Here is an essay of mine from my book Notes Home from a Prodigal Son, also published in Dalkey Archive’s magazine Context, which you can find at the link below. It used to be online but then disappeared when Dalkey reorganized its website. Now it’s back. The late, great French-Canadian novelist Hubert Aquin was a huge influence on me: he was a pyrotechnic genius, a black romantic, a revolutionary spirit and a suicide. He burned hard and bright. Nothing like him anywhere else.
1. Why are some novels more difficult to read than other novels? Why do some authors choose to write difficult books when they could just as easily write so-called well-made books, books that would presumably have a better chance of achieving a wide audience and commercial success? If writing a book, like speaking, is a form of communication, then doesn’t difficulty rather defeat the purpose of writing at all? What is the difference between a difficult book and a well-made book? And how do they both relate to the not-writing of a book, to unwriting, to silence?
Read the rest at Difficulty and Revolution | Dalkey Archive Press.