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The Interrogative Mood by Padgett Powell

The Interrogative Mood

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Sue Baker's view...

A short novel written entirely in the form of questions – the questions building to form a commentary on the mundane and ordinary trivialities that constitute the majority of our lives. Challenging? certainly, maddening? sometimes, hypnotic? absolutely and is the author a genius? that I will leave to you to find out.

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The Interrogative Mood by Padgett Powell

'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: immensely readable, ingenious, witty, and ultimately important-feeling in a way you can't quite describe but don't need to' - Richard Ford. Through a seemingly random but infinitely artful series of questions this small masterpiece mysteriously, elusively, hilariously, compellingly lights up life. Are your emotions pure? Are your nerves adjustable? How do you stand in relation to the potato? Should it still be Constantinople? Does a nameless horse make you more nervous or less nervous than a named horse? In your view, do children smell good? - Does your doorbell ever ring? Is there sand in your craw? Could Mendeleyev place you correctly in a square on a chart of periodic identities, or would you resonate all over the board? How many push-ups can you do?


An extraordinary book... a celebration of the human need to understand, which makes it life-affirming. Fresh and funny, it reminded me of the work of that other playful miniaturist, Nicholson Baker. -- Adrian Turpin * Financial Times * Lyrical, profound, heartbreaking and fantastically funny, it becomes, as the questions pile up, a compendious and intimate portrait of the questioner -- Bryan Appleyard * Sunday Times * Powell is asking us to consider what we want from fiction... a remarkable book... Where many experimental novels are content merely to test the limits of our concept of fiction, Powell is more ambitious... he has succeeded in producing a novel which exists entirely off the page; it is our unseen responses which determine what the story will be. -- Sam Byers * TLS * Would you spend GBP9.99 on this book? -- Ben Jackson * The Sun * Surreal, hypnotic and unique... an epic journey of enquiry * Independent * What if I told you that, as unlikely as it may sound, reading this book was one of the most intriguing and pleasurable experiences I have had this year?

An impressive literary comeback and a work of real bravado and charm. The book is not a novel but it manages to do something that many novels try to do: it offers a detailed, fascinating character study by exploring the textures of a highly individual and idiosyncratic sensibility... There is, as these questions accumulate, a kind of melancholy, an obsessive nostalgia that is, in a way that is hard to put one's finger on, deeply moving....

So did I enjoy this book? Should you read it? Do you really have to ask? -- Troy Jollimore * Observer * Is this the most bloody-mindedly brilliant new work of fiction I have read this year? Why? Who's asking? Could you stop that please? -- Stephen Poole * Guardian * When we first came across Padgett Powell's remarkable writing it blew our minds completely... brilliant!... bonkers Beckettian comedy... a truly great and hilarious little book, and these questions are for life. Not just for Christmas. -- Stuart Hammond * Dazed and Confused * A compulsive'll find yourself answering back to every page -- Danielle Goldstein * Time Out * A remarkable book. ..astonishingly insightful...compelling and mesmerising...The prose is beautiful and the questions admirably structured, touching upon all aspects of life from the mundane to the sublime...Powell fires off razor-sharp questions with a casual flair that belies the intensity and personal nature of some of the questions...Brilliantly inventive and intelligent, The Interrogative Mood is a bewildering and fascinating story. Not only is it unique and strange, but this bizarre book will linger in your mind long after you've stopped reading -- Bryony Byrne * Aesthetica * Ingenious... Am ambient inquisition full of random, radiant connections, it's infuriating, elating and quite brilliant. -- Claire Allfree * Metro * Brilliantly bizarre -- Hannah Marriott * Grazia * Gradually enthralls with its kaleidoscopic interrogation of personality, morality and life itself. -- Benjamin Evans * Sunday Telegraph * Very amusing - and a lot more -- William Leith * Evening Standard * Exuberant and funny... The sheer, lunatic variety of Powell's surreal questionnaire exerts a cleverly hypnotic influence -- Robert Collins * Sunday Times *

About the Author

Padgett Powell

Padgett Powell is a novelist whose Edisto was nominated for the US National Book Award. He teaches writing at the University of Florida.

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Book Info

Publication date

10th November 2011


Padgett Powell

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Profile Books Ltd


176 pages


Literary Fiction
eBook Favourites
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Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)



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