Monday, May 29, 2017

Lacunae in Fiction

The lacunae with fiction, right now,  is that it is hung over from the generation past -  a generation which learned its trade in the 1950s  and 1960s.  That was a time in America fiction where there was really only one word - "I" -  and the trick to writing whether story or a novel,  was to repeat  it endlessly.  And hope that you had done this more than anyone else had.  In its time,  the 1950s and 1960s had power,  and a "me" generation which only wanted to talk about "I".  Editors want to make the old good decisions repeatedly, and readers want to read their favorite book,  only with different words in place of the old ones.  They set up colleges with a creative writing degree program,  which found a generation of new old writers.  

The problem with this is that new old books do not sell as well as old old books do.  Thus there is a rumpus room of applause for the new old books,  but most intimate that old old books are better.  So new old books drop merrily off the cliff and into the abyss.  It's not that there were not great authors,  but they had been assigned to writing novels which were limped and dull.  After all, there  are only so many ways that you can repeat: I. I. I. I. I. I.  - because really be subtext is "Me,  not you."  That means that you have defined new authors have a different me as being spoken to through a novel.

A new generation of authors will become apparent when the editors,  and literary agents,  all die. they are not going to change what kind of novel they are looking for,  even when it outlines are threadbare and worn out.  This happens periodically,  and it is nothing to be alarmed about.  The new generation of authors will in time become an old generation authors,  and have the same thing happen to them.  it may take a little more time - because now syllabus writer's have become involved -  but time is the one thing that a generation has,  and they will make their mark even if it takes more of it than usual.

One advance can take place within a generation - for example, "magical realism".  If you think about it carefully,  all that magical realism has to is imagine other situations to say "I in,  and different imaginary places that cannot be found on a particular map.  Recently a good example is The Underground Railroad,  a marvelous work of fantasy.  From this half-generation came to create writers -  such as Salman Rushdie.  but even with this midcourse change,  their still is waiting a new generation -  which has its own things to say.

If one sets down particular tenets,  one will miss the overarching point of the new generation.  some things will be obvious -  such as putting other languages in your novel,  because now there are voices which do not speak English first,  or learned other  languages to speak to their ancestors.  English is only the beginning.  Even when authors are speaking,  they don't put in this point of information -  even though they themselves speak other languages.  If others cannot speak about using different languages,  when they themselves do so,  there is a problem.

The other point is obvious -  the word I has been used enough in novels,  and one should look back to when it was used before,  Usually, there was an obvious problem with the speaker,  and the author wanted to this problem.  Such as Notes from the Underground -  there is something wrong with the speaker,  but he doesn't realize this.  Or there are many speakers,  and it is the kaleidoscope which the author wants to suggest. 

However,  there is one thing that you can draw from this -  don't use "I" to begin sentences,  at least no more then you use other words.  Drumming downbeat of "I"  becomes monotonous in a story,  as anyone will realize from this month's New Yorker fiction.  The recent story has so many "I"s  it is almost a parody.  The author thinks that his character is conscious,  but does not realize that he is only thinking about himself -  which is just about the first thing that a person with any self-consciousness comes to realize.

Mon Dieu -  another language means a difference in one's vox.  It changes the voice,  and casts the reader into an interpreter - because the author doesn't know if the reader knows this other langue. One can also speak in the written form of the dialect,  or the spoken form of the dialect. This is what Ezra Pound does -  in other words, what this essay presents isn't exactly new,  but has been pushed aside for vernacular and putting certain others first. Now,  the authors that the Creative Writing class likes are -  mostly -  great authors.  you should read In Cold Blood,  To Kill a Mockingbird,  and The Waves - if you are going to make your own mark on fiction -  but those books are by other authors then you. But you should also read  Camus -  for example: L'Étranger - in French,  and Definazi in Haitian Creole,  and Anton Chekhov short novels in Russian,  and Gabriel Garcia Marquez in Spanish -  stretch your own voice. Read books in other languages,  to get a sense of how different languages express different ideas.  Watch in different languages for film,  because the original language of  In the Mood for Love doesn't even have that title,  and the Cantonese is so much more evocative. (花樣年華)

Circle your eyes and realize this is only the voice  -  there are so many more avenues to change than this. 

Unfortunately,  there is a high hurdle to cross -  the thousands of would-be scribblers who do not understand how you have to write a novel.  Thus, for every person who might have a novel in them,  there are about 1000 scribblers to turn away.  No literary agent has that kind of time, even if she actually knows what to look for.  everybody wants to have somebody else say that he or she has discovered the next grade novel,  very few people want to do it for themselves.  That's the gag -  a person does not realize that they are a  scribbler - though they can recognize the scribblerish nature in another. 

But,  there is a new generation rising,  and eventually they will realize that "I"  is not for them. partially because,  the people who were pretending that Iraq was a good idea,  make really rubbishy parodies of it. They want the real writing,  as did the "I" generation before -  but it was a different presidents, and a different war that they fought.