A Year in Reading: Rick Moody

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The Interrogative Mood: A Novel? By Padgett Powell: Well, yes, as the subtitle inquires, is it really a novel? Or is it a prose-poem? Or is it a work of non-fiction written by deranged, and eccentric genius somewhere out in the deep woods of the South, while slapping at mosquitoes and lamenting, generally, a life lived on the outside? Or is The Interrogative Mood some kind of experiment? Or is it all of the above? Who gives a shit? Is not the more important question whether The Interrogative Mood pleases or displeases? Do you imagine he will next write a volume of answers to the questions?

Would you like to know what else I know about Padgett Powell? Isn’t it the case that he once lectured me about the superiority of Lynyrd Skynyrd (when compared to all other bands from the South), indicating that he had seen them perform with the classic line-up, before the airplane accident, and did he or did he not also fall into something remarkably like air guitar in the middle of this disquisition? Is it not, by now, obvious that American fiction is withering, like some container of Chinese takeout left in a lower drawer of the fridge to grow new and more colorful types of mold, and that anything that takes us to a new place is urgently necessary? And can I just say that this new place, the place to which Powell transports us in The Interrogative Mood, not only thrills with its originality, but also moves us, with its odd blend of melancholy and high comedy? What could be better?

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