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Question, Questions, Questions?

Padgett Powell's bebop solo of a book is 164 pages of interrogatory--that's right, questions.

Book Cover Amongst the incalculably lengthy list of authors who have not received their due (also an incalculable notion) you will find, with regularity, the name of Padgett Powell. Powell (Edisto), who teaches at the University of Florida and has collected plaudits from Ian Frazier and Barry Hannah to Saul Bellow, has a new fiction out that his publisher labels "an exuberant book" and a "wildly inventive, jazzy meditation on life and language," and about which Richard Ford blurbs, "If Duchamp or maybe Magritte wrote a novel (and maybe they did. Did they?) it might look something like this remarkable little book of Padgett Powell's."

And what is this "bebop solo of a book?" Well, it seems the authorial conceit exhibited in The Interrogative Mood (Ecco) is that its 164 pages are composed entirely of questions--a literary feat you may or may not find engrossing. Despite the well-intentioned promoters hyper-enthusiasm for this tome, this "playful and profound book" may not be the best access point into Powell's oeuvre, since it is a huge deviation from the lyricism exhibited in his past work. And then again its originality puts it in a class by itself.

In the Important to the Book Industry venue, Josh Emmons intones the book is:
...a fearless meditation on the sublime and the trivial, a hydra-headed reflection of life as it is experienced and of thought as it is felt. With echoes of the Tao Te Ching, "My Funny Valentine," Pascal's "Pensées," "Green Eggs and Ham," Annie Dillard's "This Is the Life" and countless other quests for conviction that secretly understand and depend on the futility of such quests, it is wondrous strange.
True enough.
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