Project Anxiety?

Over the last few years, I’ve heard a lot of folks speak both wearily and warily of “project books.”  Teachers, students and general readers express skepticism that a book with an overarching premise could adhere to the notion of “natural” or “organic” genesis that we somehow expect from books of poetry.  Certainly, we don’t want to have to slog through a book whose moves seem predetermined.  But isn’t Leaves of Grass a project book (the radical notions of composite subjectivity and inclusiveness; the songlike organization; the desire to provide the voice of a nation, in each socioeconomic category)?  It seems just as “natural’ to me that we (humans, readers, writers, whatever) seek out systems in order to confirm our subjective experiences of the world.  A bee builds in hexagons because he sees in hexagons.  Your thoughts?  What do you consider a “project book,” and which have a prominent place on your bookshelf?

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One thought on “Project Anxiety?

  1. Needless to say,I am initially struck dumb upon finding and reading your work.it seems to have snuck up on me sitting here quietly , alone in ME looking upon the lake.
    As a single comment it strikes me that children’s books are book projects. Designed for a specific audience to provoke a specific response and above all to delight the audience.
    What say you? Ad

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