Tuesday, January 15, 2008

How Fiction Works

The risky tautology inherent in the contemporary writing project has begun: in order to evoke a debased language (the debased language your character might use), you must be willing to represent that mangled language in your text, and perhaps thoroughly debase your own language. Pynchon, DeLillo, and David Foster Wallace are to some extent Lewis's heirs, and Wallace pushes to parodic extremes his full immersion method: he does not flinch at narrating twenty to thirty pages in the style quoted above. His fiction prosecutes an intense argument about the decomposition of language in America, and he is not afraid to decompose -- and discompose -- his own style in the interests of making us live through this linguistic America with him.

How Fiction Works, James Wood

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