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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Review by Zoë Sadokierski of The Raw Shark Texts

Here is a review by Zoë Sadokierski of Steven Hall's The Raw Shark Texts. Of particular interest to me is this passage addressing criticism of Hall's use of images and typo/graphic experiments as 'gimmicks':

Hall addresses this criticism as a kind of literary snobbishness: "these storytelling techniques are still considered 'experimental' or even worse, 'gimmicky' in some book circles; whereas in art you can sit in a gallery with a dead lobster on your head for a week without fear of being accused of either." It’s a complaint shared by Jonathan Safran Foer, whose novel Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close also features a flip-book passage. He concurs that the use of images in novels is “still considered to be a gimmick or some expression of the failure of language”. In a review for the Village Voice Safran Foer states: "It's a shame that people consider the use of images in a novel to be experimental or brave. No one would say that the use of type in a painting is experimental or brave. Literature has been more protective of its borders than any other art form – too protective. Jay-Z samples from Annie – one of the least likely combinations imaginable – and it changes music. What if novelists [or historians, I might add] were as willing to borrow?"

Both Pistols! Treason! Murder! and Five Wounds attempt to answer this question.

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