The Impossibility of Writing The Book

March 20, 2015 § Leave a comment

Tom McCarthy, “Tom McCarthy by Frederic Tuten,” BOMB 131 (Spring 2015)

I finished the first draft of C a week before my first daughter was born. Five years and another daughter later, my next — short — novel is coming out. The writing definitely got slowed down. Sleep was a major problem for a couple of years — there just wasn’t any. But it all works its way back into the work. Satin Island is, to some extent, a book about a restless struggle with the impossibility of writing the Book. Social life—well, you go out and meet interesting people, and that galvanizes ideas and gives birth to other projects. It all finds its way back, even, especially, the time-wasting. If you think about it, time-wasting is probably the central theme of most modern literature. Leopold Bloom spends his whole day time-wasting; Marcel Proust, his whole life.

Writing as a Form of Displacement

March 17, 2015 § Leave a comment

Ben Lerner, Interview by Max Liu, frieze 16 March 2015

I always have to claim not to be doing something in order to do it. . . . You don’t always write what you set out to write, so writing can be a form of displacement.

. . . As a poet, I also ask myself how silence informs words. How is silence felt? How is negative space activated in a poem? So, in both my fiction and my poetry, I’m exploring the ways in which an absence can be felt as a presence.

Exploring the Space Left by my Substraction

February 21, 2015 § Leave a comment

David Winters, Infinite Fictions: Essays on Literature and Theory

In this respect, when writing reviews, I’m less intent on making prescritions than on exploring the space left by my substraction.

The Never Before

February 14, 2015 § Leave a comment

Peter Markus, “Fiction as Magic, Language as Spell: Peter Markus with Lily Hoang,” The Brooklyn Rail 3 February 2015

The hum is what I’m ultimately and unfailingly chasing after in all of this: when I bring my gaze to a painting, when I lean my ears to any acoustical sound, when I hold in my hands the pages that belong to others, when I enter into whatever kind of church or other kind of cave that I seek to climb and hide inside. Some might call this a search for the primal, or the sublime, or the spiritual, or an encounter with the otherworldly, or better yet the hunting down for that thing itself which hasn’t yet been named. For me that’s what it all boils down to: the wish to tap into the never before. That’s the best way for me to try to say it with words. I want to be transported to a place where words no longer mean what we think they mean. Maybe this is the revelation behind it all, the magic herb for us to place beneath our tongues.

All Things Resist Being Written Down

February 11, 2015 § Leave a comment

Franz Kafka, Diaries, 1910-1923 (New York: Schocken Books)

20 October 1913. …I don’t even have the desire to keep a diary, perhaps because there is already too much lacking in it, perhaps because I should perpetually have to describe incomplete — by all appearances necessarily incomplete — actions, perhaps because writing itself adds to my sadness. …All things resist being written down.

The Book-Beyond-The-Book

January 28, 2015 § Leave a comment

Tom McCarthy, Satin Island (2015)

…this not-Report you’re reading now, this offslew of the real, unwritten manuscript… (p. 115)

I’d begun to suspect — in fact, I’d become convinced — that this Great Report was unplottable, unframeable, unrealizable: in short, an in whatever cross-bred form, whatever medium or media, unwritable. Not just by me, with my limited (if once celebrated) capabilities, but fundamentally, essentially, inherently unwritable. . . . Even when I reasoned these last, deranged notions back out to the fringes of my mind, I was still left with the immovable fact of the thing’s unwritability. This filled me with anger, and a feeling of stupidity, and sadness, too — grief not for an actual loss but, worse, for a potential or iaginary one: this beautiful, magnificent Report: this book, the Book, the fucking Book, that was to name our era, sum it up; this book that left the format of the book itself behind, this book-beyond-the-book. . . . (pp. 115-116)

A Normal Novel

January 25, 2015 § Leave a comment

Adam Thirlwell, Interview by Alex Clark, The Observer 25 January 2015

One problem with writing is to find something that survives its finishing, that still feels as ruthless or nasty or mischievous as when it was begun. The finished object is always neater than expected. The dream is of this entirely impolite object, a gruesome and difficult toy. And then always once you’ve finished it, it turns out to be a normal novel

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