Dennis Cooper on “Normal” Novels

The new issue of The Paris Review (198/Fall 2011) is outstanding, to say the least—Roberto Bolaño, a fantastic essay on translation by Lydia Davis, Geoff Dyer on Tarkovsky, an interview with Nicholson Baker—but one of the major highlights is the interview with Dennis Cooper. From the interview—

Interviewer: What are normal novels?

Cooper: Too much story, too much realism, too much overfamiliarity in general. They bought into the traditional, majority approach in opinion among American writers and arbiters of literature that life is most effectively depicted in fiction via one streamlined, time-proven method—the narrative arc, the sympathetic character, the snowballing plot, et cetera—and when I read a work like that, all I saw were the writers’ slight variations on a central formula that seemed reductive and arbitrary and bogus.

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