Wednesday, October 17, 2012

my dreams for big book shelves

Blake Butler wrote an interesting piece for Vice Magazine, which is not ordinarily interesting, about modern literary realism and how sick of it he is. I agree with most of it, and I was particularly pleased by his raging against "the obvious and mindlessly repeated unanswerable question that seems to run through all safe, traditional narrative fiction: what is it to be human?"

When I read that, I was reminded of what Steve Albini said about early punk rock: it wasn't about writing the ultimate love song or capturing the human experience. Punk songs about sniffing glue and etc. were taking small, probably insignificant, but still comprehensible moments and making them something worth celebrating. I think they still commented, in some way, on the human experience, but not through the usual middle class coming-of-age channels; they didn't try to cover everything in a big, pretty sweep.

AD Jameson's response to Blake's article is a good read, too - I still say Blake's making better and more needed points about what literature needs, but it's important to understand that realism is a broad playing field that can be accessed (sometimes very effectively) by experimental work.

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