By putting the onus on the reader to determine which lines are spoken and which not, the quoteless fad feeds the widespread conviction that popular fiction is fun while literature is arduous. Surely what should distinguish literature isn’t that it’s hard but that it’s good. The text should be as easy to process as possible, saving the readers’ effort for exercising imagination and keeping track of the plot.


Explaining why she writes without quotes, British novelist Julie Myerson asserts, “In my experience of the world, there are no marks separating out what I think and what I say, or what other people do.” Yet when the exterior is put on a par with the interior, everything becomes interior. What is conveyed is an insidious solipsism. When thinking, speaking and describing all blend together, the textual tone levels to a drone. The drama seems to be melting.

Missing the Mark, Lionel Shriver

I articulated my inability to understand this feeling of lack of control. Surely we all dealt with and reconciled ourselves to a life many of whose features were out of control. It was part of living in a world full of other people with other interests. I was close to wetting my pants again.

No, that wasn’t it. Such a general feeling of dislocation would not be a problem. The problem was a localised feeling. An intuition that her own personal perceptions and actions and volitions were not under her control.

What did `control` mean?

Who knew.

Was this a religious thing? A deterministic crisis? I had had a friend…

No. Determinism would be fine if she were able to feel that what determined her was something objective, impersonal, that she were just a ting part of a large mechanism. If she didn’t feel as though she were being used.


Yes. As if what she did and said and perceived and thought were having some sort of… function beyond herself.

Function. Alarm Bells. Dr. Jay, after all. A plot thing.

The Broom of the System (ch. 5, /a/), David Foster Wallace