Sunday, April 23, 2006

Wonder is too often missing in contemporary fiction. One gets a great deal of wow (not to mention heaps of uck) but not a lot of wonder. Perhaps it's time, already, for this moment that doesn't seem to know whether it wants to be whimsical (oh gee!) or ironic (eyebrow cocked and ready) to move elsewhere.

I'm reading Ticknor by Sheila Heti -- it's rather like Thomas Bernhard does historical novel fascinatingly, movingly. It's a really intriguing gesture, a not quite done before sort of thing (I've been finding these lately), that seems to have little interest in the trick of itself -- using an obsessive, paranoid, relentless (but gentler, more mournful, not as fierce a) voice to inhabitat the mind of an invidual doing his thinking more than a hundred years ago -- too busy, as it is, with achieving itself as a convincing work of fiction.

Often, when I think of wonder, I think of the great variety/frequency of words used to describe it in Medieval courtly romances -- jaws dropping and eyes bursting open left and right. This is not the sort of wonder I feel while I'm reading Ticknor -- it's something quieter, subtler, something that involves duration. But it is wonder. And that's a grand thing.


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