the rigorous m

bits and bobs, quotes and catching up

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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