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.
Powell's new book is a remarkable collection of philosophical inquiries, stimulating either/ors and good-faith attempts to measure the gap between where we are as a species and where we belong…a fearless meditation on the sublime and the trivial, a hydra-headed reflection of life as it is experienced and of thought as it is felt. With echoes of the Tao Te Ching, "My Funny Valentine," Pascal's Pensees, Green Eggs and Ham, Annie Dillard's This Is the Life and countless other quests for conviction that secretly understand and depend on the futility of such quests, it is wondrous strange…The Interrogative Mood demands to be read deliberately, for it is courageous and entertaining and interested in the essential mysteries of self and society. Powell, with his outsize romanticism and urge only to connect, shows that it is through questions rather than answers that truth can, however fleetingly, be glimpsed.