Friday, November 12, 2010

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that, in the area of short fiction, writers aren’t giving the general public what it wants. None of us is—myself included. The New Yorker is merely the most visible part of the problem.

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There are many things writers need to do. One of them is to lose the infatuation with postmodernism a la David Foster Wallace. This is a dead end. It’s solipsism, a retreat into the mind. What the journal n+1 calls Neuron Lit or such is in fact Moron Lit. It goes nowhere. It’s a retreat away from the audience. Or, to claim as other writers do, that Art is Nonsense is itself nonsense.

The postmodern escape from sense and reality came as a result of the traumas of World War II, when the world collapsed into madness. It was a philosophy and aesthetic of a particular time. That period has ended. It’s time to move on. Some teach that “There is no reality.” Why, then, Professor, are you teaching the class, and charging an exorbitant amount to do so?

Reality is a given. The world makes sense. In the morning you don’t put your shoes on your head instead of your feet, or walk UP the stairs when you want to go DOWN to the street.

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At www.americanpoplit.blogspot.com I’m posting experiments at new short fiction. I’m presenting worked-out aesthetic ideas. As with any experimenting, most attempts are bound to be failures. That doesn’t mean you don’t keep trying. The ULA itself was ultimately a failure, in that it didn’t achieve the impossible goals it set for itself. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t worthwhile. It was completely worthwhile. It was an attempt to inject new ideas and writing into the literary body. It was an honest try to revive the literary patient. We know that doing the same-old same-old doesn’t work. The many “Best” or New Yorker story collections are proof. All they signify is the extent of the illness.

Do YOU want to attempt new pop literary art? You need the will to make the attempt.

2 comments:

Shelley said...

Lord, 50 years ago the best critic of all time, Randall Jarrell, was saying that "modern" couldn't go any further in lit.

And that was before post-.

King said...

But postmodernism didn't go anywhere. It stayed in the academy-- literature in effect returning to the monastery, overseen by scholastic monks, not traveling among the people.