Instead of Climaxing, Novels Should ‘Meander Spiral Explode’

I’m reading this one now. . . .

Chicago Review of Books

When you think of a
novel’s narrative arc, what immediately comes to mind? Perhaps a dusty old memory
from high school English class, of the teacher drawing an inverted ‘V’ on the
chalkboard to show the exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and
then the resolution of a book?

As Jane Alison writes in her latest book, Meander Spiral Explode: “Bit masculo-sexual, no?”

Alison’s book is like
a cold shower to ward off the standard narrative arc and rewire our mental
circuitry to see the patterns of nature in the structure of novels. As she
quotes from Sukenick, “Instead of reproducing the form of previous fiction, the
form of the novel should seek to approximate the shape of our experience.”

Alison has an
enthusiastic and wandering mind, which starts with a book club in Germany where
she taught herself German just so she could read W.G. Sebald’s The Emigrants

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