Kevin Powers on faith in finely tuned language

Thursday, July 31, 2014

A few days ago I wrote of my urgent need, this summer, for urgent books. I'm inside of one of those right now—Kevin Powers' war novel, The Yellow Birds, which earns both its literary accolades and its bestseller status. In an interview with Jonathan Ruppin included in the paperback edition, Powers says this about language:
You're also a poet and this comes across in the deeply lyrical quality of your prose. Was this intended in counterpoint to the rawness of the dialogue?

I intended it as a counterpoint not just to the rawness of the dialogue, but also to the rawness of the experience. In that respect it is more point than counterpoint. In trying to demonstrate Bartle's mental state, I felt very strongly that the language would have to be prominent. Language is, in its essence, a set of noises and signs that represent what is happening inside our heads. If I have faith that those noises and signs can be received and understood by another person, then I should also have faith that they can be made more finely tuned.


Serena said...

I am so glad that you have found time to read this one.

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