I have been watching Art of America on BBC4. In the last programme (I saw) the lovely Andrew Graham-Dixon was exploring the work of abstract painters and it occurred to me, where were the abstract movements in literature?

Perhaps poetry is closer to visual art than prose. I can see how some poems could be said to be part of an abstract vision in that they attempt to capture the essence of a thing or a moment, to grasp what's inside rather than what's perceived from the outside.

But novels appear to be less conducive to such experimentation. Apart from a few notable exceptions, we still write novels in the same way as we did when the 'first' ones took this country by storm in the 1700s. As a writer I've struggled to conceive of how to create a narrative which is only about essence, and as a reader I wonder whether I would accept such abstraction. Would I not miss the comfort of being taken by the hand through a story?