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From: "Kevin J. Maroney" <kmaroney@ungames.com>
Subject: (whorl) Puzzles (was: another topic)
Date: Mon, 12 Mar 2001 14:44:35 

At 08:41 AM 3/12/01 -0800, Dan'l wrote:
>Perhaps that was precisely the purpose? Not suggesting that 
>Wolfe is writing for/at this list (though I can think of at 
>least one case of an extraordinarily talented musician doing 
>the analogous thing, writing a song directed obliquely at an 
>online fan group); but that Wolfe deliberately might write a
>Rorschach blot of a book, intentionally setting it up so that
>what you find in it depends even more than usual on what you
>bring to it.

I was just discussing this with a friend on Friday. One might posit that
there is a genre of "puzzling fiction"--fiction where much or all of the
meaning is hidden behind misdirections, puns, jokes, allusions, omissions,
and so forth. One of the obvious masters of this, and one of Wolfe's clear
antecedents, is Nabokov. 

It is clear that Wolfe enjoys writing in this genre. In fact, he writes in
this genre even more consistently than he writes in speculative fiction;
_Peace_ and _Pandora, by Holly Hollander_ are both "puzzle fiction" but are
at most only loosely speculative fiction. 

I don't know why Wolfe is so fond of puzzle fiction. Based on some of his
writings and speeches about his work, I know that he thinks that there is a
particular joy in piecing together meaning for themselves. I also know that
he enjoys writing for an audience which enjoys that aspect of his work. 

I know that I enjoy puzzling through his books. I also know that there are
puzzles in them that I haven't solved. 

Unlike the person who started this thread, I think that all of the
*important* aspects of the narrative of both _The Book of the Long Sun_ and
_The Book of the Short Sun_ are both very clear. There are many puzzles
which remain and which can be chewed for a long time, but the main
narrative is much more straightforward in both of these works than in, say,
_The Book of the New Sun_.

   Kevin Maroney | Unplugged Games 
   kmaroney@ungames.com | (212) 777-1190

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