02 May 2007
13 "it doesn't seem like i've ever been there... it seems like i've been there forever."
we can pretty safely say that i'm never going to write a novel. biographies and docudrama screenplays and limericks- maybe yes. but not a novel. never a novel.
BUT. if ever i were to write novel, i know two things.
first, it would be written in first person plural. because, let's face it, if there were a world championship throw-down of narrative voices, first person plural would totally kick ass. screw what the character thinks is going on and what the narrator says is going on. they're an unreliable, ignorant lot. i want to know the story of how the people on the outside of the story see the story as it's going on.
unfortunately, there is no world championship throw-down of narrative voices so one is left to one's own devices to happen upon those first person plural few. the two i know and love are the virgin suicides and the short story "a rose for emily" by william faulkner (who, let us not forget, was 4'9").
the only other thing i know about my novel that will never be is that it would have to be a novel within a series of unconnected novels that nonetheless ride the same internal reference train- sharing characters, places, and concrete details. meaning, you can read my novel i'll never write without having read the other novels i'll never write but, having read the other novels i'll never write, you'll run across people you know, histories that are eerily familiar, places that you think you've been before.
faulkner (who, let us not forget, was 4'9") did this. among contemporary writers, bret easton ellis does it too. ellis does a whole bunch of other creeptastic shit, but i am in complete awe of him primarily because he does this.
over the past five or six years, i've read ellis' first four books. there's always just enough of a time lapse that i forget all about camden and lauren hynde and victor johnson and sean bateman. obviously, patrick's pretty memorable.
this weekend, i finally got around to glamorama (admittedly, only because i recently read somewhere that ellis thought zoolander was a rip-off and consequently sued ben stiller). and i began like you begin any novel you've never read- not knowing any of the characters and not knowing where it's going to take you. then suddenly, out of nowhere, there were people i was kind of sort of sure i had maybe met before.
it took a second to get it. i actually had to run into the Other Room and flip through rules of attraction to be sure i hadn't lost my mind. to be absolutely certain that i've gone to camden. that i know who's been in lauren's bed. that i've met victor before and that i shouldn't be surprised when, in the midst of victor's story, patrick bateman popped up with an inexplicable stain on the lapel of his armani. an inexplicable stain that i could explain.
it's like being among a group of casual acquaintances who one-by-one, on various drunken nights long ago, confided all the secrets of their messed up hearts- only to forever after masquerade as pulled-together minor characters in someone else's story. and there's something compelling in that. because that's kind of how life is. and i think that if a novel is supposed to reflect real life- which i always want so badly for it to do- that is what it needs to be. the story of how the people on the outside of the story wander in.
at least that would be my novel. if i ever wrote it. which i won't. because i'm never going to write a novel. nabokov translations and serbian grammar guides and haiku- maybe yes. but not a novel. never a novel.