The Novel is My Lottery

Today I was having a discussion about stuff, stressful stuff, and I remarked that the Butcher buys a lottery ticket every week, just for the chance to dream about winning. And there’s a way in which writing is like that for me. It is my dream of winning.

I still remember that it was the Corporate Shill who was taking a class on experimental fiction and she would come back and tell me all about these strange books with these strange conceits and each one sounded more marvelous and strange than the next. This is a book about you and how you go to the store and buy a book only to find out that the book isn’t complete, so you go back to the bookstore and get a different copy, hopefully one that is not defective, and it’s a completely different story, and one that still doesn’t have an ending. Or there is a book of sonnets written in French and each line can be swapped out with any other of the lines at that same row in any of the other poems. Or there’s a book that comes loose in a box and you can read it straight through or you can read it in the order the author says which jumps you all over the book or you can just read it in whatever order you want. There is a garden of forking paths.

Once you know that’s what literature can do, how can you not try your own strange thing, you know?

And yet, I’m not sure that strange things win the lottery. Is a row of sevens really as likely to win as any other combination of numbers? It seems like probably not, but if playing all sevens is your thing, how can you then stop yourself?

I don’t know if this is self-doubt or existential angst, really. I go down both paths.

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