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Beyond the Blurb: On Critics and Criticism. Published by Cow Eye Press
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THE LITERARY SPHERE: TAKING CRITICISM ONLINE

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THE IDEA OF LITERATURE

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LITERARY AESTHETICS

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LITERATURE IN THE UNIVERSITY

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LET'S REVIEW: BOOK REVIEWING AS LITERARY CRITICISM

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08/06/2007

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Richard

To read the SF-partisans, I wouldn't be surprised to see Orlando claimed as science fiction (as written by a writer "using genre to further her literary worth") because of its premise.

In any event, you've hit on one of the reasons why I find this "debate" so tiresome. And I think realism to these readers means rather tautologically nothing more than, somehow, "not-fantasy" or "not-science fiction". It means fiction that "takes place" in the "normal world" (no clones, no time travel, no apocalypse). This has always struck me as a pointless way of looking at things. I think your characterization of it makes more sense.

I suspect that the writers you suggest as being "the important postwar, postmodern "artistic" fiction" writers are not, Nabokov aside, likely to be the same writers considered by those so wrapped up in this discussion as the important ones of the same period. But, regardless, given the terms of my second paragraph, they might for the most part be thought of as blandly "realist" anyway.

Jonathan Mayhew

Science-fiction and fantasy elements can easily be a part of experimental "literary" fiction: Vonnegut, Calvino, Barthelme come to mind. Not being realists in the first place, they are more open to genre fiction in its less realistic aspects, just as Auster is open to noir influences, precisely by not being a realist. So "artistic literature" is not dominated at all by an exclusion of fantasy.

Science-fiction is marginalized from "literary fiction," to the extent that it is marginalized, because it often doesn't aspire to be "literary fiction." Isn't that a simpler answer?

Mike Lerch

Just wanted to toss my hat into the ring: I'm an avid SF/F reader and especially enjoy Dan Simmons, Neal Stephenson, Neil Gaiman, Orson Scott Card, and William Gibson. I was recently introduced to Cormac McCarthy by a fellow SF/F/Horror fan who told me to read "The Road" as it was not only remarkably written but stood to him as the bleakest book he'd ever read. I read it and enjoyed and admired it tremendously, so much so that I looked for more of his work and read No Country For Old Men, which I also very much enjoyed.

Just wanted to say here's one reader who enjoys Cormac McCarthy as well as Dan Simmons and William Gibson (though I have to confess I'm not a big fan of Updike, lol).

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