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The Interrogative Mood: A Novel?by Padgett Powell
Synopses & Reviews
Are you happy? Do we need galoshes? Are bluebirds perfect? Do you know the distinctions, empirical or theoretical, between moss and lichen? Is it clear to you why I am asking you all these questions? Should I go away? Leave you alone? Should I bother but myself with the interrogative mood?
The acclaimed writer Padgett Powell is fascinated by what it feels like to walk through everyday life, to hear the swing and snap of American talk, to be both electrified and overwhelmed by the mad cacophony — the muchness — of America. The Interrogative Mood is Powell's playful and profound response, a bebop solo of a book in which every sentence is a question.
Perhaps only Powell — a writer who was once touted as the best of his generation by Saul Bellow and among the top five writers of fiction in the country by Barry Hannah — could pull off such a remarkable stylistic feat. Is it a novel? Whatever it is, The Interrogative Mood is one of the most audacious literary high-wire acts since Nicholson Baker's The Mezzanine. Powell's unnamed narrator forces us to consider our core beliefs, our most cherished memories, our views on life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. In fiction as in life, there may be no easy answers — but The Interrogative Mood is an exuberant book that leaves the reader feeling a little more alive.
"A delightful stylistic flight, and as engrossing as staying up late at summer camp considering every goofy or brilliant question that comes into your head. Padgett Powell is one of the best writers in America, and one of the funniest, too." Village Voice
"[A] peculiar and mind-popping experience.... Most novels take us away from ourselves, into the lives and minds of other people. The Interrogative Moodgoes boldly in the other direction — and really, wouldn't you like to talk about yourself?" Amy Hempel
"Hypnotic...Jazzy meditations that wrestle with life's important questions." St. Petersburg Times
"Can you picture the rabble-rousing literary offspring of Flannery O'Connor and Donald Barthelme? Does the prospect of reading a lawlessly lyrical, comic novel composed entirely in The Interrogative Mood pique your curiosity?" Luc Sante
"This book will sear the unlucky volumes shelved on either side of it. How it doesn't, itself, combust in flames is a mystery to me. Padgett Powell has given us a wake-up call." Ian Frazier
"A remarkable collection of philosophical inquiries, stimulating either/ors and good-faith measures the gap between where we are as a species and where we belong. The Interrogative Mooddemands to be read deliberately, for it is courageous and entertaining and interested in the essential mysteries of self and society." New Yorker
"[An] ingenious provocation, devious and deeply hilarious riff, perfect party game, not to mention the most entertaining personality test ever devised. But above all it is another brilliant work of fiction, in some ways Powell's best, by one of the few truly important American writers of our time." Kirkus Reviews
"You don't so much read [The Interrogative Mood] as let it shove and jangle you into unexpected and highly pleasurable states of mind. Powell is a master of nouveau Southern lyricism....How this book works is beyond me, but, miraculously, it does." New York Times Magazine
"A supreme literary stunt." Rick Moody
"[This novel] represents superior value in a crumbling economy. Its pages do not tell a story — they tell thousands of stories, all of them starring you. Powell pokes and prods, soothes and slaps you. By the end you will feel as rich as Haroun al-Rashid on the thousandth night." Sam Lipsyte, author of Home Land
Playful and profound, The Interrogative Mood is a bebop solo of a book in which every sentence is a question. In it acclaimed novelist Padgett Powell — a writer once touted as the best of his generation by Saul Bellow — force us to consider our core beliefs, our most cherished memories, our final views on life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. In fiction as in life, there may be no easy answers — but The Interrogative Mood is an exuberant book that leaves the reader feeling more alive.
“If Duchamp or maybe Magritte wrote a novel (and maybe they did. Did they?) it might look something like this remarkable little book of Padgett Powells.”
About the Author
Padgett Powell is the author of four novels, including Edisto, which was nominated for the National Book Award. His writing has appeared in the New Yorker, Harper's, the Paris Review, Esquire, and other publications, as well as in the anthologies Best American Short Storiesand Best American Sports Writing. He lives in Gainesville, Florida, where he teaches writing at MFA@FLA, the writing program of the University of Florida.
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