Are you happy? Do we need galoshes? Are bluebirds perfect? Do you know the distinctions, empirical or theoretical, between moss and lichen? Is it clear to you why I am asking you all these questions? Should I go away? Leave you alone? Should I bother but myself with the interrogative mood?
The acclaimed writer Padgett Powell is fascinated by what it feels like to walk through everyday life, to hear the swing and snap of American talk, to be both electrified and overwhelmed by the mad cacophony—the “muchness”—of America. The Interrogative Mood is Powell’s playful and profound response, a bebop solo of a book in which every sentence is a question.
Perhaps only Powell—a writer who was once touted as the best of his generation by Saul Bellow and “among the top five writers of fiction in the country” by Barry Hannah—could pull off such a remarkable stylistic feat. Is it a novel? Whatever it is, The Interrogative Mood is one of the most audacious literary high-wire acts since Nicholson Baker’s The Mezzanine. Powell’s unnamed narrator forces us to consider our core beliefs, our most cherished memories, our views on life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. In fiction as in life, there may be no easy answers—but The Interrogative Mood is an exuberant book that leaves the reader feeling a little more alive.