The Unknown: The Orange Line.
  Subject: Don Quixote and the Raiders of the Lost Narrative Art
Date: Saturday, 04 May 1996, 17:49:57
From: Scott Rettberg
To: William K. Gillespie


Thanks a bundle for sending me your stories (Chapters?). Are they two parts of a larger thing? Are they two separate things with characters moving over from one to the other? I like them, if I’m not exactly sure what they are.

Don Quixote seems to me to be the kind of approach that you’ve been trying to hit (Can you hit an approach) for a long time (maybe)—you work in a lot of theory, structural experimentation, and verbal gymnastics, but you do so without losing a through-line of a story grounded in time and space. I like it a lot, though the ending kind of fizzles for me personally—even as a chapter ending, I guess, if it is a chapter. I like the intertextual/metafiction approach best when you enact the theory rather than invoke it—maybe you want to focus more intensely on creating art as a reaction to fewer thinkers—get more in depth in dramatizing each particular theory—when the characters simply name the thinker, and don’t enact (somehow, either in their actions, in their dialogue, or in the structure of the narrative itself) the thought, I start to care less about what they’re saying.

In the second piece, you’ve got some hilarious comedy going and some fucking brilliant structural maneuvers. You’ve also got some stuff that doesn’t work so well (for me) or seems experimental for the sake of being experimental. I don’t give a shit about a word puzzle of Xanadu and Cisoux, for instance, and the footnotes on the sarassinized Don Quixote don’t really seem to relate to the numbered sections that follow—not that they necessarily need to, but you do sort of raise some expectations. My favorite sections of this piece are the columnized dialogues—an intricate but understandable way of portraying reality, especially when the (here’s a term for it, maybe) phenomenological categories are distinct and clear like her thoughts her words his words his thoughts, whatever. You could, of course (as usual) be a little kinder to the reader by letting her know when a switch in categories or characters is about to occur, but on the whole it’s a cool trick, and a great way of portraying the simultaneity of thought, word, and action.

Great stuff—is it your thesis-in-progress—a new post-Borges post-Acker Quixote? Anyway, sorry if you didn’t want me to “workshop” it—I do like it.



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The Unknown at Spineless Books.