Occasionally I’ll be reading a book and I’ll come across something that just knocks my socks off, because it’s profound or I can’t get it out of my head, or I’m angry about it or I haven’t come to a conclusion about it yet and need to think about it some more. Sometimes it’s just that it strikes me particularly funny. This is from Padgett Powell’s The Interrogative Mood, which purports to be a novel¹ made up entirely of questions:
If you were part of a couple living in a three-story Victorian house with a bad paint job outside and a shabby interior, to the extent that some of your rooms were lit by bare lightbulbs on swinging cords effecting heavy glare on the beadboard walls, wouldn’t you consider it an appropriate diversion for the two of you to play Norman Bates and his mother at least sometimes?
I may not be able to quote this ten years from now but I bet I will on occasion remember the general sentiment, the specificity that makes you think that the author is driving towards a conclusion you really can’t imagine, and then you get there and it absolutely is that and it’s even more off-the-wall than could have been predicted.
I’ve been having a lot of trouble with insomnia lately, often manifesting as waking up at 1am and being unable to fall back asleep for hours (or even, on one memorable night, at all). So maybe it was the 1:30-in-the-morning-and-reading-punchy effect, but dang, that question just zinged me.
¹I don’t know how much I’m inclined to agree with this classification, yet, but I suppose I’m only half-way through this admittedly fairly short work. Not even sure I can recommend it. There have been other good moments, but I haven’t been able to pick out anything that feels quite like narrative yet.