Notes from New Sodom

... rantings, ravings and ramblings of strange fiction writer, THE.... Sodomite Hal Duncan!!

Monday, July 03, 2006

SF SIte Review...

In which Jakob Schmidt gets right to the heart of the book:

It may seem self-contradictory to claim that Vellum is stripped down and that it is repetitive at the same time. Wouldn't the former feature imply that the story is narrated with as little words as necessary? That's only true if you assume that a story can be reduced to this kind of core. Actually, this assumption is a central concept of the novel -- metaphorically, it appears as the concept of the "one language," in which signified and signifier collapse into each other, and the "ultimate story," the fate into which the characters are bound. But the style of Vellum not only captures this idea mimetically in its often onomatopoetic language, it also opposes it: repetition illustrates the constant failure of getting to the core, the constitutive lack of language. It makes us feel that each sentence slightly misses the mark, that is must be slightly altered -- again and again. This is not a mark of failure but of the possibility of change in face of the totalitarian force of story.


Blogger David Moles said...

That boy there, he's awful casual with words like "totalitarian", ain't he?

Hal, question that hadn't finished percolating through my mind at WisCon, since it was only a week or so after I read Vellum:

How, in Vellum do you reconcile "people die" with people always being alive, somewhere else, somewhen else, as somebody else?

— Feel free to tell me to ask again after I've read Ink; or to make a long-ass top-level post, either way. :)

12:51 pm  
Blogger Cheryl said...

I think I'm interested by this whole "totalitarian force of story" idea. On the one hand you can see it as talking about the traditional structure of novels (people complaining about Vellum because the plot doesn't make sense). On the other hand there's the aspect of the book that concerns the struggle to avoid the narrative of the world always following the lines of archetypal myths. Am I being horribly pompous here?

2:39 pm  
Blogger Hal Duncan said...

Am I being horribly pompous here?

Not at all. Certainly nowhere near as pompous as I'm about to be in responding to David's question (i.e. look out; long-ass top-level post coming).

Re "totalitarian": I think it's the right word. Because, yes, the struggle is against "story" on a lot of levels, seen as a binding, essentialising system.

Now... big post on anti-Platonic metaphysics in VELLUM coming up...

7:37 pm  

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