Steven Moore's history of the novel opens with a defense of difficult literature. The type of books he praises, books with stylized prose and experimental plot structures, are unquestionably books I want to read. The pleasure I feel when reading a love story told via a museum catalog of artifacts of a failed relationship, or a chronicle of academic failure inferred only through letters of recommendation, reminds me of the feeling I got as a child, reading the key to a dungeon and assembling a narrative of the place in my mind as I went. And really, several of the tricks Moore mentions sound like they'd make good organizing principles for dungeons.
"Give me fat novels stuffed with learning and rare words, lashed with purple prose and black humor; novels patterned after myths, the Tarot, the Stations of the Cross, a chessboard, a dictionary, an almanac, the genetic code, a game of golf, a night at the movies; novels with unusual layouts, paginated backward, or with sentences running off the edges, or printed in different colors, a novel on yellow paper, a wordless novel in woodcuts, a novel of first chapters, a novel in the form of an anthology, Internet postings, or an auction catalog; huge novels that occupy a single day, slim novels that cover a lifetime; novels with footnotes, appendices, bibliographies, star charts, fold-out maps, or with a reading comprehension test or Q&A supplement at the end; novels peppered with songs, poems, lists, excommunications; novels whose chapters can be read in different sequences, or that have 150 possible endings; novels that are all dialogue, all footnotes, all contributors' notes, or one long paragraph; novels that begin and end midsentence, novels in fragments, novels with stories within stories; towers of babble, slang, shoptalk, technical terms, sweet nothings; give me many-layered novels that erect a great wall of words for protection against the demons of delusion and irrationality loose in the world."