Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Nine experimental books that break narrative norms

Alana Saab is a literary writer and screenwriter. She holds a master of fine arts in fiction from The New School, a master’s degree in psychology from Columbia University, and her bachelor’s from New York University in the phenomenology of storytelling. She lives in New York with her partner.

Please Stop Trying to Leave Me is her first novel.

At Electric Lit Saab tagged "nine literary works [that] show how talented writers break narrative norms in service to something greater." One title on the list:
No One Is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood

A non-daunting book that gives you room to breathe around the anguish of loss, while simultaneously not taking its hands off your neck.

Words are containers, but what happens when traditional narrative cannot properly hold the amount of grief one feels? In this novel, an unnamed narrator famous for saying something ridiculous on “the portal,” a placeholder for any social media platform you want to imagine, narrates her day-to-day influencer life. Half-way through the book, her sister gives birth to a daughter with Proteus syndrome. The narrator spends time with the baby who cannot see or hear and who will, they all know, die soon.

This story knocks you off your feet by placing a mirror up to our society, juxtaposing our most shallow aspects with the deepest grief one can imagine, watching someone completely innocent be dealt the worst hand in the game. But Patricia Lockwood does this without lecturing us on how “bad” we are. Lockwood leaves ample white space on the page which allows for real-time reflection and processing: of grief, of unspeakable pain, and of our own shame.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue