HIS IS PROBABLY a mistake, and you should stop reading here. A young novelist without a published novel decides to write on Zadie Smith’s NW and “Two Paths for the Novel” in hopes of getting some answers to her own writing? Save yourself. Turn back now. Though, if you keep reading I can promise you no discussion of process (at least, none of my own). I am writing this because I am bored (read: struggling) with my own novel but also more than that with the very idea of writing novels, and because I’m jealous too, not of Zadie Smith (this won’t – at least, I don’t think it will – be a take down of her) but of artists, you know, visual artists, and how they get to think about form. Why is that question of form so rare in books? This is the reason I appreciated Two Paths, her essay which, to summarize very, very briefly, laid out the case for the novel (as an institution) between what she calls “lyrical realism” (you know, the novel with lots of description and interiority) vs. something that might be called “modernist” or “postmodernist.” Those are what she terms the “avant-garde” path.