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“Novels the Length of Nosebleeds?”

I ‘m always on the look out for ideas that help me imagine what the “brittle” in Brittle Paper means. I found a statement made by Sara Levine, a writer from Illinois.  Her short story, “The Following Fifteen Things, A Love Story,” is the quirkiest love story  I ever read. Anyway the quote I found could easily be one of the prettiest statements ever made about short writings:

“I’m a prose writer chiefly of short forms such as the essay, the story, the prose poem, the aphorism, and the character. I am a big fan of a certain kind of littleness: essays the size of handkerchiefs, novels the length of nosebleeds, philosophies reduced to paragraphs, conclusions detached from tedious arguments, epics scribbled on the back of a hand, tall tales, but only in bare feet.”

— Read full profile interview at She Writes.

Novels the length of nosebleeds? Seriously, pause and think about that for a minute. Did Nietzsche not say that the only way to write is to write with blood? And did you know that Nietzsche’s so-called blood writings were aphorisms? Let’s ignore the fact that Nietzsche”s sense of what an aphorism means is deeply philosophical, complicated, and far from the dictionary definition of aphorisms. Yet there is a link between writing, blood as a figure of violence, and brevity that I think is worth holding on to.  I really don’t know what to make of it. It all just seems so fascinating. Right at this moment, I am calling to mind Ben Okri‘s stokus and poetic essays:

A stoku is an amalgam of short story and haiku. It is story as it inclines toward a flash of a moment, insight, vision or paradox.

“A Note on Form” from the book Tales of Freedom

On the “poetic essay:”

“Poetic essay… should be an essay with the brevity and spring of poetry.

Read full interview at Granta

 

On Facebook the other day, people were making fun of Okri’s stokus, saying it was just another one of his La La philosophies. Nevertheless, what I think we can take away from Okri, and Levine as well, is the desire to invent new forms and new ways of giving shape to ideas.

 

 

 

Photo Credit:

Levine: The Parlor

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

One Response to ““Novels the Length of Nosebleeds?”” Subscribe

  1. Chibuzor 2011/06/16 at 17:21 #

    . . . Which i think is right im every sense-your conclusions!

    Just the other day, I was talking via fb chat with the reknown art critic, Sir. Ikhide, on the actual existence of prose poetry, and he told me amongst other things that he does believe in the existence of prose poetry as a form of art, whilst, many a great number of scholar would be quick to stub out the prose poetry as an art of expression which has never taken form.

    And, pa Ikh did a great job of ‘jazzy blues’ – a poem which takes ön the form of prose poetry.

    I salute!

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