We forgot to post this article from a little while back. Greg Hunter, over at Big Other, lists a number of ways of reading David B.’s Incidents in the Night. It’s a great list, here are some of our favorites:
Adventure comic. Artist David B.’s Incidents in the Night unveils a conspiracy that involves the Napoleonic Wars, an ancient god of nothingness, and the enigmatic founder of an anthology that shares the book’s name. Our lead and narrator, meanwhile, shares his name with David B. The in-text David learns of the conspiracy as we do, and a narrative through-line like this—the pursuit of answers—is probably pretty essential to the project’s not going off the rails. David B.’s ambition seems to grow geometrically as the book advances, but Incidents is fundamentally an adventure story, and its strengths and weaknesses wrap around that structure like the snakes of the caduceus.
Ghost story. Broadly speaking. Incidents contemplates literary immortality, with Travers attempting to extend his life through literary endeavors, in ways both figurative and not. While researching Travers, David discovers that the man “jumped into a letter like into a lake and took its form, thus escaping the angel of death.” (At moments like this, Incidents nods to the Kabbala and its notions of “fusion with the letter” while also keeping one foot in pulp territory.) In the same way that David’s search for information makes research into something resembling a hero’s journey, Travers’s aim as a writer/publisher is to (literally) prolong his stay among the living. (Travers being a sinister lunatic, obviously.)
Matryoshka doll. In the sense that it’s a book called Incidents in the Night about a series of books called Incidents in the Night, and also because the Incidentsanthology in turn aggregates tall tales and false-sounding field reports. But the book goes further than this, making readers detectives—as any decent mystery story does—and imposing its reality on ours too.
See other ways of reading here.