Monday, July 28, 2008

"The Return of British Avant Garde Fiction"

Once again, thanks to Chris Higgs, avant-garde expert, for pointing the way. He found and linked to this article by Lee Rourke in The Guardian about, well, you see the title of this post.

I'm fascinated and excited to see that Maurice Blanchot and Georges Bataille figure into the inspiration for this new wave of innovative British fiction. Blanchot blows my mind (I'm staggering my way through The Writing of the Disaster) and Bataille figures into my recent work in Phoebe and a little bit in a new thing forthcoming in Action Yes.

I'm certainly not claiming anything about myself except that I am interested to see that others are finding inspiration from these sources for their fiction, too.

Also linked by Chris: this interesting blog post by Johannes Göransson about "the avant-garde vs. the grotesque" with mention of Aase Berg's poetry and David Lynch's work.


Michael Kimball said...

Thanks for the link, Josh. Nice piece, but he does seem to be missing the fact that there are a bunch of UK publishers who have been publishing experimental fiction/difficult literary fiction/whatever you want to call it. Of course, that does point out the fact that somebody who would be predisposed to experimental fiction didn't know it was going on all around him.

Josh Maday said...

Yeah, I thought it was interesting, too. Which UK publishers of innovative fiction are you thinking of? You make a good point, though, that it's not like experimental/innovative/etc fiction just stopped and has sprung from the earth again.

The term "experimental" really seems to get reaction from people: usually getting euphoric chemicals pumping or bile churning. You know, the usual where experimental is equated with aimlessness/shock/weirdness/opacity for its own sake. Sure, that goes on in some cases, but that is not even close to describing all innovative writing. (I'm not trying to convince you of anything here, Michael; I'm mostly just following my train of thought, which I should probably just do in a new post).

After reading Johannes Göransson's blog lately, here seems to be a huge rift (at least in academia) between "the traditional" and "the innovative/experimental", whether it's poetry or fiction. I guess I already knew that, but still. Mark Halliday's recent 21-page deconstruction of Joshua Clover's The Totality for Kids in the new issue of Pleiades seems to have aggravated things a little more. The issue of aesthetic "teams" in the hothouse of academia certainly does not affect me, but it's still very interesting to see people talking about it more. It seems ridiculous to want to throw out experimental writing because some of it is crap; the same goes for traditional forms/subjects, too. But there is a lot of good writing coming from both "teams" too. I don't know. I'm definitely not speaking out of knowledge here. But that's what I think at this moment.