When is a novel, not a novel? I would give you the answer but I think you’ll gauge that yourself very shortly. An Interrogative Mood is a novel, or is it? Is it a book with characters? Are you the character in the book? Is Padgett, the author, the character? Why am I asking you so many questions? Because that’s what this book is a series of questions.
An Interrogative Mood is not a nonfiction book, but it isn’t really classed as fiction either. From the opening page right up to the final page, numbering 164, you will read nothing but questions. One could ask many questions of the author as to why he even penned such a title, but ignoring the why, let’s look at the how. How does it make you feel?
Some could say that the novel is simply a work of philosophy, written to make you question life and existence, but it’s more than that. It’s a book that asks you if you would rather wear a combination of pink and black or orange and red, it’s a book that asks if you’ve ever seen a similarity between a mouth surrounded by a beard and a vagina. More than that, Padgett squeezes questions of seeming importance between what could be seen as mindless rambling.
Questions about what colours you would prefer to where or things that look like vaginas are reasonably forgettable, in the grand scheme of things, particularly when they are the bread in a sandwich that makes you think. But the filling of said sandwich is what truly matters, these are questions that cause you to stop and think about your life. I’ll admit, I paused and answered that I would prefer to where pink and black, given the choice but the moment was brief. But that filling, when Powell asks if I’ve ever watched someone, or something, die before my eyes, then I really paused.
Suddenly I wasn’t debating whether I would care to be a harbourmaster, or whether I admired a pine tree from afar, I was thinking about watching a member of my family die before my eyes. The book, whether novel or not, created opinions within me and, more importantly, emotions. I found myself answering questions I’ve never pondered. Read An Interrogative Mood is akin to someone asking you 20 questions and demanding you answer without thinking, your true self appears, whether you like it or not.
It’s an interesting read, to say the least. In fact it’s a book I’d recommend to more people than some of my favourite works of fiction. Why? Because it’s a book that will take you a day to finish and one that will leave you with a range of feelings and emotions that thousands of novels struggle to reveal. Of course, it’s an utterly bizarre book and towards the end of the book it can become a little trying, particularly when the author repeats several questions. Whether this is meant to hint at something grand that my mind couldn’t fathom is up for debate, but despite this, it’s a strong book.
Reading it is an experience. Go in with an open mind, read through the strange questions and get to the route of it all. Yes there are moments of madness as Padgett shouts his own opinions, but I would feel that’s allowed in such a piece of work. It’s not like anything else out there and perhaps should be read, just to say you have. Was it worthwhile? Do you have the time? Do you enjoy the surreal and bizarre? Perhaps you enjoy answering questions? Do you want to go on a journey?