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The Interrogative Mood Paperback – 10 Nov 2011
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An extraordinary book... a celebration of the human need to understand, which makes it life-affirming. Fresh and funny, it reminded me of the work of that other playful miniaturist, Nicholson Baker. (Adrian Turpin Financial Times 2010-10-23)
Lyrical, profound, heartbreaking and fantastically funny, it becomes, as the questions pile up, a compendious and intimate portrait of the questioner (Bryan Appleyard Sunday Times 2010-10-31)
Powell is asking us to consider what we want from fiction... a remarkable book... Where many experimental novels are content merely to test the limits of our concept of fiction, Powell is more ambitious... he has succeeded in producing a novel which exists entirely off the page; it is our unseen responses which determine what the story will be. (Sam Byers TLS 2010-11-12)
Would you spend £9.99 on this book? (Ben Jackson The Sun 2010-11-12)
Surreal, hypnotic and unique... an epic journey of enquiry (Independent 2010-11-13)
What if I told you that, as unlikely as it may sound, reading this book was one of the most intriguing and pleasurable experiences I have had this year?
An impressive literary comeback and a work of real bravado and charm. The book is not a novel but it manages to do something that many novels try to do: it offers a detailed, fascinating character study by exploring the textures of a highly individual and idiosyncratic sensibility... There is, as these questions accumulate, a kind of melancholy, an obsessive nostalgia that is, in a way that is hard to put one's finger on, deeply moving....
So did I enjoy this book? Should you read it? Do you really have to ask?(Troy Jollimore Observer 2010-11-07)
Is this the most bloody-mindedly brilliant new work of fiction I have read this year? Why? Who's asking? Could you stop that please? (Stephen Poole Guardian 2010-11-13)
When we first came across Padgett Powell's remarkable writing it blew our minds completely... brilliant!... bonkers Beckettian comedy... a truly great and hilarious little book, and these questions are for life. Not just for Christmas. (Stuart Hammond Dazed and Confused 2010-11-01)
A compulsive read...you'll find yourself answering back to every page (Danielle Goldstein Time Out 2010-11-18)
A remarkable book. ..astonishingly insightful...compelling and mesmerising...The prose is beautiful and the questions admirably structured, touching upon all aspects of life from the mundane to the sublime...Powell fires off razor-sharp questions with a casual flair that belies the intensity and personal nature of some of the questions...Brilliantly inventive and intelligent, The Interrogative Mood is a bewildering and fascinating story. Not only is it unique and strange, but this bizarre book will linger in your mind long after you've stopped reading (Bryony Byrne Aesthetica 2010-11-01)
Ingenious... Am ambient inquisition full of random, radiant connections, it's infuriating, elating and quite brilliant. (Claire Allfree Metro 2011-11-02)
Brilliantly bizarre (Hannah Marriott Grazia 2011-11-08)
Gradually enthralls with its kaleidoscopic interrogation of personality, morality and life itself. (Benjamin Evans Sunday Telegraph 2011-11-06)
Very amusing - and a lot more (William Leith Evening Standard 2011-11-03)
Exuberant and funny... The sheer, lunatic variety of Powell's surreal questionnaire exerts a cleverly hypnotic influence (Robert Collins Sunday Times 2011-11-06)
Precise and beautiful, intimate and hilarious, you will never have read anything quite like itSee all Product description
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As an educator, the thought has crossed my mind that it would be a good exercise for my students to fill several sides with questions that come to their minds because if reading it has an effect on the reader then surely writing such a text will have a profound effect on the writer. The questions are personal because it is the writer who has come up with them and so, this time, I was not put off by the constant references to the references the author makes to things that only people from his background might know about.In the end I decided that everyone should write such a book. Why? Because in the end I believe it gives the writer as well as the reader a different insight into themselves than other forms of writing.
There are many different types of question. What they all have in common - even the rhetorical question - is the assumption of someone to whom the question is addressed. Powell can't know who his readers are, and so what any given reader might respond to any given question. It isn't clear whether his unnamed questioner has a particular addressee in mind. So 'The Interrogative Mood' works by posing to unknown interlocutors successions of questions that seem more or less arbitrarily divided into sections that in a more traditional work might correspond to chapters. Some of these questions invite direct responses that are never forthcoming - unless the reader chooses to provide them. Some questions follow from others, but most do not - although as the reader progresses, certain patterns of recurrence make themselves felt.
Some of these questions are funny, some metaphysical, others disconcertingly personal or eccentric. Slowly, the vague outline of a guiding personality behind the interrogation - someone who may be more serious in his intent than at first appears - surfaces, only to submerge again with a new non sequitur.
The novel is an almost infinitely flexible form. Whether 'The Interrogative Mood' is in any meaningful sense a novel is beside the point. Its tone reminded me of a number of American postmodernist writers, notably the late Donald Barthelme, whose best work was in the form of short stories that often have a similar balance of superficial humour and underlying anxiety and discontent.
'Are you a sweater person?' After a while in Powell's company, an innocent question seems to disclose hidden depths. One sees that the mere possibility of the interrogative mood opens up a universe of uncertainty and regret.
This is a book I wanted to reread almost immediately on finishing it.
Is a book simply made up of questions a thinking tool, an open-ended piece of poetry, or a pleasant waste of time? Possibly all three.
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Most recent customer reviews
Rambling Mad Man, you write very well.