Does writing exist without form? Is there such a thing as literature if we are unable to contain our words between a designed architecture? While an author must, to some extent, follow these pre-determined designations, what is to say that one cannot utilize form as a function of their literature?
This is what Steinberg does exceptionally in her collection of short stories, Spectacle. Spectacle understands the nature of a work – that it must hold a form of some sort, as all things must. However, Steinberg does not view form as a purely physical constraint. Rather, she utilizes form as a function – as an essential part of her story telling.
It is impossible to argue that Steinberg’s punctuation, and variance in sentence structure and paragraph formation, does not affect how the story is told – and thus how the story is perceived. In her essays, “On Craft” and “What Happened to Experimental Writing,” for example, Steinberg numbers her discussions. This in itself bends the ideas of essay – an essay is supposed to be in strict paragraph form – an introduction and thesis, the evidence, and a conclusion. But, what are these numbers, then – they ruin everything. And that is Steinberg’s real idea.
There can never be form without function. Even in the most banal collections of writing, the form serves a purpose – to orient the reader and organize thought. Steinberg just takes this a step further and says, “my form is function” – the two no longer stand next to one another, but rather mesh and meld.