I don’t typically post quotes from the books I read on the blog, but this book is filled with these simple and profound statements (never mind that they are undercut by doubt and different logic most of the time), so I thought I’d share some:
“That was a dream, of course, but many of the most important things, I find, are the ones learned in your sleep.”
“I think sanity, however, is the most profound more option of our time.”
“I have a tendency to get stuck in places.”
“You cannot be forever watching for the point, or you lose the simplest thing: being a major character in your own life.”
Renata Adler’s novel, published in 1988, is easily placed in the “experimental” category because it is written in small paragraphs, anecdotes, and scenes that have no chronological connection to the section above. Following a book like this is not a matter of keeping the story straight, but rather looking for how the character develops (not how they develop over the course of their life, but how the reader’s understanding develops through the revelations) and for little patterns and repetitions, for they are certainly there. It’s easy to see how carefully the text is constructed despite the chronology, and I found it entrancing. Adler has a remarkable gift for juxtaposition and association, making complex relationships out of words that have done no more than shake hands before she got to them. If you’re interested in experimental novel writing, or you just want to experience something different from the usual way of novels, I think this book will inspire you.