Is it wrong to be irritated by literature like Beloved and Kiss of the Spider Woman that uses stream-of-consciousness type writing to convey a character’s inner life? It just comes off as pretentious and self-indulgent. “Young man’s conversation with the spinster, relating the battle, his injury and eventual nervous collapse, impossibliity of returning to the front, proposal to rent the house for himself…” (KOTSW, Puig, 105). A novel like Kiss of the Spider woman, that tries so hard and obviously to transcend certain conventions like that of the narrator, just defeats the purpose of writing by utilizing such obscure, impressionistic filler. Fiction writing is capable of conveying things clearly. If the author doesn’t want to utilize a narrator, that’s fine, but narration itself is inevitable, whether or not there is a “narrator.” The psychological grit of a character may be necessary to the story, but an author who cannot convey this grit in clear, good English should be writing poetry instead.

I can’t think of any examples off the top of my head who succeed where stream-of-consciousness authors fail, but I want to say Philip K. Dick, Flaubert, and Virginia Woolf (whose coherent style of SOC in “Orlando” I really like). What do you think?

Advertisements