The Novel Lives...

Speaking writer to writer...

Only one canvas is big enough to suggest the sweep of human life. Everything but the novel is either too limited or too pure. The short story has such a tight focus that it can only hint at the history that brings one character on stage. Poetry distills the essence of life, serves it up in crystal, and even when it doesn't sacrifice the ambiguities which flavor raw experience, their variety can only be hinted. The edges of the canvas are cut off. Poetry asks you to understand a pearl without tasting the oyster. A novel, on the other hand, encompasses the shell and describes the scars on the hand that shucks it, the hunger that drives the hand to pick up the knife.

So how can the novel be dead? What can replace it? A CD full of talking pictures and trite songs? An hour or two on the internet, browsing the meaningless babble of weak minds seeking only to confirm the prejudices of the moment?




Copyright 1995, Harlen Campbell
Last updated Nov 6, 1995.