Padgett Powell’s novel—er, “novel?”—The Interrogative Mood (HarperCollins 2010) takes the formal structure of Donald Barthelme’s short story “Concerning the Bodyguard,” in which every sentence is a question, and pushes it to the point of of brilliant, thrilling absurdity. Here Powell abandons the usual features of storytelling, like character and plot, and spends pages and pages (and then pages and more pages) asking question after question: “What is your favorite fabric? Have you ever raised a wild baby bird? Which of your parents would you say was the more selfish?” At once philosophical, digressive, and real, real funny, The Interrogative Mood will frustrate some readers and leave others asking themselves “If you could trade out and be, say, Godzilla, wouldn’t you jump on it, dear?”
Padgett Powell, The Interrogative Mood: A Novel? Published by Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins (2010). 192 pages.