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The Interrogative Mood: A Novel? Paperback – Sep 16 2010

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco; Reprint edition (Sept. 16 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061859435
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061859434
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 1.1 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 286 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #410,858 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


“Captivating and often glorious.” (New York Times Book Review, Paperback Row)

“Can you picture the rabble-rousing literary offspring of Flannery O’Connor and Donald Barthelme? Does the prospect of reading a lawlessly lyrical, comic novel composed entirely in The Interrogative Mood pique your curiosity?” (Vanity Fair)

“[Powell] has a rare ear for dialect and dialogue, a dedication to new ways of making words jump and dance and catch fire.” (New York Times Magazine)

“Offhanded, witty, original, and [an] altogether unique book. . . . Here, he’s less a writer in the school of John Casey or Peter Taylor than he is a member of the badass gang of Barry Hannah. The Interrogative Mood, serious and laughable, extends this legacy.” (Rick Moody)

“A supreme literary stunt.” (Jonathan Lethem)

“[A] peculiar and mind-popping experience. . . . Most novels take us away from ourselves, into the lives and minds of other people. The Interrogative Mood goes boldly in the other direction — and really, wouldn’t you like to talk about yourself?” (St. Petersburg Times)

“Hypnotic...Jazzy meditations that wrestle with life’s important questions.” (The New Yorker)

“Intimate and hilarious—the yearning is as powerful as all that is evoked and revealed in this precise and beautiful novel.” (Amy Hempel)

“A delightful stylistic flight, and as engrossing as staying up late at summer camp considering every goofy or brilliant question that comes into your head. Padgett Powell is one of the best writers in America, and one of the funniest, too.” (Ian Frazier)

“This book will sear the unlucky volumes shelved on either side of it. How it doesn’t, itself, combust in flames is a mystery to me. Padgett Powell has given us a wake-up call.” (Jonathan Safran Foer)

“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)

“[This novel] represents superior value in a crumbling economy. Its pages do not tell a story—they tell thousands of stories, all of them starring you. Powell pokes and prods, soothes and slaps you. By the end you will feel as rich as Haroun al-Rashid on the thousandth night.” (Luc Sante)

“[An] ingenious provocation, devious and deeply hilarious riff, perfect party game, not to mention the most entertaining personality test ever devised. But above all it is another brilliant work of fiction, in some ways Powell’s best, by one of the few truly important American writers of our time.” (Sam Lipsyte, author of HOME LAND)

“You don’t so much read [The Interrogative Mood] as let it shove and jangle you into unexpected and highly pleasurable states of mind. Powell is a master of nouveau Southern lyricism....How this book works is beyond me, but, miraculously, it does.” (Village Voice)

“The book intrigues as it entertains… [Powell’s] questions and nonsequiturs will have you looking at your own life with a renewed sense of observation—and a healthy appetite for the absurd.” (5 stars) (Time Out New York)

“A remarkable collection of philosophical inquiries, stimulating either/ors and good-faith measures the gap between where we are as a species and where we belong. The Interrogative Mood demands to be read deliberately, for it is courageous and entertaining and interested in the essential mysteries of self and society.” (New York Times Book Review)

From the Back Cover

Playful and profound, The Interrogative Mood is a bebop solo of a book in which every sentence is a question. In it acclaimed novelist Padgett Powell—a writer once touted as the best of his generation by Saul Bellow—force us to consider our core beliefs, our most cherished memories, our final views on life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. In fictionas in life, there may be no easy answers—but The Interrogative Mood is an exuberant book that leaves the reader feeling more alive.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x98850aa4) out of 5 stars 52 reviews
35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x98445378) out of 5 stars Is this a novel? Nov. 27 2009
By mhpc - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Whatever this book is or will be recognized to be, it is one of a kind. Literally every sentence in the book is a question. What amazed and delighted me is that it's actually a good read! Not just because it is witty, captivating, touching and beautifully written... there are more examples of all that. I was reminded more than once of Holden Caulfield. I could well believe that this is him badgering you with all these questions. (and in view of Salinger's easy access to lawyers I hasten to add that this is purely my own private impression, and in no way is the author responsible.)

I believe here is a new way of storytelling, and a very interesting and rewarding one. When I got over my initial surprise (and yes, impatience) I found that instead of sort of trying to answer the questions, my brain started to go with the flow... much as I would go along with a strong, intelligent and convincing voice, not unlike those of Nabokov's Charley Kinbote or Martin Amis' John Self. But even among these giants Powell more than holds his own. The Interrogative Mood literally forces your brain to make up its own 'story', and in that sense offers a truly different and new reading experience. Much more than previous lame experiments in 'interactive' storytelling, this book needs a good reader to make it happen, to make it complete. Be that reader and you will never forget it.
48 of 57 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x99f0cd8c) out of 5 stars Can I ask a few questions, too? Feb. 28 2010
By Stuart Dolnick - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
What's the point? Is it the reader's task to somehow make sense out of a series of random questions? Is novelty enough, or should a new form justify its existence by actually accomplishing something?

How did the writer know when to start a new paragraph? Isn't a paragraph supposed to have a topic sentence? Is it up to the reader to interpret the significance of the paragraph structure, too? If a paragraph on page 20 changed places with one on page 100, would you be able to tell? Can you think of any other book where you could do that and get away with it?

Amy Hempel, were you really referring to this book when you wrote that this is a "precise and beautiful novel"? In what way is this a "novel"? Do novels require characters and plot? What,exactly, did you find precise and beautiful?

Are you still interested in reading this book? Does your library have a copy? Would you really consider buying it?
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
By A. Stevenson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I had a smile on my face the whole time I was reading this book. Witty, ridiculous, droll, disarming, laugh-out-loud, original. A peek inside the author's mind: Ye gods, fella! I really loved it.
17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x98443cd8) out of 5 stars The Most Thought-provoking Book I've read in Years Oct. 30 2009
By Eros Faust - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It would be tempting to think that just by experimenting with literary style, and using only questions to write an entire book, would be gimmicky and the effect of the gimmick would wear off. It doesn't. Powell has packed so many thoughts into his interrogatories that each question stimulates you to high quality thought.

I recommend it.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x99f0c030) out of 5 stars Do you often harken back to the "good old days"? Feb. 16 2010
By MWA - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Do you like spending time reflecting about your childhood? Are your childhood memories good or bad? Even if you don't remember your childhood as being happy,do you still feel you learned or gained something from it? Do you read a wide variety of books on different subjects? Have you had rich and varied life experiences? Do you like thinking about things? Does internal dialog mean anything to you?
Then jump on in-this is the book you have been waiting for: they are few and far between.

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