Duras writes: “Published literature represents only one percent of what is written in the world. It seems worthwhile to talk about the rest, an abyss, a black night out of which comes that ‘bizarre thing’, literature, and into which almost all of it disappears again without a trace.” I can imagine the whoop of joy Milutis must have hollered when he read the term Duras uses for this Gehenna of Letters: “virtual literature”. Failure, A Writer’s Life is a peregrination through the unpublishable, the unreadable, the abandoned, the abortive, the illegible and the indecipherable. He takes in both the esoteric (Charles Fort, HP Lovecraft, the brilliant Christian Bök, who has “written” a poem into the genetic code of a virus) and the canonical (Ernest Hemingway, William Carlos Williams, John Ashbery), as well as digressing to cover photography, film, spam, archives and the nature of the digital text more generally. Duras may have imagined her “virtual literature” as a sealed, silent place of the utterly lost; we, nowadays, have her abyss in perpetual, blaring, online Technicolor.
more from Stuart Kelly at The Scotsman here.