Beyond the Blurb: On Critics and Criticism. Published by Cow Eye Press




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  • "I offer here no overarching theory about the nature or direction of innovative writing by women writers, although as I do note in several of the essays in the first section, there is a recognizable affinity among numerous current writers for what I am here calling 'fabulation.'" Includes essays on Rikki Ducornet, Aimee Bender, Noy Holland, Helen DeWitt, Eimear McBride, more than a dozen others.
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  • "Although the term has come to identify a general attitude toward traditional intellectual assumptions or, more specifically, discernibly related practices in philosophy, the social sciences, and all of the arts, "postmodern" was originally a critical label attached to an emergent group of American fiction writers perceived to be challenging established literary convention."
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  • In the early to mid 1960s, an iconoclastic mode of American fiction that came to be called "black humor" presaged the larger movement succeeding it that eventually came to be known as postmodernism. This volume looks at the essential features of black humor fiction, with essays on all the major black humorists: Joseph Heller, Kurt Vonnegut, Bruce Jay Friedman, Terry Southern, and more.
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  • Is a work of experimental fiction really an experiment? What was metafiction? Experimental fiction and tradition. New Romancers. Poetic structures. Fiction as performance. Varieties of experimental fiction.
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« Getting the Joke | Main | Textuality »



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A.C. Douglas

Mr. Kotsko is late to the party -- very late.

And the original of that article was written and posted on my prior weblog in July of 2002.



I'll read a long post if it's interesting, and I certainly read your posts, Dan. Like anything else, it all depends on the content or style.

Adam Kotsko

Virtually everyone in my comments disagreed with me, for the record.

Kevin Holtsberry

I think Adam is on to something as I do have a tendency to skip long posts with a promise to come back later but I do that with magazines too.

I think if you have a long post it had better pull the reader in rather quickly. Also, if the subject matter is interesting and the author is intelligent I still think plenty of people will read more than a screen shot..

BTW, I find using RSS feeds and the like helps me to focus more on the few blogs I want to read rather than just random surfing.

Jonathan David Jackson

Dear Dan--

One of the reasons I read your posts is because they are so substantive and meaty. So please keep up the thick, multi-screened writing.

Also, your stories are fascinating inventions: near-techthrillers with marvelous senses of pacing and voice.


David Hadley

I use a feedreader (FeedDemon)using RSS to read blogs and ordinary webpages. One of the things that really annoys me is reading what I presume is the first paragraph of something worth reading, then clicking on it to read more only to find that is all there is of it .

BTW my blog posts seem to always end up approaching essay size rather than a single screenful.


Dan--For the record, I'll scroll down 2 and even 3 screens to read your stuff.

I agree with Adam that there is a tendency to skim, especially if you can see that there is going to be more than one page of text. However, if I do know a blogger and if I do believe that the blogger will have something good to say, then I will make myself read all the way through.

I'm usually glad I did so.

Lastly, for the record, I blogged on this topic a couple months back.


Good writing is good writing. People will read it.

Outer Life

I like the long posts, the ones I print out and savor. I like the short ones too, potato chips for my mind. It's all good.

If a reader is deep in to what you're saying, length isn't an issue. If a reader is just skimming the surface, length is an issue. I doubt most of us will change our style to suit the skimmers.

But the length of a blogger's discourse isn't necessarily limited to a single post. No, many blog writers such as yourself carry on a long-term discourse over the course of many posts. So I suppose it would be possible to suit the skimmer while diving deep at the same time, if one changes one's point of reference from the post to the blog.

By the way, there should be strict limit on comment length, a limit I believe I've exceeded here.

Dan Green

OL: Your comment comes in well under the limit. And your own blog posts are also good examples of longer posts I, myself, wouldn't want to be any shorter. What you have to say requires the (somewhat) longer form.


I wonder if there is some level-of-detail/drilldown markup capabilities that would allow readers to select how much they read. For example on a scale of 1-5. At level one, you would only 1 sentence per paragraph, at level 5, you would get DFW levels of footnotes, parenthetical asides, etc... This could even be extended to a word/phrase level (what level of adjectives & adverbs do you want to see). Of course, the writing (or at least editing & "marking up" would have to be done with this in mind, and it could only apply to computer-based postings, but I think it would be kind of cool. Maybe I'll work on this in my spare time ... just after I've read your posts that I've marked to read later. Hah!

A.C. Douglas

I, too, am a daily reader of Mr. Outer Life's weblog, and almost none of his posts (I say "almost none" only to be on the safe side of never say never) exceed the 1500-word limit suggested in my above linked post (most are in the 1000-1200-word range). Once a weblog post goes over that suggested limit, only the most compelling or compellingly written material will entice a weblog reader to continue reading on, or hold his attention. The weblog format is simply the wrong format for the 2000-5000 word essays of the sort published in some of the more intellectual of print media.



Dan -- I'm with you here. I often exceed the one-screen rule. Darn! The thing I wrestle with most is whether to use a "more" link on substantially longer rants, just in the interest of keeping home page clean. Usually I forget to do this.

Now when it comes to longer, thoughtful posts, I usually save them in my feed reader until I have time to consider them. I'll glance at the first paragraph or so, and if it seems like it will require more than a few minutes, then I'll defer until I can give the post appropriate time. I do the the same thing for magazine articles and even books. The beauty of blogs is that you don't need to clear space on the coffee table to make room for more posts.


I happen to enjoy your long posts and though sometimes I do not have time to read them in their entirety when they are posted... I actually do come back to do so (they are not left abandoned and forgotten). Other bloggers are not so capable of keeping my attention. The posts I skip on their blogs sink into the horrid oblivion of their archives like shipwrecked passengers never to be seen or heard from again (unless they are linked to in newer posts - which, keeping with the shipwrecked passengers metaphor, would be like a message in a bottle suddenly appearing on the shore... which I still ignore and walk past).

Actually, I would call TRE the 'War and Peace' of the blogosphere. Although sometimes the posts can be long, they are a must read (however, if you start actually making your posts as long as War and Peace... I can't promise I won't do a scroll and skim). Do not silence yourself - Tolstoy wouldn't have.

Of course, if you are afraid of your posts being too long and scaring away other readers may i sggst u rite in abrev. form? After all, if it works for thirteen year olds on instant messenger services... it would be great on a literary blog written by an academic (lol <- see you would use acronyms like this! Isn't it fun!). That way you can give the illusion of a one screen entry for a two screen post and anyways people might think you're making a specific post-modern point...


The only long web log posts I have found unreadable are at 2 Blowhards (not to mention incipient crypto fascistic content masquerading as reasoned , uh discussion).

This length/attention span issue is , I suppose, an issue in the real world, but isn't immersion in story telling and collateral activities about transcending our earthly shackles?

Well, I think so anyway.


Surely the thing I enjoy most about blogs is that I find meatier things than I would in edited print materials which often have the guts cut out of them on a regular, soul-destroying basis, making them hyperactive pieces which are not as easy to read as a more thoughtful, discursive piece of work. Also I find bloggers are prompted to select material because they usually have a higher level of interest in the topic than the average journo. So if they need more space to do the matter justice, I'm usually delighted that bloggers go to the trouble to share their thoughts. There's some smart people out here...

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