A Barbarian on a Pillaging Expedition: Interview | Fiction Writers Review
I love the essay form; it’s a way of thinking, a form of thought, just as, say, the aphorism is a form of thought. You don’t have the thought before you write the essay; you might have an inkling, a thread, forethought, a text (like a sermon has a text), but the complete thought doesn’t exist until you have written a coherent, staged, unified essay. Each step in the structure is a discovery, beginning with an accurate description and synopsis of the work you’re writing about; the pay-off, the ending, comes when you reach a poetic and summative moment of clarity that washes back over the whole…
(November 21, 2019)
My new essay collection is just out with Biblioasis (who also published Attack of the Copula Spiders).
Why do we read? What do we cherish in a book? What is the nature of a masterpiece? What do Alice Munro, Albert Camus, and the great Polish experimentalist Witold Gombrowicz have in common? In the tradition of Nabokov, Calvino, and Kundera, Douglas Glover’s new essay collection fuses his long experience as an author with his love of philosophy and his passion for form. Call it a new kind of criticism or an operator’s manual for readers and writers, The Erotics of Restraint extends Glover’s long and deeply personal conversation with great books and their authors. With the same dazzling mix of emotion and idea that characterizes his fiction, he dissects narrative and shows us how and why it works, why we love it, and how that makes us human. Erudite and obsessively detailed, inventive, confessional, and cheeky, these essays offer a brilliant clarity, a respite in an age of doubt.
(August 20, 2019)
3AM:MAGAZINE in the UK just published a brilliant and comprehensive new essay about my work by Bruce Stone. Stone does an especially good job of looking at my stories in the context of some of my nonfiction, including the epigrams I used to write for Global Brief and an essay on experimental writing that will appear shortly in my new book The Erotics of Restraint (Biblioasis, 2019). Here’s a taste of the essay:
Douglas Glover’s fiction deserves rapturous praise, even if the work itself equivocates, disavows its own artistry, bites the hand that reads it, then lapses into silence. His narratives are tortured and tender, incorrigibly funny, laced with pungent details (like smelling salts, they arouse consciousness) and moist with vital fluids. The textual architecture, his special genius, he frets carefully and flays, baring armatures of nested patterns, rigged to ensure his forms are felt. And however wild things get, his prose remains sleek and spare, crystalline even, or maybe just curt—when it’s not frothing, or expatiating, or lexically slumming, or off somewhere clowning around. But touting Glover’s gifts can feel a little like cheerleading for Beckett. He is schooled in the scariest branches of philosophy, rigorously and unrepentantly postmodern, about which bent he doesn’t mince words or pull punches. His fictions seem to pose the grim question, “How bad could it be?”, then proceed, with a nod and a grin, to show us. The nearest art-historical analogue for Glover’s aesthetic might be Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights: surreal and freakish cavorting with apocalyptic overtones (one cadaver-hued nude plucks long-stemmed flowers from another’s rectum), all limned with an eerie clarity of form and line.
(July 29, 2019)
Publication of dg’s new essay book The Erotics of Restraint (Biblioasis, 2019) is imminent. The Walrus has excerpted a trimmed down version of one of the essays on its web site. The essay is called “Building Sentences,” and in turn, it is adapted from a series of four columns that appeared in the National Post a while back. Here’s how it begins:
ENGLISH WAS MY worst subject (next to Health) in high school right through to my second year of university, when I stopped taking it. I’d fallen afoul of the empty-rule syndrome. Don’t use the pronoun I in an essay; don’t begin sentences with but or because; write paragraphs in the topic sentence, body text, conclusion pattern (even if it bores you to death to say the same thing three times); vary sentence structure. The trouble with these rules is that no one told me why any of them would be especially useful.
“Vary sentence structure” was a rule I puzzled over for years. No one explained grammar and syntax to me well enough for me to be able to make useful connections. At first, I thought, Well, I can write long and short sentences, something like Hemingway. Then I practiced emphatic placement of important material (at the beginning or the end of the sentence, I was told) and inversion (writing the sentence backwards). None of this got me anywhere, because I could not join the spirit of a sentence—what emotional and factual impact I intended—with the idea of sentence structure.
(July 15, 2019)
Interview with Douglas Glover, author of THE EROTICS OF RESTRAINT
I’ve written four nonfiction books—Notes Home from a Prodigal Son, The Enamoured Knight, Attack of the Copula Spiders, and now The Erotics of Restraint. They all evolve out of a very early essay “The Novel as a Poem,” which is in Notes Home, where I announced a theoretical approach and a program, which is essentially formalist (or McLuhanite) and what some would call experimental. Form over matter, medium over message in the sense that the way something is written is primary to the meaning it projects. In that essay, I value sign over signified, patterning over verisimilitude (which is really just another pattern), artful elaboration over communication. The program then is to keep reading for form and technique and, of course, writing about it.
(July 10, 2019)
Photographs below were taken by Douglas Glover except for the ones in which he appears, which were taken by Jacob Glover (Nova Scotia beach pictures), Katharine Abbott (father & son photo), and Melissa Fisher (British Columbia beach picture).
“And I thought how Proust teaches us that all love resides
in anticipation and not the beloved,
that love achieved is only on loan,
that we are martyrs to our desires, which are endless.”
Douglas Glover, Savage Love