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

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I like the idea of adventurous, too -- experimental seems to clinical somehow, and to me, contrived.

Nigel Beale

So, the reason you read fiction is not for enjoyment, or connection, but for the hope you'll come across something This must be a rather unhappy exercise, given that nothing much new has happened since Finnegan's Wake...

I've just finished reading our friend Wood's How Fiction Works. Ironically, although you eschew the 'tried and true' and he defends 'lifeness' and the artful use of realism's conventions, your post faintly resembles what he has to say in his closing sentence: “The true writer, that free servant of life, is one who must always be acting as if life were a category beyond anything the novel had yet grasped; as if life itself were always on the verge of becoming conventional. “


Nothing much new has happened in fiction since Finnegan's Wake? How about the fictions of Borges, Nabokov, Gass, Barthelme, Calvino, Sarraute, Hawkes, Auster, Davis, Maso to name a few?

Oftentimes, when people say they read fiction for enjoyment or connection, all they mean is that they take comfort in literature that doesn't challenge the way they understand the world.

To respond to Dan's final paragraph, I would venture a guess that a lot of the most truly radical literature probably never gets to poke its head above ground long enough to ever trigger the kind of cycle Dewey describes. The "avant-garde" is presumed to "lead" movements in art, but I suspect that quite often the most experimental/adventurous stuff just sits there, unappreciated... And I have to say that's alright to me, since I don't think one should experiment to precipitate "progress," as Dan puts it, but for the sheer love of "unalloyed experience."

Lloyd Mintern

Nigel Beales pomposity apparently knows no bounds. (You have to love it.)


Would I rather have adventurous sex or experimental sex? I don't get experimental equalling clinical, so that's not the reason I choose adventurous. Adventurous sex is progressive, it's a ratcheting of passion, it's sex beyond the mundane. Experimental sex is perhaps rooted in a kind of temerity, a lack of confidence or experience. Experimental sex connotes a lack of devotion, of connection; lacking a clarity of purpose and desire. I don't want to be experimentally sexual, I want to be adventurously sexual.

What? Fiction? Oh.

Can I vote "surfiction"?

Terry Pitts

I, too, think there is merit to jettisoning "experimental", which I think has come to reflect only the technical means that an author uses. Thus, the critique of Steve Erickson's book seems dead on. On the other hand, "adventurousness" helps me understand why an author like Sebald - who has one foot in 19th century literature (if not in Thomas Browne's 17th century) - can feel so essential: there's a sort of head-long tumbling through space and time, history and memory, that all feels un-experimental, but very adventurous. Thanks.


I like the term adventurous as well. Experimental seems too clinical to me. As adventure is subjective, science and experiemental reasoning is so often objective.

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