"BAD PAPER: The Bursting of the Fiction Bubble"

read it here.

July 3, 2009

And James Wood Shall Lead Them

China Mieville on the "LitFic Praetorians":


iii) LitFic Praetorians

Every new mess mainstream politics and culture gets us into should be its last, but never understimate its staying power.  It's an ironclad, and the burgeoning econopocalypse, despite causing a little wobble here and there, is not yet putting paid to it.  For the novel, this will be illustrated by a declaration of war by the lions of good taste against those sceptical of its claims to investigate the contours of The Human Condition (tm), or some such.

Unlike much previous soi disant Literary Fiction, the LitFic Praetorians will understand i) that they are a genre among many, ii) that their esteemed position is under attack.  And they will decide to take the fight to the enemy.

Accordingly, this movement will continue to privilege those aspects of fiction that have come, for some, to be the sine qua non of literature itself -- a celebration of 'interiority' and a particular propagandist conception of 'character'; a prose that claims to be 'spare' and 'precise'; a striving for a horizon of metaphor to perfectly express some 'human truth' in terms of a more concrete thing (crockery, paint, a particular animal, a meteorological condition, etc, preferably referred to in the book's title); a dynamic of artful recognition; and so on. However, unlike its less self-conscious predecessors, it will do so overtly, courageously taking the battle to exteriority, militancy, estrangement and alienation, and aggressively foregrounding its concerns on such seemingly unfriendly literary turf.

Thus, for example, the redemptive power of art will be affirmed in the bloody imperial rubble of Iraq; musings on the melancholy of age and the rediscovery of life-affirmation in the arms of somewhat younger women will unfold before a backdrop of polemical dream-logic; and poignant stories of family betrayal and infidelity among academics will be set during alien invasions.

Influences include all winners of the Booker prize, particularly Ian McEwan, particularly his book -- claimed by the school as its foundational text -- Saturday.

What to say: 'Great literature transcends everyday concerns.'

What not to say: '"Literary Fiction" is a marketing category.



From Mieville's guest-blog post at Omnivoracious, "Neither a Contract nor a Promise:  Five Movements to Watch Out For," which he offers as "a few modest proposals . . . to fulfil the moment's cultural needs."

Via Kick Him, Honey