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Om nødvendigheden af stilistisk allergi

Fra et interview med den fænomenale amerikanske prosaforfatter Padgett Powell (hvis seneste “roman” The Interrogative Mood, fra 2009 består af lutter spørgsmål, se min omtale af den på min private blog her) ved en vis Jacob White i magasinet/tidsskriftet/fanzinet New York Tyrant VOL. 3 NO., som en dansk digter bosiddende i New York har været så sød at sende til mig som en julehilsen:

JW: Is it true that you have retired from teaching to raise chickens?

PP: I still purport to teach, and by dint of my record in chickens so far it is even fair to say I am a better teacher than chicken man. I have bought so far 35 chickens and not raised one to egg-laying age, about 24 weeks. Raising writers I have many who have laid some very good eggs.

JW: [kortprosaforfatter Donald] Barthelme [også anbefalet LB] often mentioned [Samuel] Beckett as a “problem” for him as a writer, due to the power of Beckett’s style, which Barthelme felt he had to free himself from, og somehow get around. Of course Barthelme himself was a powerful stylist, and I wonder, what you, as a student of his, might say to writers who find your own style similarly powerful and therefore similarly worrisome.

PP: It’s the worrisome I would adress. I read as a child certain writers with worry ([William] Faulkner) and without worry but with great frequency (or volume) ([Norman] Mailer. I got to where I read an author until I had the score: his tricks, his obsessions, his game. As I matured I got better at this and when I had the score I got impatient more quickly than I earlier had and repuditated them more thoroughly. Thus what I think I am saying is I think loving a guy is all right because at a point it will affect an allergy and you will reject the affection (and any inclination to mimic overtly) and keep whatever was truly useful to you (which ideally will be some covert thing). All these cases are different: with Faulkner I thought if I read another book (beyond about five) I would actually succumb to him as I think you can argue Cormac M[cCarthy] did, so I stopped, and then I developed the allergy, and today I can’t read him without impatience at the hokeyness of it. Mailer I read as a teenager wanting to be Mailer; easy to quit that. Tennessee Williams somewhat the same, but since he lost his mind and kept writing you can actually keep reading him and liking him as he goes crazy and his tricks consume him. Similar case is [Ernest] Hemingway: he nuts up so bad at the end that you can see all over how and why he was good when he was good. Walker Percy got consumed by his tricks very steadily and precitably, and dully. [Flannery] O’Connot was a constant except for the immature thesis work.
The only trouble I suffered in reading to steal was Barthelme, whom I came to very late and whom I did not (have not) read that much of. There was the matter of his personal influence on me [Barthelme var Powells skrivelærer LB] that complicated the allergy-making and I became some sort of an illegitmate son, I’m afraid. But this did not come from reading and liking the reading or not liking it.
All this boils down to this: read, like it, reread it, worship it, mimic it, believe in it, live by it, whatever you want to do, and then you will quit all that and write something you are not impatient with until you begin to develop a vision of your own tricks and develop an allergy to yourself, which is another chapter.
End of forgoing (O’Brien, Flann, [At Swim] Two-Birds [også anbefalet LB]).

JW: The mullet [multen] is widely regarded as a trash fish, yet you have declared mullet the best eating fish since catfish [havkat]. By what preparation is the fish best redeemed.

PP: Low whites like to call the mullet a trash fish. It is best fried or smoked. Sometimes it has a dirt taste, sometimes a clean taste: I don’t know how to defeat the dirt taste if you run into it but I suspect there are people who do know. You see more white people fishing for them now than you once did. “The economy.”

JW: The recipe?

PP: Just split your mullet from the back, leaving the belly intact, open it up, clean it, lay it on the Lusty Monk Burn In Hell chipotle mustard, and smoke that fish.

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Forside og billedkunst i Hvedekorn 1 2017: Johanne Østervang. Hvedekorn er støttet af Statens Kunstfond hvedekorn.dk af One Million Monkeys