paul Auster, especially his New York Trilogy. He essentially manages to have us step back from the linguistic artifice of fiction just enough to makes us aware of just how arbitrary the beginnings, middles and ends of plot outlines are when they are confronted by the irritable unpredictability of  reall events; and yet even with this conceit going for him, he does not lose connection with his stories. These are characters who suffer, laugh, revenge, connive in all their circumstances, quirky and believeable, like we the readers, trying to make sense of situations that defy every template we can attempt to tame them with.