Tuesday, September 02, 2014
Plan for an impossible novel
There will be paragraphs.
There will be punctuation.
There will be no epigraph in Greek.
There will be no cell phones, computers, or televisions in the novel because such devices belong to the domain of science fiction and this is not a science fiction novel. The presence of radio and ordinary telephones is probationary.
The novel will be, at least in part, a bildungsroman, because only young people are interesting.
Infidelity in a novel is much easier to make interesting than fidelity; as a consequence there will be no infidelity, except perhaps among characters of secondary importance.
There will be sex.
The novel will take place primarily in an urban setting because the modern novel is fundamentally an urban form, the countryside being more suited to poetry. The city will be made up of layers, like overlapping transparencies, and the movements of the characters will take the form of trajectories across and sometimes through the layers. Since cities are more interesting after dark, most of the novel will take place at night.
There will be no violence unless its presence is impossible to ignore. No civilian character will own or handle a firearm, except possibly for humorous effect, as when Alfred Jarry shoots off a pistol in The Counterfeiters.
There will be no autistic savants, evil albinos, children wise beyond their years, or secrets of any kind.
The novel will be a social novel, in the sense that the way in which society is organized will be one of the determining elements in the lives of the characters. It may or may not be a political novel, in the sense that the characters may or may not participate in or be affected by political movements, but it will not be a novel "about politics" or much less about politicians, few of whom are morally interesting enough to be merit preservation in the pages of a novel.
The novel will not be a contingent novel. That is, it will not be "about" anything the subtraction of which would render the enterprise meaningless.
No character will be stupider than the author of the novel.
No character will be wiser than the author of the novel.
The novel will not end with the death of the protagonist. It will not have a happy ending, nor an unhappy ending. This is not to imply that the characters may not, at the end of the novel, be either happy or unhappy, or both simultaneously.
There will be no sequel.