First of all, I have to apologize for starting a new post here. There are plenty of threads of discussion going on below, so one should feel free to jump in anywhere.
Second, thanks to everyone who helped get the conversation started on 10:01. Your pal here has been sluggish, intellectually and otherwise, this week, owing mostly to a drinking fiasco Monday night. (I suspect that punks slipped some sort of emetic into my PBR, but that's neither here nor there.) Suffice to say, I ran afoul of the Gods of Drink and spent a long night on the bathroom tile, wishing I were dead.
And what, pray tell, does this have to do with 10:01? Well, as I was facedown on the tile, I noticed that one of the cracked squares that I walk over every day was cracked in an interesting way. It looks exactly like the P wave in an ECG waveform, as a matter of fact. (Remember, I'm dying at this point, or it feels like it.) I'd never made that connection before, and might not have had I not been sick and laid out on the tiles (as Robert Plant sez).
This is a sloppy, perhaps silly, metaphor for experimental fiction, but it could be instructive.
What I like about experimental books--if you'd like to avoid labels, let's go with the more prosaic books that try something a little different--is that they force me (generally in a more kidney- and liver-safe manner) to get out of my comfortable reading habits and approach things from a different vector.
Is Olsen after something a little more than quotidian details, like interesting cracks in the tile? I think so. (See again, this interview, which goes in depth into Olsen's motivations.) Even without considering the differences between the print and hypertext versions of 10:01--which Olsen is very interested in and which I have scarcely considered--I think one could go on for quite a while about the philosophical questions raised in 10:01. It got me thinking, at least. Then again, I see that the book didn't strike most of the group that way, for various reasons.
Yet even on the surface level I liked 10:01 for its subtle comedy and bizarre leaps of the imagination--more about that here. And I suppose I don't have anything profound to say about the chasm between the likes and did-not-likes as regards this book; like a lotta things, it might just come down to a matter of taste. If your taste runs to the strange and the slightly whimsical and the perhaps philosophical, 10:01's a book to pick up.
For part two, here's a response I wrote to a question of Ed's earlier in the week. Generally, I'm interested in how 10:01 wraps up, as represented in the person of Milo, the theater's assistant manager, but there are also questions of time and other forms of representation involved.
Ed: To what extent does a novel depicting a specific time frame have validity? And if such a novel does have validity, how does Olsen succeed and/or fail?
Rake: There are countless ways to play with time in narrative, and most of them will seem quote unquote valid in the right hands. There is the question of real time--reel time?--of course, and that seems like a reasonable line of inquiry given the book we're discussing.
First, and perhaps apropos of nothing, I can think of films and television shows that run in real time, but I'm not sure if such a thing is possible (or even desirable) in a novel. Is there a book somewhere that has a description of, say, making a sandwich where the description lasts as long as the sandwich building would? (There's a pretty detailed bit of sandwich making in Beckett's "Dante and the Lobster," for example, but then again a lot of Beckett reads like that--maybe he's closer to a real-time prose writer than most. Maybe the roughly mid-20th-century French novel--Robbe-Grillet--is an even better example?)
(For what it's worth, Olsen sez this:
"Novels can mine psychology in a way that films can't. Films are all about surface and speed. Novels are all about depth and taking one's time. What other art form allows you to live inside another person's mind—a theater of other people's minds—for days or even weeks on end? So part of the fun for me in writing 10:01 was also using one genre (novel) to explore the limits of another (film).")
I don't think Olsen's trying to exactly replicate the experience of the 10 minutes and one second before the movie begins, but I'm interested in hearing your thoughts on the matter, Ed. (And Matthew.) For me, the chronological conceit of the book sort of fell away as I was reading, but I started thinking about it again as I neared the end of the book, where things begin to unravel and there seems to unfold a cataclysmic event that disrupts the novel's progression. And again on the last few pages, there seems--again, seems--with the character of the theater's assistant manager, Milo, to be a question raised about the people and events with which we've just been presented (i.e., Was it real? Did any time pass whatsoever?)
I have loaned my copy of the book out, and I'm flying on my imperfect memory here, but I believe there's a bit somewhere about how film is constructed--missing frames, etc.--to trick the eye and mind into believing something that is, physically, on the celluloid as it were, not the case. (Perhaps someone would be nice enough to dig this up?) Is this a clue of sorts?
I wonder if anyone else in the group was left with the same question(s). And even if we assume that everything is happening as described, is there something in the timeline structure I'm missing?
As always, feedback is much appreciated.