Check out my interview with the incredible Lance Olsen at Rain Taxi: Review of Books. Here’s an excerpt:
JM: When I think of collage in the visual arts or in music, I think more of overlap and mixture, where the edges of the disparate elements are blurred. In Head in Flames, as well as in some of the print novels you mention above, the disparate elements are usually placed, as you’ve described, in juxtaposition, rather than overlap and mixture. In other words, unless the typography itself is dealt with visually—that is, overlapped, inserted, interwoven—then the collage element isn’t necessarily experienced in a visual way. So then, what are the “different strata” you see of literary collage? What are the particular ways that Head in Flames uses collage? And how does the reader of your novel (and works like it) put it all together?
LO: My sense is the notion of collage can be used literally or it can be used metaphorically in fiction composition. That is, collage fiction can be deeply, actively appropriative in nature, cutting up previous texts to create new ones at the level of phrase, or even word, as in, say, the work of Eliot (think of The Waste Land) and William Burroughs (think of his cut-up technique). This impulse stays very close to the original French root of the word: coller, i.e., to paste, to glue. But it can also be used simply as a structuring principle—not only as a juxtapositional combination of ready-mades, then, but of just-mades, as in, say, the work of Milorad Pavic or Julio Cortázar.