One of the best things I've read recently is John Lanchester's introduction to BS Johnson's novel Christie Malry's Own Double-Entry. The essay opens:
"Many people, entirely reasonably, regard the novel as an exhausted form, one whose heroic period at the center of human culture has passed. Others choose to dedicate all their creative efforts to the novel, as if it were still an all-important medium. It is difficult to belong simultaneously to both groups, but BS Johnson did, and the resultant tension fuelled the extraordinary decade of creativity he enjoyed between the publication of his first novel… and his death by suicide"
Johnson is quoted as saying "If a writer's chief interest is in telling stories… then the best place to do it now is in television, which is technically better equipped and will reach more people than a novel can today". In a world where adaptation to a film seems to be the crowning glory of a novel that seems pretty obvious. After all, how many stories have been successfully adapted from film to book?
Johnson is interesting as someone who acknowledged the limits of the novel. I've been finding the idea of a straightforward novel increasingly difficult. The linear novel, written in a single unified voice, is obsolete. Life is a series of intersecting texts, with fiction simply part of a stream of information, alongside messages from friends, adverts and 'news'. House of Leaves is far closer to my experience than Wuthering Heights, as great a book and an achievement as the latter is. The world needs books whose form reflects it.If you want to follow what I'm up to, sign up to my mailing list