the rigorous m

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Archive for July, 2014

asstd reviews of renata adler’s republished novels, speedboat and pitch dark

Posted by rigorousm on July 22, 2014

An Interview with Renata Adler – Guy Cunningham for Bookslut

One of the things that strikes me about the books is their form. Both of them are fragmentary — Speedboat especially is very fragmentary — and that feels very contemporary to me.

The intention was never to be fragmentary. That’s how it came out. But there was never the intent to be fragmentary. You suddenly think, “Wait a minute, this is doing this, let’s stop that.”

One wants — one has a right in a way — to lose oneself in fiction. So one doesn’t want to be brought up short all the time. And then there’s another thing that I seem to do, which is try to put a little essay in there. It’s there because it matters to me. One thing that occurs to me is that plot and momentum and feeling may not have to do with story as we think of it. That is, a sentence may have a plot, a paragraph may have a plot, a cadence may have a plot. And there are other intensities than, say, suspense.

Do you ever think about your fiction’s relationship to poetry? Because I feel like a lot of poets do a similar thing — where all of the drama is in the verse, and all of it comes out of the words.

As it is in music, often. Not so much in Bartók as in something with a clear melody. You get the string quartets and you’re going to be moved. I don’t get that in Bartók, and I don’t get that post-Bartók. I might get that in another way from country and western. If I turn on my car radio, I don’t want to hear a lot of dissonance. So it’s very tricky, that, and how to do that in fiction. In an essay, you can see where there’s static. And you can see where there’s padding. In fiction it’s very hard. Because if you cut away the padding, you may be left with just static.

It seems, in modernism especially, there are people who sort of make the static into part of the text. Like Beckett. I love Beckett, and Beckett in a lot of ways is able to use static.

That’s fascinating. And it’s absolutely true. And the only thing is, I really don’t want static. I admire somebody who can use static. But if somebody says, “Turn that off, that’s static” — that’s convincing to me.

RENATA ADLER interview with the Believer

New Old Works by Renata Adler — Kelsey Osgood for The American Reader

What gives the novel, then, the sense of the uncanny or incongruous is not really the content of the vignettes, but their accumulation, the fact that, when lined up beside one another and compared, they amount to a strange, undecipherable picture. But lots of little tidbits (odd or commonplace) all lumped together, when looked at long enough, can very easily take on the appearance of being enigmatic or profound….It’s almost like a Magic Eye poster, and any child who has ever stared at that pixilation knows that if you don’t see something, you eventually just make it up, or you stare at it long enough to go cross-eyed and believe you see something. The picture extracted from the catalog of oddities Adler gives us can be interpreted as profound in a vertigo-inducing sense, but can also just as easily and validly be seen as boring or pointless, a “dinner that is all condiments,” as Anatole Broyard wrote in one of the few negative reviews of Speedboat, if not the only one. It can amount to reading a smart but depressive person’s Tumblr.

Notes on the Fragmented Novel: Renata Adler’s Pitch Dark by Jeffrey Zuckerman for The Airship Daily



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Posted by rigorousm on July 21, 2014

But the city is danger; she becomes a megalopolis and doesn’t ever stop; she petrifies the countryside into silence like Empires used to smother everything around them; on the ruins of the Nation-state, she rises monstrously, multi-national, transnational, supranational, cosmopolitan… and becomes the sole dehumanized structure of the human species.

– Patrick Chamoiseau, pg. 356, Texaco, trans. Rejouis & Vinokurov

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adler on depressions

Posted by rigorousm on July 21, 2014

When the clouds shift, for one moment, or for several moments, and there is a possibility for action with absolutely no ingredient of reluctance — any action, shopping, playing tennis, getting out of bed– when there is a sense of the capacity to act, without any equal and dialectical incapacity to act, or desire not to, when the urge to move is, for a moment, some moments, freed of the urge to move another way, or not to move at all, or the drag of a rock, a doubt, a paralysis; then it is as though clouds did part, briefly, in a place where the climate is always and always inimical. There are, of course, sadnesses that appear to consist of a stillness heaped upon a stillness, layers of apathy, over a base that is despaire and lack of hope. Despair and lack of hope, because lack of hope is by no means incompatible with the cloudless and the free state. … But if the state, the condition, the zone, the tenor of spirit, where no light shines lacks any ingredient either of calm or of expectation, there are also depressions of which the appearance is jaunty, counterdepressive. That is, the degree to which the creature is able to act, or to permit itself to be seen, reflects such a surface play of the energy, which, in its perfect conflict, has brought to the paralysis an almost convulsive force, that the energy appears active, liberated, even cheerful. Analysis has no access to this condition. It poses very radically, however, the question of what it is to be sincere.

You can see it from here; but just try to get to it.

What you want, don’t you see, what you want is, under the conscious pressures, a surprise within the rules.

— Renata Adler, Pitch Dark, p 68.

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