– – – In my attempts to consider this book and decide “Just what is going on here?!” I searched the internet for anything Matt Bell has said about it’s creation or writing. I came across this link to an interview with Matt Bell about his writing process, how he spends his day, and I found most importantly in relation to our reading, the suggestion that “I want stories to be the thing, as Johnston says, to have the words and sentences and plot be the experience itself, not a puzzle under which the real experience lies.”
With this in mind, I have become more interested in the interpretation of the book as being “It’s own, singular world” contained within the cover and back, and less as much a writing that describes some series of events told or gleaned later on by readers. And if this is at all possible or “understandable” despite what I have taken as a focus on defying understanding in a nearly Kafkaesque extreme as we read this book, what feelings or emotions are we being repeatedly shown in this book?
The motifs of violence, decay, rot, and other horrors that we are continually bombarded with suggest this is unfriendly, punishing ground that the character(s) have been placed in.
A radical notion struck me. I’m wondering if the constant body-swapping that the husband and the other voices or even “beings” in the world experience suggests that he may not be all-together separate from the wife, never mind being separate from the other “consciousnesses” we encounter. For example, it is “clear” or suggested in certain memories in the deep house that he raped the wife in his desperate bid to have children. Is this mirrored by the squid’s attack upon him, almost in a complete re-living of the event he participated in, however now in an almost karmic sense experiencing it from the other perspective? And if the “point” of this world the characters have been placed in is to continually re-experience the sense of loss of children, abuse, and horror, is this not similar to an at least semi-tainted soul awaiting judgement?
And if this is true, and the book is more akin to being “ONE” as opposed to having many characters in it, then is this a representation of the constant back and forth violence that the conscious mind visits upon the sub-conscious (and vice-verse) in bids to achieve some task or fulfill some wanting?
Are we “experiencing” a garbled, tortured mind that has, in it’s totality, failed to achieve any successful progeny, and therefore repeats itself, rolling over and over through form and memory of failure, pain and helplessness, despite it’s staunch attempts and desire to accomplish that? Perhaps the husband/wife – bear/squid – house/lake – fingerling/foundling and other “elemental” dichotomies that are continually recycled just representations of the conscious/unconscious of a soul stuck in some strange Sheol/Hades/Barzakh, awaiting a final release or redemption?