Some forms, which have been put aside, are coming back into vogue.
This doesn’t surprise me, because such forms always break established literary molds (often using narrative and side-stepping the label of “post-modern”) They are paradoxically intriguing and entertaining, while waking the reader up from conventional dreams, often perpetuated by narrative literature where whatever happens theoretically could happen. The could happen literature is wonderful, from Jane Austen to Lorrie Moore, to Don Chaon, to Ann Patchett to thousands of others.
However, this is a time when people have been forced wake up from cherished dreams and even cherished faith in society. It's often at these times that surrealism surfaces. (As is clear from the many European writers--including Bruno Schulz who wrote A Street of Crocodiles and was hailed as the new Kafka before he was murdered by the Gestapo.) And many of Marquez's books--as much as there characters accept the supernatural in a blase, delightful way and dreams are a part of the waking world--were veiled (and not so veiled) criticism of dictatorships.
This form is different from Speculative Fiction or Fantasy because the reader forgets they are in an imaginary world. (Great examples of Fantay and Speculative Fiction: Harry Potter, Tolkein, Angela Carter, Kelly Link , Unsula LeGuin, Robert Heinlein and Phillip K. Dick.)
Speculative Fiction has been in vogue for a while. But the forms that are beginning to surface are surrealism and magic realism. Flash fiction often lends itself to these forms. And the prose poem--work that looks like prose but depends on transformation of imagery, rather than anything happening to the characters--has long been looked on as a form of radical writing.
Attention to these forms is evidenced by various writers coming back unnder the radar. There will, for example, be a symposium to honor the Russian radical prose poet, Danill Kharms, who wrote under Stalin and died in a psychiatric ward. His work (all short prose poems) is supremely polished, free of obvious alluisions, is filled with concrete imagery and always has a surprise. (In other words it isn't the furious, thinly-veiled allegorical writing of a political-ranterl-turned-writer.) The symposiom will be held on Thursday, October 22nd @ 7PM Space Gallery, 1142 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA. A number of us will be reading from flash fiction at the symposiom.
And Donald Barthleme, long dismissed as merely whimsical, is having a posthumous collection published, as well as being the subject of various articles. J.C. Holman just wrote The Hospital for Bad Poets. (To quote Publisher’s Weekly: JC Holman invites the reader into ordinary homes and heads before dropping sly twists of the surreal to examine contemporary culture….) And I just ordered a book online, alled A Jelly Horse by Matthew Simmons. If the reviewer is right. (Jim Ruleand in the online blog called The Believe) it takes risks, similar to the ones described in Holman's book.
For the sake of blog-brevity, I'm dividing this into three parts. Part Ii will talk about some of the differences between surrealism and magic realism. Even thought the two forms are often conflated--the profound difference exist!
Please read on: You may be surprised to learn that one of these form sis close to the way you work. Or perhaps a way you've wanted to work and didn't think was viable. It is.
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