Wednesday, March 05, 2014

About Style

Today's "literary" fiction is ostensibly all about style instead of substance-- but what kind of style? The mass of workshop fiction being produced gives us monostyle. It all looks and sounds the same-- due no doubt to the homogenizing nature of the workshop process, and the stale influence of the stodgy house New Yorker style. (This holds true, incidentally, to the approved reviewed writers in New York, most of whom came out of MFA programs.)

Absent are writers who take chances-- writers aren't allowed to take chances. And so, there's no melodrama, color, rants-- no over-the-top EMOTION that could energize the art. (The kind of work I tried to promote when I was running the Underground Literary Alliance.)

To use an analogy from the movie world, look at the flicks James Dean made with Elia Kazan and Nicholas Ray, "East of Eden" and "Rebel Without a Cause." They're hyperemotional, melodramatic, utterly stylized. Today the films and acting styles no doubt appear dated-- but at the time they were blows against conformity. They engaged the public and enlivened the art.

Are there young writers-- who should be hyperemotional, not robots!-- who can do the same for the literary art? It would mean breaking the rules. It wouldn't be allowed.

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