Years ago I put together a collection of horror and sci-fi short stories I’d written around 2010 – 2012. This was shortly before I took a stab at my first novel Pareidolia, and served as a literary canary in a coal mine; I had next to no idea what the creative writing process was like.Continue reading
I just finished reading Infinite Jest for the third time, and this time I took notes. It helped. Keeping the dozen-plus storylines straight in the mist of the rhetorical glitter bombs Wallace throws in your face borders on the Herculean, which I get is on purpose, but I noticed (and more importantly retained) what felt like a good quarter of the story that I missed the last two times around.
I read the first several miniature chapters of George Saunder’s Lincoln In The Bardo with some misgivings. I knew and loved Saunders from Tenth of December and was accustomed to his style, but the overbearing nature of epistolary literature has always rubbed me the wrong way. And this was a whole novel of that? Very hard to grab onto, yet the reviews glowed and gushed. So I pushed on.
I considered myself a science fiction writer all the way through my first novel, Pareidolia. With portals, time travel, impossible rooms, and recovered alien artifacts, there’s no way it could be anything else.
I figured I ought to have a glancing familiarity with my genre, so I assigned myself a long reading list, starting with Frankenstein and ending with the hottest new sci-fi novel of the moment. It didn’t go well.
I started reading Robert Bolaño’s formidable novel 2666 last month, and I’m sure it’ll take me another month to get through it. I don’t read nearly as much as I should, which sometimes makes long novels a pain in the ass to get through. But not this novel. I’m savoring every minute of it.
Aside from the necessary business of revealing character, I’ve come to believe that power is central to great storytelling. It’s more than just a means to an end; specifically in science fiction and fantasy, power and influence become explicit gravitational centers of a narrative. They are externalized and, more importantly, artificial.
(There are no spoilers in this review.)
So I finally broke down and purchased a copy of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest. My love of Tom McCarthy’s Remainder prompted me to scour the internet for “mind bending literature,” the results of which invariably pointed me in one direction.