What is literary fiction? It is not genre fiction. Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall is a historical novel. Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go was shortlisted for the Arthur C Clarke Award, the leading British prize for science fiction. Yet you only have to think about these two examples to see how they escape their genres. Mantel's novel revisits the favourite stamping ground of historical fiction – Henry VIII and his wives – in order to rethink what it might be to see events filtered through the consciousness of a person from a distant age. Ishiguro takes a dystopian hypothesis – human clones being bred for their organs – and then declines to put in place any of the sci-fi framework that would allow us to understand how this could be. Indeed, the whole interest of his story is in the limits placed upon its narrator. These are both "literary" novels because they ask us to attend to the manner of their telling. And, despite their narrative demands, they have both found hundreds of thousands of readers willing to do so.Well doublefuck me, aren't those two of my desert island five living novelists?
The mega-Borders a mile from home is closing shop and EVERYTHING MUST GO! so we're doing a raid later today or Sunday morning. I'm not in a hurry: I'm certain the novels on the fiction wall I'd be interested to snag at 50% off will be there tomorrow, such a "literary fiction" snob am I. Still, I'm trying to crawl out of Littell's The Kindly Ones. At the suggestion of Jim I tried Canetti's Auto da Fe, and - apologies Jim - it's fuckawful: I've given it three tries, made it thirty whole pages, and no - so I won't be buying that, but any and all suggestions are welcome, including golden oldies.
Blessed serendipity, look what I had picked off my bookshelf half-an-hour before friend drip suggested I read it. And you have every right to suggest: I asked!
- Fascism by any other name.
- The revolution isn't over.
- A curious argument.
- The problem with the ideology of Capitalism.
- Shame? Shame is Mobamafucker's silence.
- Footnote to the preceeding.
- Wisconsin buzzkill.
- The weekend, brought to you by unions. Paid vacations, maternal leave, workman's comp, etc, too.
- Mobamafucker would rather fight Culture Wars.
- Oink, the future.
- Wacky Keyes.
- You don't say.
- No one could have predicted.
- Heh, yesterday's post has drawn hits from Belgrade.
- Screen life.
- Reminding me I need learn more about Eigner.
- I might buy this at Borders.
- Frank Bridge was born 132 years ago today.
GHAZAL OF THE BETTER-UNBEGUN
A book is a suicide postponed.
Too volatile, am I? too voluble? too much a word-person? I blame the soup: I'm a primordially stirred person. Two pronouns and a vehicle was Icarus with wings. The apparatus of his selves made an ab- surd person. The sound I make is sympathy's: sad dogs are tied afar. But howling I become an ever more un- heard person. I need a hundred more of you to make a likelihood. The mirror's not convincing-- that at-best in- ferred person. As time's revealing gets revolting, I start looking out. Look in and what you see is one unholy blurred person. The only cure for birth one doesn't love to contemplate. Better to be an unsung song, an unoc- curred person. McHugh, you'll be the death of me -- each self and second studied! Addressing you like this, I'm halfway to the third person.