Thursday, January 18, 2007

Incoherent Conversation, in Writing

I've always wondered if someone had written a book in which dialog or narration was presented in a naturalistic way. Anyone who has ever read a deposition or the transcript of an impromptu speech knows how incoherent people really are when they speak.

I have found such a book, though I've only crawled through the first 30 of 700 pages. It is William Gaddis's JR. Every scene is a complicated and rambling conversation between three or more people, with sub-groups carrying on sub-conversations, characters ignoring others, time lapses in between responses to past statements. It is confusing, but also hilarious and interesting.

Incidentally, the plot involves an 11-year old who manages to build a huge paper-goods concern out of an endowment of Army surplus items using only a pay phone. It may or may not be an ultra-liberal critique of free-market capitalism.

1 comment:

Andy Hall said...

The movie Schizopolis takes this one step further, having scenes in which characters talk completely in meaningless words and phrases which the viewer never understands. The last third of the movie replays scenes from earlier in the movie, but from a different character's perspective, while the other characters' former lines are dubbed over in foreign languages.