Monday, August 08, 2005

The truth will out?

The NY Times contemplates the demise of interest in literary fiction and the rise of interest in literary non-fiction. In a time of chaos people want expertise the author argues. I've heard this before, and have been mulling over this question for some time. Certainly the desire for facts seems sane and timely, but the reasons I've heard for this are what troubles me. Also, the conflation of literary and experimental fiction. They are not the same thing, are they? I mean experimental means "experimenting" no? What mainstream fiction is both experimental and literary?
Furthermore, decrying the opacity of experimental prose!? This is startling. If anything the commodification and wholesale manufacturing of "so-called" literary fiction is problematic. The kind of sweeping publication of a kind of highly polished, overly-workshopped prose that reads like extended narrative poems.
Experimental fiction seeks to make the reader aware of the act of reading. It seeks to offer a transformative, not sedating experience does it not?
While non-fiction may be on the rise, it won't necessarily make us think beyond our comfort zones. For that we need innovators. We need experimentors. We need writing that makes us aware of the very act of our thinking and processing as it is happening. That, it seems to me, is what makes writing art.

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