There’s something about Faulkner that reminds me of Saramago. I’d forgotten all about Faulkner’s style until I recently reread this book. It made me remember that Saramago’s not particularly original. And in terms of plot, Saramago’s completely strighforward, whereas Faulkner makes you work considerably harder. Faulkner tinkers with one’s perception of time. We understand the plot as we fit the broken moments together.

I read an interesting article a few weeks ago about the novel structure as compared with symphony structure. The idea is that after Ulysses, novels just decided to slump into pop lit: novels abandon any attempt at newness: they tell a story in genre for a marketable audience. But symphonic structure has coninued to develop. I think Amis’ quotation apropose here:

This leads to the question: what’s the deal-y-o with the novel anyway? Maybe I’m crazy, but I think novels are really, really important: they arose concomitantly with modern society. So, if we don’t know where the novel’s going, we also don’t know where we’re going. Like, are we postmodern, or post-postmodern, or just good-old modern. We can see this confusion in the novel’s structure.

Maybe novels are on a spectrum and we can only be crazy to a certain point. After Ulysses, we’ve reached a far extreme. That is, things like postmodernity–being insane, confusing or whatever–reaches an extreme and we fall back to pop lit: genre specific, emphasis on plot, nothing too weird.

One of my favorite playwrights says that a good play will do two things: it will say something about the play structure itself and about being a human being. You have to have both things to have a good play. This might be a great rule for what makes a good novel, too: does it comment on the novel form and does it tell us something about ourselves?