Late Again At XFX

images-5.jpgThe new year rolled around and I successfully updated all the parts of A Celebration of Reading (ACOR) to start the new reading list and catalog the books I read during the year. I even contemplated removing or radically modifying my Bookshelves entries since I will be donating most of the books as I move to much smaller quarters in Florida and since I have replaced so many of those books with digital versions to read on my iPad.

So I’m sitting here sipping tea and noting the imaginative, experimental books I have already read this month and contemplating a few upcoming titles that have my own bodily fluids gurgling when I realized that I had forgotten to update and extend the reading list for the embedded Experimental Fiction reading group (XFX).

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Tropisms

images-3.jpgNathalie Sarraute describes tropisms as the “interior movements that precede and prepare our words and actions, at the limits of our consciousness.” They happen in an instant, and apprehending them in the rush of human interactions demands painstaking attention. Tropisms are the key to all of Sarraute’s work.

Since Sarraute is also a central writer in the nouveau roman, it is interesting to compare her “tropisms” to Robbe-Grillet’s Snapshots. In both works it is commonly asserted that they show the sources of the theory and technique of these writers (although one critic referred to R-G’s work as “aesthetic squiggles”).

The comparison is apt but I will suggest that Robbe-Grillet is more a noun while Sarraute is more a verb.

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Tap, Tap, Tapping On the Same Nail

MartereauAs I was reading Nathalie Sarraute’s Martereau I began to see a connection—a pattern—between her novel and a couple of other writers. Since Sarraute is one of the central practitioners of the nouveau roman, I immediately considered my favorite author, Alain Robbe-Grillet. But Sarraute’s novel was different (while still being the same) and all the attention to detail and to cerebral analysis brought Joseph McElroy to mind, especially his challenging novel, Actress In the House, or even more so his novel Women and Men that has challenged me for years and I have yet to conquer.

What is it about Martereau that makes it seem dense and demanding?

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Books that wound and stab us

Robbe-GrilletTwo things:  my favorite author has been and remains Alain Robbe-Grillet (see) and although I find many of the postmodern works fun and thought-provoking, I turn to the Nouveau Roman for its challenges outside of the traditional definition of a novel. Earlier I discussed Robbe-Grillet and also suggested that La Jealousie was my go-to, if not favorite, novel (see).

Abrahms writes about La Jealousie in the Glossary:

Thus Alain Robbe-Grillet, a leader among the exponents of the nouveau roman (the new novel) in France, wrote Jealousy (1957), in which he left out such standard elements as plot,characterization, description of states on mind, locations in time and space, and frame of reference to the world in which the work is set. We are simply presented in this novel with a sequence of perceptions, mainly visual, which we may naturalize (that is, make intelligible in the mode of standard narrative procedures) by postulating that we are occupying the physical space and sharing the hyperacute observations of a jealous husband, from which we may infer also the tortured state of his disintegrating mind. Other new novelists are Nathalie Sarraute and Philippe Sollers.

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