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Expression of my experience of Haiti seemed to require a burst of wholistic insight, simultaneously combining inconveniently large masses of information in a way that seemed almost impossible to achieve in a text. I finally hit on the method of small modular units each of which would be more or less autonomous while also serving a structural function in a larger design. I'd used this technique before in fiction, albeit with much larger basic units. In the case of the Haitian narrative, I was also influenced by suggestions of Bill Buford of the New Yorker, and by the example of William Vollmann, who has used the same modular design to great good effect in both his fiction and his nonfiction.

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