Disconnected Narratives

There’s a certain kind of literature that doesn’t behave normally. It doesn’t have a plot arc, the characters don’t do things that advance the story and time doesn’t go from past to future. Instead, things jump about, often without there being a connection between one scene and the next, or one event and another. This literature is called experimental.

Historically, people used to write books that reflected reality. Then someone decided that reality was too difficult so people started to write books about what they thought reality was. Then this got boring so people wrote books about people writing books about what people thought reality was. Then they got confused and wrote books about people finding that writing books about people who don’t understand the way that people write books about the state of the world was a little too recherché and so they went back to writing trite poems about weevils.

And so here we are:

I am a weevil
My name is Bill
I don’t like top hats
And neither would she.

But seriously. Could I use the kind of disconnected narratives that I find in stories like Lipskybound by Lindsay Barrett, ‘Three Stories About Love’ by Anne Enright, Speedboat by Renate Adler or The Unfortunates by B. S. Johnson? My answer is: only if I lose faith in life being a connected and coherent experience.

Authors who find that life is confusing will either write stories about being lost in confusion or about trying to make sense of that confusion. I prefer the latter because I think of life as being what we make it.

If I want life to be one big experiment where all bets are off, boundaries disintegrate, people are lost in their own selfish individuality and all the gods are dead or dying then that’s what I’ll write. But I happen to think that the world’s a better place for putting something more heartwarming into it. So that’s what I’m going to do. What about you?

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