Siri Hustvedt Reads The Blazing World

By on Thursday, November 6th, 2014 at 4:43 pm

Siri Hustvedt reads from her novel The Blazing World at McNally Jackson Books in Manhattan

Novelist and scholar Siri Hustvedt celebrated the release of the paperback edition of her novel The Blazing World at McNally Jackson Books. The novel unfolds as a series of documents that slowly reveal the puzzle of the plot.

The form echoes the feeling of the novel, Hustvedt explained, saying she wanted readers to experience the book as much as read it. She organized the book in what she describes rhythms. There is no way, she admits, that a collection of various texts would exist in this manner in the real world, but it is necessary to create narrative.

Although the novel is a collection of different types of documents, each its own independent scene part of the larger book. Hustvedt says she wrote all of it in order. The one exception is the beginning chapter, an editor’s note, written at the. She has re-read the book many times over from the beginning, reading earlier portions before writing the latter portions in part to make sure the book continues to be entertaining. She says it was important to ensure the book was not boring and that there were not any extra characters sneaking into the narrative.

On some level, it’s a novel that feels like multiple personality disorder because of the variety of perspectives created by the documents. The goal was to create what Hustvedt terms “zones of ambiguity” for the reader to experience.

Nevertheless, she calls writing the book “a hell of a lot of fun.”

Ultimately the beginning document, the one titled “Editor’s Note,” frames all the documents, making it the fundamental component of the narrative. It organizes and sets the tone of the book.

Hustvedt says her main influence in writing is Søren Kierkegaard, a Danish philosopher and writer. “I’m quite obsessed with Kierkegaard,” she says. She has been reading his texts since the age of fifteen, and saying “its the most beautiful literary Danish.”

Siri Hustvedt
Wednesday, November 5, 2014
McNally Jackson Books

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