Thursday, 19 January 2012

Why Write Novels at All: A Very Good Question

As I burrow deeper in River Music, I begin to wonder if it's worth anything at all. That's why coming across Garth Risk Hallberg's essay/review in the Sunday New York Times has provoked a lot of reflection. "To be less alone" sums up what he reports a handful of rising American literary stars as saying during a literary conclave on the Isle of Capri in 2006 Le Converzioni. The solitude in question is that of the writer as well as the reader.

If you add in all the recent novels in which books have saved people, from Mr. Pip to The Elegance of the Hedgehog, the importance of a fictional world to frequently isolated readers becomes clear. Hallberg's essay ends by wondering if this enough, however.

I have no idea. All I know that at the moment I am beating my head against a wall in a story where music is very important, where it is a life raft for at least one solitary young woman. Music cannot be reduced to words, which makes trying to explain what she feels all that more difficult.

Aaargh! Back to work.

1 comment:

Muzition said...

I can understand the impossibility of describing music with words. I remember attending a performance of a Mahler symphony and trying to write about it in my diary afterwards, and words were just so insufficient.

I write program notes for a local youth orchestra, and I'm always having to describe what's going on in the music. It's easier for some music pieces than others.