Wednesday, April 16, 2014

It's what you expect and how you read

Here's our reading group discussion of Black Water by Joyce Carol Oates. It's perhaps an interesting insight into the difficulties of innovative fiction. It's a book based on hindsight rather than 'what-happens-next' plot (what happens is given from the outset), with a resulting non-linear structure and an innovative prose style. Opinions in our group were strongly divided, with most people finding the book stunning, but others left cold and unengaged and one even seriously irritated. Most strikingly and interestingly, the two camps had wildly differing impressions of the pace of the book, with those who were positive (and accepting of the premise) finding it urgent and emotionally involving, while those who were negative (and who I suspect preferred to read for plot) found it insufficiently urgent, static and repetitive.

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