Monday, November 07, 2005

The Pleasure of Chasing After the Story

Alligator is Lisa Moore’s first novel and it follows upon two critically acclaimed short story collections. Alligator has received rave reviews from many but has been criticized by some for lack of a central narrative focus and unresolved storylines. It has been short-listed for this year’s Giller Prize, often described as Canada’s most prestigious fiction award, the winner of which will be announced tomorrow evening.

In a recent CBC interview, Moore had some very interesting things to say about fiction writing and form. Here's her response to a question about whether she has “an avant-garde streak:”

I want to break the parameters of what the reader expects is coming. So, if we’re talking about any given sentence, I want the sentence to end in a way that the reader is not expecting. I want the paragraph to end and begin and be something the reader is not expecting. But also be inevitable. If there is a golden rule, that’s it. If the reader knows where you’re going, there’s no point in reading that sentence; they’ll just skip it.

It’s not for the sake of being avant-garde that I want it to be unexpected. It’s because I think a real engagement with a book means that the reader has to chase after the story. Their imagination has to be working, and it’s the energy that’s expended by the imagination at work that is the pleasure of reading. If they know what’s happening, then there’s no pleasure.

Another topic addressed in the interview that is a continuing preoccupation of mine is the formal distinction between short stories and novels. Click here for the rest of the interview.

No comments: