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Beyond the Blurb: On Critics and Criticism. Published by Cow Eye Press
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06/19/2007

Comments

Anna Tambour

I'm very pleased that you categorised a character's words in my story as "pretentious declamations" as I think they are, too. As to these words "substituting for narrative", that exceeds my skill, as the whole story is his statement. I don't know if he meant to have double meanings for what he said any more than anyone does when we talk, but it would be very tiresome if this were true. "See ya," could take the recipient of that statement a lifetime to ponder, and a huge psychiatric bill. In the case of this character, I'd be willing to bet, furthermore, that he is not interested in literary movements any more than I am, and I would be amazed if his story had a subtext about writing itself. After all, he must be one of the few people today who's never said he's a writer. He's a window dresser, and proud of it. Where his words ended up is more a matter of where they could find a place, like a poster pasted to a wall. This story (like, I imagine, many others in this anthology) existed before there was a wall found that it could be pasted on. Finally, I don't know what his reading tastes are, but I wish that more people read more shallowly.

Anna Tambour

At the risk (hell, the certainty) of being insufferably long-winded, I'll add what I should have said right away. I think it disadvantages any work of fiction to have it pre-supposed as anything but a story in its own right, free of context other than whatever you find in that story. Thus, I agree with the writer of an introduction, that his introduction should be read AFTER the book. Reading an introduction that makes critical judgements and discusses the writing before reading that writing cheats the reader of independent judgement. Furthermore, patterns that others see when they link stories together are just that – their perception – not the stories'. Everyone perceives a work of imagination in a unique way, as the story and the reader's experiences mix to form something, which could perfectly well be buggerall.

Perhaps the only link that might be made in this anthology (and I don't know whether it should be, as I can't speak for other authors) is the lack of trying to write in a genre. But that shouldn't be taken to mean that the stories are written to NOT fit, which would make them become a genre in themselves. Personally, I think a story is written to best express itself, and that's ALL. Every story should have its own voice, as much as you do, though your voice might resemble someone you haven't even met. The story might not fit anywhere, and might be better lost in a blizzard than inflicted on a reader. And if the writer is trying to Say Something through a character whom the writer identifies as a soul-mate, I hope the story and the writer get lost in that blizzard.

You say, "Speaking for myself, I don't what my genres to be anything but sources of interesting fiction. When it comes down to it, I don't even want genres, just worthwhile stories and novels." I love the way that's put, as that is what I look for, too, and the way I think (though I don't know) that all the writers in this collection would feel. The problem, however, is that there are many worthwhile stories and novels that no one gets a chance to read because they don't fit genres; thus, I think, this anthology and the reasons behind the movement that isn't as if it were, it wouldn't be. That's not to say that if you read my story cold, you wouldn't have found it "unreadable . . . pomposity". If so, I'm grateful to you for saying this, as I also hate what you call "straining after Meaning" and pomposity that needs deflating. Wield that pin!

Finally, I don't write about writing and criticism, and this long-winded thing is why. I hope some useful meaning fought its way through all these words.

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