"BAD PAPER: The Bursting of the Fiction Bubble"

read it here.

August 2, 2010


from an interview with Steven Moore, author of The Novel: An Alternative History, at 3 Quarks Daily:

What about the earliest fictions you include in the book fascinate you the most?

The daring of them. This goes back to your first question about alternative fiction. These early fictions, especially Egyptian and Assyrian stuff, they're almost like avant-garde magical realist novels. They're more like García Marquez than John Updike, say. The freedom I saw there really interests me. This is the same freedom avant-garde writers adopt. As soon as literature started becoming written, critics came up with rules for poetry and drama. Anyone who was writing tales or longer fictions were pretty much free to do whatever they wanted. There was this real spirit of experimentalism, to use a modern term, in that early fiction, that fit in perfectly with my whole thesis: the avant-garde novel is not a modern aberration, but goes all the way back to the beginning. If anything, the conventional novel is the aberration. That's a very late development.

Could you say that we have it backwards, that what we see as normal is one current of many in terms of the way the novel has gone? We've focused so much on one subset, that has seemed to us to be the only thing?

Exactly. Without question, it's the most popular form of fiction, the conventional novel, the beginning, middle, end, and all that. It's the easiest to read, has the largest appeal, blah, blah, blah. But when you step back and look at the whole stream from ancient Egypt to what's being written now, it's just a tributary that goes off to the side. I wouldn't push it too hard, but the experimental novel is actually the main river. The conventional novel is a popular sidetrack.

No comments: