26 August 2007

Horrifying Slapstick

I can’t control or predict how readers will respond to or understand what I’ve written, but I gather that some readers have found the violence in Jamestown quite horrifying, as I often did while writing it, while others have been inclined to read it as slapstick, as I often did while writing it. I think there are many passages in which characters are deeply disturbed by the violence done to and by themselves, while there are many others in which characters respond glibly and blithely to violence they’ve witnessed or perpetrated. Why write (or intend to write) violence that sometimes feels real and sometimes fake and stylized? I think as a way of representing both the experience of violence and the representation of violence: violence as violence and violence as spectacle. To put it another way, I meant to write a novel in which there is a lot of fluidity among various degrees of abstraction: sometimes it feels real, sometimes it feels fake, and I hope often both, for as the poet William Matthews used to say, "It’s always both."

--Matthew Sharpe
interviewed at Failbetter.com