Monday, January 11, 2010

Are We so Gullible to Fall for an Delightfully Obvious Gimmick in Padgett Powell's New Novel?

How did this happen? Could it be that in my memory, I have never been witness to a Padgett Powell book that sold this well in hardcover? Are we really up to seven copies sold of The Interrogative Mood?

Is it the striking cover? Could it be the a novel told in all questions would resonate with readers? Is it, as the anonymous Kirkus reviewer labeled it, a one-trick pony? Does that make the book appealing to Paul Simon?

Have we not even been paying attention? Could we sell more? Do I want to read this now? Are four copies enough to display it? What would Jason say if I just put them in the to-be-ordered field?

Can you think of other books like this? Would you consider A Void, the novel by George Perec, that doesn't have the letter "e", to fit the bill? What about Mark Dunn's Ella Minnow Pea (not "pee" as previously written), which progressively loses letters of the alphabet as they are stolen from a small island? Could the recently-read Rabih Alameddine's novel I the Divine fall into this category, since it is completely composed of first chapters?

Can you think of more?


Scot Colford said...

Oh, sure. I always thought Julio Cortázar's Hopscotch was rather gimmicky.

And don't you remember that book that came in two editions, one for men and one for women? Dictonary of the... Whooziwhatsis. I forget the title. The only difference between the editions was one little passage. I thought it was a cheap way for men to pick up literate women.

But don't you go slamming Ella Minnow Pea! (Note the spelling. The title you typed might be entirely different.) Someone even tried to adapt a musical from that! Not successfully, though. I wonder why???

Daniel Goldin said...

Dictionary of the Khazars! I read it, and I read the sentence that was different, and I am still confused about how it changed the book.