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Posts tagged "collage"
Lewis Menand has written about writing and collage:
The visual artist can deal with almost every kind of material, even sound, but the writer deals with only one kind of material: sentences. The solution, therefore, [is] to treat sentences as though they were found objects.
This was certainly true of the writer William Maxwell, who talked about his method of identifying good sentences and cutting and pasting them together in his Paris Review interview:
I’ve gotten to the point where I seem to recognize a good sentence when I’ve written it on the typewriter. Often it’s surrounded by junk. So I’m extremely careful. If a good sentence occurs in an otherwise boring paragraph, I cut it out, rubber-cement it to a sheet of typewriter paper, and put it in a folder. It’s just like catching a fish in a creek. I pull out a sentence and slip a line through the gills and put it on a chain and am very careful not to mislay it. Sometimes I try that sentence in ten different places until finally it finds the place where it will stay—where the surrounding sentences attach themselves to it and it becomes part of them. In the end what I write is almost entirely made up of those sentences, which is why what I write now is so short.
From Barbara Burkhardt’s William Maxwell: A Literary Life:
The [So Long, See You Tomorrow] manuscripts, like delicately composed collages, consist of page after page of this cut-and-paste work. Here and there the effects of time have loosened or dislodged sentences from their original places; glue has become dry and paper brittle. Talismans of a meticulous yet tender approach to writing, the manuscripts underscore both the with which Maxwell composed and the extensive narrative weaving needed to deal with fact, fiction, and memory on a single plane.