The two novels I always come back to are Kenneth Burke’s Towards A Better Life and Gordon Lish’s Dear Mr. Capote Each is a protracted monologue of aggressive artificiality. I see them as baroque efforts to crucify the human voice, force it to burst forth in a climatic, ecstatic cry. And I always think of them together, because they had a similar effect on me: I was scared shitless. In each case, I finished the book, put it down and thought, I have got to get out of the house now and just move around if I want to keep my sanity. The effect was huge, drug-like and very physical. That’s a pretty startling quality in a book, the power to kick you out of the house and chase your ass down the block.
“This is the twelfth start of the letter I am sending. Here is the reason it’s the twelfth start. The reason is to try out voices! I want the right one. Granted they sound like the right one for a while. But is a while long enough?”