Padgett Powell’s latest novel, his first book since 1998, is unlike his others—in fact, it unlike any other novel, period. Not that you’ll be seeing many periods in “The Interrogative Mood: A Novel?” Why, you ask? Because every sentence in this slim book is a question. Robert Fulford, in a review for The National Post, says, “The Interrogative Mood reads like a novel after a bomb has dispersed its pages, sending them looping through the air, falling back on the page at random.” Questions range from trivial to profound. The New Yorker says, “There’s not a whisper of a plot, but the torrent of queries is hypnotic, and the cumulative effect is of a latter-day Scheherazade, desperately staving off the final answer.” Writing for The New York Times, Josh Emmons calls the questions posed by “The Interrogative Mood” “funny, sad, informative, rhetorical, prurient, maudlin, political and absurd”” and calls the book itself “a captivating and often glorious reading experience”:
Put another way, Powell’s new book is a remarkable collection of philosophical inquiries, stimulating either/ors and good-faith attempts to measure the gap between where we are as a species and where we belong.