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The Interrogative Mood, By Padgett Powell

Is it a novel? And, frankly, who cares?

Brandon Robshaw
Sunday 20 November 2011 01:00 GMT

Would you enjoy reading a book in which every sentence was a question? Would you expect it to become tiresome?

Perhaps you might, but would you change your mind if, as you read, unexpected patterns began to emerge – recurring images of birds, feathers, cars, nudity, ice cream, dogs, toys, oil, TV shows, and themes of nostalgia, loss, ageing, sex and unanswerable philosophical questions?

Would you enjoy being teased by questions such as "Do you believe in justice?" or "Do you prefer a red bean or a black bean?", "Do you like to visit grave sites?" or "Do you realize that people move steadily on, even arguably bravely, unto the end, stunned and more stunned, and numbed and more numbed, by what has happened to them and not happened to them?"?

How about "Do you like it when people sing 'Happy Birthday' to you?"? Or "What was the gentlest, sanest civilization in history?"?

Would questions such as "If you contracted a disease that ate away your eyelids, would you shoot yourself?" make you laugh, cry or yawn? Would you feel you had to answer these questions? Would it bother you that you didn't know whether to describe this book as a novel or not?

Do you think you'd like The Interrogative Mood? Why don't you read it and find out?

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