Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

Some Thoughts on Generosity: Maybe It Is Not Quite So New

mindyhuskins's picture

"If I were to write the chapters of my book in a continuous form, each time exhausting the chosen subject, they would certainly be more complete, more comprehensive, of a nobler character. But I fear lengthy texts, and you, reader, are worthy and capable of grasping the whole by means of a few random details, and knowing the end by learning the beginning"  - Jahiz, The Book of Animals

This is from a 9th century book and feels like something Powers could say now. Is this writing style not quite so new? This speaks to me, this sums up everything I imagine Generosity and Powers to be telling us. Not to eschew the ideas of the Library of Babel, of mental health, of the possibilities within us, or anything else we may get out of the novel. But this, I feel like this is what Powers is telling us all along. One of my classmates said she felt like Powers' odd style of writing was like him spoon-feeding her, there was no room for her own imagination in the story. But I think this story shows us how much we can do with just a "few random details", I feel that this style is a more creative approach than that found in a classic novel. Why not address the reader? Why not let us try to figure out what is going on? Why must we be given everything by the author? Let us see a few snippets and do with them what we will.


alexandrakg's picture

Re: Some Thoughts...

 I definitely agree with you. While I really enjoy descriptive novels, I also like when the author gives the reader a little space for imagination. After all, the reason why I at least read a book is to use my own mind, or else I would just watch a movie or see a play. I did not feel spoon fed by Powers at all. He described the general feeling he wanted the setting to have, but let the reader fill in the rest. He acknowledged the reader's part in shaping the novel, and that certain parts of the story were beyond his control as the author. I feel like we were part of an experiment, with Powers testing the limits of the novel.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.
2 + 3 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.