Sunday, October 11, 2009

Shut up. Mr. Vonnegut is speaking.

"I guarantee you that no modern story scheme, even plotlessness, will give a reader genuine satisfaction, unless one of those old fashioned plots is smuggled in there somewhere. I don't praise plots as accurate representations of life, but as ways to keep the reader reading." Kurt Vonnegut

Because if the reader stops reading, you can be as beautiful and elegant and edgy and experimental as you want, but you may as well be singing in the shower.

I'm not down on experimental writing, however. Don't get me wrong. Even if you think I'm a sell-out, I'm all for experimentation. How else can you blow something up? I want things to get blown up -- or, moreover, blown open.

But Mr. Vonnegut is only talking about smuggling here. The plot can be a dime bag of pot. He's not asking for commercialism. He's not asking you to do the reader's dishes and take out his trash and rub his feet with peppermint foot lotion. He's just saying give the reader a dime bag -- somewhere. Smuggle in a little plotty love.

I'll further this by saying I don't need plot necessarily, not even a dime bag. But I do need a mystery. That mystery doesn't need to be plot-based. It can be aesthetic, stylistic, imagistic, a tension that between the writer and the page -- as long as it doesn't exclude me. The mystery can be -- what will be the final image? How's the writer going to pull this off? The mystery can be when and how is this going to reveal itself as a moment of actual being, when I'm forced to see the world anew.

You've got to offer me, the reader, small gifts. If there is no plot then I need other bonbons to keep me reading. Carrot at the nose. Lead me and then occasionally reward me.

Oh, but don't get me wrong. I respect how pretty you sound when you sing alone in the shower... Oh, the echo ... I just don't want to have to listen to the soundtrack.
I'll take your word for it.