The principle of the novels [of Jean Echenoz] is that everything happens but nothing goes on. While in the detective story every detail eventually finds its place in the solution, here on the contrary we are given too many pieces of the puzzle, so that we feel the uneasiness (a pun obviously encouraged by the French title, L’Equipée malaise) of a story both overcrowded and vacuous. The characters are frantically busy yet strangely inactive. Paul, sent on a secret mission to the island of Greenwich, does not seem to have any clear duty to perform. […]
Loose ends become the very principle of the narration.
~ Dominique Jullien
Hawthorn & Child is a novel, but when one of its chapters, ‘Goo Story’, appeared in the New Yorker, it was said to be part of a collection of stories. Is the distinction important?
No, not really – in one way. It’s a book. I handed it over without really thinking about what it was. I call it a novel because I feel that it needs everything that’s in it and that the pieces – which can indeed be read separately, which can even I suppose be read in any order – are diminished by being taken away from each other. But it wouldn’t do really to call it a collection of stories. That doesn’t cover it at all. That would be misleading. So in that sense, the distinction does matter a great deal. People have talked about it as an anti-novel, and I accept that. Its structure is deliberate. Its fragmentation is deliberate. Its hesitancy about being a novel is deliberate. It doesn’t want to be a novel. But tough. It is.
~ Keith Ridgway @ Totally Dublin,
interviewed by Kevin Breathnach