Monday, February 20, 2012
Reading Journal: 8x10, by Michael Turner (2009)
Certain variations of the postmodern novel will never be my friend. In this one, every chapter (vignette, is more like it, as very few are more than a page or two) is introduced by an 8x10 grid in which the sector you're currently in is highlighted. The action moves down the y-axis, through eight squares, ten times over (as it follows the x-axis), though some sectors are altogether skipped, for no evident reason. My interpretation of the device was that each horizontal row was a different character's point of view, and that if I were to read the book again, one row at a time, I would get something resembling eight plots, which possibly fit together to form a larger plot; however, were there a larger plot, I'm confident I would have detected it in the end, and my opinion of a book is that, though it may get richer on second read, you shouldn't have to read it more than once. Turner's refusal to use character names (which, if they had introduced each point of view, would have helped me understand who I was seeing) completely muddies this story, leaving it "open" - or as I'd rather call it, confusing, or messy, even. What the book is, then, is little more than a series of vignettes, some of them vaguely related to some war or other going on in the background. I'm glad it was only 160 pages, because there was literally nothing here for me. It got great reviews, though; maybe I'm the stupid one.