Monday, October 13, 2008

Paperback Writer

Stephen Bly's Paperback Writer is a book that, I think, tries to do something interesting. It seems to me to be a novel that generates a sort of dialogue between a postmodern approach to literature and Christian thought. I am not sure whether that is exactly Bly's intent, but I am not one to think authorial intent matters all that much. Instead, it seems to me, in reading the book, that this is what is happening. And it doesn't happen in a way that is all heady and intellectual. It is done pretty casually, with a discussion taking place between an author and his character about the boundaries between reality and fiction, text and outside-the-text (if there even is such a thing).

I wasn't completely crazy about the book while reading it. There was not much happening in some parts, then what did happen often seemed overblown. (And I think that was partly intentional, as if to give us the idea of an overwrought mind through which we are viewing the events.) I still wouldn't go so far as to say that this is a great book, or even an especially good one, though I think I can go so far to say that it is not bad, and that it seeks to do some interesting things. It won't ever break into my top 100 books list, but it did give me enough to think about for a while after having read it. To me, there's definitely something to be said for that.

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