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nshadow
10-24-2012, 06:41 PM
It appears not. I know sometimes movements are not defined until afterwards, but nevertheless I think Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Joyce, Dos Passos, etc. knew they were something special. Same with the Beat Generation of Ginsberg, Kerouac, Burroughs, Ferlinghetti, etc.

the 90's, you could say, had postmodernism, DeLillo, Pynchon, and co.

So what is the defining charactertistic of 21st century literature. Are we so post-post-modernism that now we can't make heads or tails of anything we do, and maybe it doesn't matter? Is another artistic movement even possible in this modern age? I'd like to think it is, but I'm starting to doubt.

Al Stevens
10-24-2012, 07:30 PM
How would you classify Grissom, Clancy, Rowling, King, Wolfe, Ludlum, Vonnegut, Jakes, and others whose works span the latter part of the 20th century and into the 21st?

gothicangel
10-24-2012, 09:14 PM
When I was at uni, my tutors referred to the current trend as post postmodern.

*FYI, postmodern can be attributed to anything post-WWII.

Jamesaritchie
10-24-2012, 09:45 PM
I think all literary movements are created in the minds of critics. God writers just write. The public likes what they write, or not, and lamppost critics come in afterward and pretty much make up everything they say.

kuwisdelu
10-24-2012, 09:54 PM
I think all literary movements are created in the minds of critics. God writers just write.

What's a "God writer"? Is it like an omniscient narrator?

...

More seriously, good writers are also influenced by other good writers, both in the writers of the previous generation they may have emulated while developing their own style, and in their contemporaries with whom they converse. It's the clusters in this network of influences that give rise to literary movements. They're not created by critics; they're simply observed by them.

nshadow
10-24-2012, 11:08 PM
How would you classify Grissom, Clancy, Rowling, King, Wolfe, Ludlum, Vonnegut, Jakes, and others whose works span the latter part of the 20th century and into the 21st?

I would classify them as genre writers, with the exception of Vonnegut. True, literary movements are usually limited to literature, not to fantasy or thriller or mystery writers. So my question is therefore limited to literature, or literary fiction as some call it. Such movements throughout history usually span other art forms as well, sometimes it was the literature that influenced the other areas, and sometimes the reverse. Such movements include Romanticism, Surrealism, Realism, Transcendentalism, Symbolism, Harlem Renaissance, etc etc etc.

theDolphin
10-24-2012, 11:27 PM
If there is, I've not figured it out yet. But as some have already said, the labeling of such movements often happens after the fact. I have, however, noted the specific trend toward economical use of language. Fun article around that, called A Short Defense of Literary Excess by Ben Masters showed up in the NYT Opinionator last week. I'll put the link below if anyone's interested in checking it out.

A Short Defense of Literary Excess (http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/15/a-short-defense-of-literary-excess/)

Don't know if that trend constitutes a Movement, but it is certainly worth noting. :)

Medievalist
10-24-2012, 11:49 PM
I'd point to the New Weird as one potential "movement." It's certainly a school.

Richard White
10-24-2012, 11:55 PM
I would classify them as genre writers, with the exception of Vonnegut. True, literary movements are usually limited to literature, not to fantasy or thriller or mystery writers. So my question is therefore limited to literature, or literary fiction as some call it. Such movements throughout history usually span other art forms as well, sometimes it was the literature that influenced the other areas, and sometimes the reverse. Such movements include Romanticism, Surrealism, Realism, Transcendentalism, Symbolism, Harlem Renaissance, etc etc etc.


And this attitude right here is why we still believe that genre writing is NOT valued in "higher education circuits", where people tend to reinforce each other's prejudices against "non-literary" (whatever the hell that means).

http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=257041

kuwisdelu
10-25-2012, 12:00 AM
I would classify them as genre writers, with the exception of Vonnegut. True, literary movements are usually limited to literature, not to fantasy or thriller or mystery writers. So my question is therefore limited to literature, or literary fiction as some call it.

Such a viewpoint presumes there's a difference between literature and genre.

As an exercise, describe how, exactly, you would define such a difference?

Hint: most (if not all) literary fiction belongs to a genre.

Tepelus
10-25-2012, 12:24 AM
What's a "God writer"? Is it like an omniscient narrator?

Good one, Kuwi. ;)

Medievalist
10-25-2012, 12:25 AM
I would classify them as genre writers, with the exception of Vonnegut. True, literary movements are usually limited to literature, not to fantasy or thriller or mystery writers. So my question is therefore limited to literature, or literary fiction as some call it.

I'm rolling my eyes dude.

"True literary movements are usually limited to literature, not to fantasy or thriller or mystery writers."

Really?

I think someone got stuck in their sophomore literature survey class and never moved past it.

This is an undergraduate non-professional view of literature and literary scholarship, and I grow tired of it. It's also less than appropriate on a forum where we have all kinds of writers.

Give me a canon novel and I'll give you a genre. Literary fiction is not a genre; it's a marketing category. Vonnegut writes SF, or spec fic if you must, and satire. Those are genres.

Medievalist
10-25-2012, 12:38 AM
And this attitude right here is why we still believe that genre writing is NOT valued in "higher education circuits", where people tend to reinforce each other's prejudices against "non-literary" (whatever the hell that means).]

It's by gosh and golly valued by me. There's a reason Ph.D. qualifying exams on the American Novel include Atwood and Stephen King, and Miller's Canticle for Leibowitz.

It wouldn't surprise me at all to see Robert Parker's Looking for Rachel Wallace joining a required reading list for a novel qualifying exam; I notice many schools already have The Left Hand of Darkness or The Dispossessed and Dashiell Hammett's Red Harvest.

amergina
10-25-2012, 12:40 AM
I would classify them as genre writers, with the exception of Vonnegut. True, literary movements are usually limited to literature, not to fantasy or thriller or mystery writers. So my question is therefore limited to literature, or literary fiction as some call it. Such movements throughout history usually span other art forms as well, sometimes it was the literature that influenced the other areas, and sometimes the reverse. Such movements include Romanticism, Surrealism, Realism, Transcendentalism, Symbolism, Harlem Renaissance, etc etc etc.

*checks her Genre vs. Literature card*

BINGO!

Little Ming
10-25-2012, 01:12 AM
:popcorn:

Captcha
10-25-2012, 01:42 AM
It's by gosh and golly valued by me. There's a reason Ph.D. qualifying exams on the American Novel include Atwood and Stephen King, and Miller's Canticle for Leibowitz.


Work by a Canadian (Atwood) counts as an American Novel? From a Canadian perspective, that seems strange...

quicklime
10-25-2012, 01:52 AM
nshadow, you're new here, so perhaps a bit of slack is in order (or perhaps not, as it behooves an adult to look before they leap in general, and AW's rules, including RYFW, are hardly hidden). That said, many of the Exalted Ones you cite were considered flashes in the pan, tripe-peddlers, etc. at various times and by various people. And King racked up a couple big ol' literary awards in the last decade. And all of that is still not as important as the simple fact a lot of this classification and cannonization is done by folks who are more worried about building a rampart to piss off of onto the unwashed masses below than about, oh, say, reality. Or, came about as these works withstood the test of time and failed to fade to obscurity under things newer. Hemingway and Kerouac may have wanted to write well, but neither said "The world is simply craves, nay, DEMANDS, a road book or swordfish story, which shall henceforth become the subject of thesis papers and cliffs notes study-guides."

"Classics" were almost all genre, before they had enough time and adoration to build a pedestal they could sit on. And for the "special" well, those authors all probably felt THEY were special, but as a group, at the time? Shit, a lot of them fucking LOATHED one another. Hemingway and Faulkner had less respect for one another than they probably did for genital warts.


Welcome to AW. We're a tough crowd, and you came in perhaps on the wrong foot, but if you eat your bit of crow and check the presumptions, you stand to learn a lot here, including the horrifying realization how little you perhaps knew when you came here.

nshadow
10-25-2012, 03:04 AM
Wow, didn't mean to offend anyone by stating my question was referring to literary fiction and not to genre fiction. I was simply replying to the poster that the authors he mentioned were writers who do not write literary fiction, and therefore I would not know how to place them in a possible literary movement. I don't know how my answer could possibly be construed as demeaning to fantasy or thriller or mystery writers. All I was stating was that such historical literary and artistic movements (romanticism, realism, modernism, etc.) grow out of literary fiction, that is, the books found in the "Literature" section of Barnes and Noble, and not in the Fantasy or Young Adult sections, and that therefore such authors and the works do not fall into the realm of my question. Again, my apologies for whatever offense my question has obviously caused.

quicklime
10-25-2012, 03:16 AM
...... All I was stating was that such historical literary and artistic movements (romanticism, realism, modernism, etc.) grow out of literary fiction, that is, the books found in the "Literature" section of Barnes and Noble, and not in the Fantasy or Young Adult sections, and that therefore such authors and the works do not fall into the realm of my question. Again, my apologies for whatever offense my question has obviously caused.


but you have it backwards....these books didn't pop up like toadstools, birthed in the "Literature" section at Barnes and Noble, they were just books. Books with staying power, and that got them placed in Literature, not the other way around. Had Hemingway's books been written now, they would be mainstream or contemporary; they wouldn't drop right into the "literary" shelf. Rebecca would have been mainstream with horror elements or horror. Grapes of Wrath, again, mainstream. Lord of the Flies would have probably gone into YA.

nshadow
10-25-2012, 03:27 AM
but you have it backwards....these books didn't pop up like toadstools, birthed in the "Literature" section at Barnes and Noble, they were just books. Books with staying power, and that got them placed in Literature, not the other way around. Had Hemingway's books been written now, they would be mainstream or contemporary; they wouldn't drop right into the "literary" shelf. Rebecca would have been mainstream with horror elements or horror. Grapes of Wrath, again, mainstream. Lord of the Flies would have probably gone into YA.

You are confusing these classic's popularity with the issue of their genre. I am not saying that genre books like Grisham's will not have lasting effect--they certainly will. Same with J.K. Rowling's and the others. But that does not mean they are the sort of books which beget international artistic movements. The writers of such movements--Hemingway for the Lost Generation, Kerouac for the Beats, etc.--do not write genre fiction. Same with all the other writers in the historical literary movements I named.

When Hemigway's fiction came out, no one was hustling about deciding what genre it fit in. No one was immediately sure his works would have lasting effects, granted, but everyone immediately recognized his efforts belonged in the world of literary fiction, not of fantasy or what have you.

So please do not read into my comments that I am talking about what books will have lasting value. I am speaking specifically of literary and artistic movements. That is, a group of writers all writing with a new method, or who share a similar vision. My question was whether or not the works of the 21st century literary authors will be placed in one, or whether our centuries status as post-post modern will necessarily prevent such labeling.

BBBurke
10-25-2012, 03:44 AM
Just read an article on the New Yorker supposedly defending Genre Fiction (while defining it as inferior to Literary).

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/books/2012/10/its-genre-fiction-not-that-theres-anything-wrong-with-it.html?mobify=0

I always thought the very separation of 'literature' in book stores to be rather silly and arbitrary. It's really no more a genre than YA is; it's a marketing term. As such, it's time and sales that will determine what the literary movement turned out to be.

kuwisdelu
10-25-2012, 03:49 AM
You are confusing these classic's popularity with the issue of their genre. I am not saying that genre books like Grisham's will not have lasting effect--they certainly will. Same with J.K. Rowling's and the others. But that does not mean they are the sort of books which beget international artistic movements. The writers of such movements--Hemingway for the Lost Generation, Kerouac for the Beats, etc.--do not write genre fiction. Same with all the other writers in the historical literary movements I named.

When Hemigway's fiction came out, no one was hustling about deciding what genre it fit in. No one was immediately sure his works would have lasting effects, granted, but everyone immediately recognized his efforts belonged in the world of literary fiction, not of fantasy or what have you.

You're mistaking "contemporary" with "literary."

Literary fiction generally belongs to a genre.

On the Road is a roman a clef and travel fiction.

For Whom the Bell Tolls is a war novel.

Etc.

Whether a novel is literary fiction or not has nothing to do with what genre it is.

nshadow
10-25-2012, 03:49 AM
Well, I think the reason "literature" is not classified and specifically labeled the way genre is, is because the "literary" novels are hard to classify, in that they span a wide range of plots and conflicts and types of characters. In the mystery genre, for instance, there's a common thread--there's a mystery that needs solved. And usually the protagonist or narrator is the one (detective, police officer, private eye) who sets out to solve the mystery.

To be honest, I did not know until just now seeing the reaction to my post that some people feel insecure about being genre writers. I see no reason why this should be the case, especially since these are the most widely known and best-selling authors working today.

quicklime
10-25-2012, 03:53 AM
When Hemigway's fiction came out, no one was hustling about deciding what genre it fit in. No one was immediately sure his works would have lasting effects, granted, but everyone immediately recognized his efforts belonged in the world of literary fiction, not of fantasy or what have you.
umm, it had no fantastic elements that I'm aware of--nobody was debating if Bridges of Madison County or Bridgette Jones' Diary were fantasy either. But as mentioned, For Whom The Bell Tolls was a war novel. And would probably end up in "contemporary" or "mainstream" right now, as a new release. Old Man and The Sea would have been the same. They weren't shelved in "Literary" in the 50s, I suspect.

So please do not read into my comments that I am talking about what books will have lasting value. I am speaking specifically of literary and artistic movements. That is, a group of writers all writing with a new method, or who share a similar vision. My question was whether or not the works of the 21st century literary authors will be placed in one, or whether our centuries status as post-post modern will necessarily prevent such labeling.
..

quicklime
10-25-2012, 03:55 AM
Well, I think the reason "literature" is not classified and specifically labeled the way genre is, is because the "literary" novels are hard to classify, in that they span a wide range of plots and conflicts and types of characters. In the mystery genre, for instance, there's a common thread--there's a mystery that needs solved. And usually the protagonist or narrator is the one (detective, police officer, private eye) who sets out to solve the mystery.

To be honest, I did not know until just now seeing the reaction to my post that some people feel insecure about being genre writers. I see no reason why this should be the case, especially since these are the most widely known and best-selling authors working today.


they don't. They find some of the comments about "literary" false and tiring. That's not a "who has a bigger dick" issue, it is a "asking if you walk to school or carry a lunch is a false dichotomy, and I have a problem with that" issue

kuwisdelu
10-25-2012, 04:00 AM
Well, I think the reason "literature" is not classified and specifically labeled the way genre is, is because the "literary" novels are hard to classify, in that they span a wide range of plots and conflicts and types of characters. In the mystery genre, for instance, there's a common thread--there's a mystery that needs solved. And usually the protagonist or narrator is the one (detective, police officer, private eye) who sets out to solve the mystery.

Are you telling me you've never read a literary mystery novel?

My go-to suggestion is always Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose, but I'm sure other posters have other favorites they can suggest, too.


To be honest, I did not know until just now seeing the reaction to my post that some people feel insecure about being genre writers. I see no reason why this should be the case, especially since these are the most widely known and best-selling authors working today.

Yup, that's definitely not it.

Medievalist
10-25-2012, 04:13 AM
You are confusing these classic's popularity with the issue of their genre. I am not saying that genre books like Grisham's will not have lasting effect--they certainly will. Same with J.K. Rowling's and the others. But that does not mean they are the sort of books which beget international artistic movements. The writers of such movements--Hemingway for the Lost Generation, Kerouac for the Beats, etc.--do not write genre fiction. Same with all the other writers in the historical literary movements I named.

Jaysus. They absolutely friggin' did write genre fiction.

Look. You're tossing around terms and ideas that you do not understand.

Genre does not mean what you think it means. Really, it doesn't.


When Hemigway's fiction came out, no one was hustling about deciding what genre it fit in. No one was immediately sure his works would have lasting effects, granted, but everyone immediately recognized his efforts belonged in the world of literary fiction, not of fantasy or what have you.

Well, no, actually, it didn't. It was marketed as a war novel, a particular genre.

Moreover, For Whom the Bell Tolls wasn't recognized by some fairly studly literary authorities as "literary" rather than popular; you might want to look into the Pulitzer scandal that revolved around For Whom the Bell Tolls and the the 1941 prize for letters.

Essentially, the decision of the committee was overruled, because the Butler felt the novel lacked literary merit.


So please do not read into my comments that I am talking about what books will have lasting value. I am speaking specifically of literary and artistic movements. That is, a group of writers all writing with a new method, or who share a similar vision. My question was whether or not the works of the 21st century literary authors will be placed in one, or whether our centuries status as post-post modern will necessarily prevent such labeling.

You're still looking at it hind-end too, and again, I suggest looking at the New Weird.

Medievalist
10-25-2012, 04:22 AM
Well, I think the reason "literature" is not classified and specifically labeled the way genre is, is because the "literary" novels are hard to classify, in that they span a wide range of plots and conflicts and types of characters. In the mystery genre, for instance, there's a common thread--there's a mystery that needs solved. And usually the protagonist or narrator is the one (detective, police officer, private eye) who sets out to solve the mystery.

Yeah, you're not catching on.

Dude you're just wrong. Starting with your entire understanding of what genre is, and has been.

Seriously, I'm in the perfect position to know this kind of shit.

For one thing, I don't write fiction, and have no interest in writing fiction.

For another, I have a Ph.D. in English. My specific areas of expertise—defined by passing Ph.D. qualifying exams—include Medieval literature through Romanticism, and the Novel.

Nor am I the only such person posting in this very thread.

There are a lot of people on AW with disgustingly advanced educations in literature and literary history.

Many of whom, unlike me, also write fiction.


To be honest, I did not know until just now seeing the reaction to my post that some people feel insecure about being genre writers. I see no reason why this should be the case, especially since these are the most widely known and best-selling authors working today.

It's not insecurity, it's the eye-rolling naïvete of your posts and your underlying assumptions about literature.

The canon is littered with genre. Hawthorne, Melville, Dickens, Austen, Bronte, Joyce, Fielding, Richardson, Hemingway, Faulkner, Fitzgerald all wrote genre novels.

I get that you're fresh out of college, and excited, but some of us have seen this fifty gazillion times, and it's just as daft a set of assumptions now as it was the first three thousand times.

kuwisdelu
10-25-2012, 04:28 AM
I'm wondering when it was in time that writers started concerning themselves over this "literary vs genre" business.

buz
10-25-2012, 04:32 AM
True, literary movements are usually limited to literature, not to fantasy or thriller or mystery writers. So my question is therefore limited to literature, or literary fiction as some call it. Such movements throughout history usually span other art forms as well, sometimes it was the literature that influenced the other areas, and sometimes the reverse. Such movements include Romanticism, Surrealism, Realism, Transcendentalism, Symbolism, Harlem Renaissance, etc etc etc.


Wow, didn't mean to offend anyone by stating my question was referring to literary fiction and not to genre fiction. I was simply replying to the poster that the authors he mentioned were writers who do not write literary fiction, and therefore I would not know how to place them in a possible literary movement. I don't know how my answer could possibly be construed as demeaning to fantasy or thriller or mystery writers.

I wouldn't call it offensive, just narrow-minded. You excluded fantasy/thriller/mystery as "literature" by virtue of its being "genre" when the two terms are not mutually exclusive. You tried to impose a limitation on your question that does not make sense to me.


All I was stating was that such historical literary and artistic movements (romanticism, realism, modernism, etc.) grow out of literary fiction, that is, the books found in the "Literature" section of Barnes and Noble, and not in the Fantasy or Young Adult sections, and that therefore such authors and the works do not fall into the realm of my question. Again, my apologies for whatever offense my question has obviously caused.So Frankenstein isn't part of Romanticism? I was taught it was. Is Kafka not part of the Modernist movement or somesuch? Isn't turning into a bug necessarily a sort of fantasy or scifi? How do you classify Poe? Irving? Couldn't Jane Eyre be YA? Or "women's fiction"? How 'bout Little Women? Isn't The Hunchback of Notre Dame historical fiction?

I find fantasy, scifi, horror and so forth in the "literature" section all the time. The lines aren't particularly well-defined, and nor are they, probably, particularly useful. (Are they extant? I don't know...:D I don't know enough about stuff.)

kuwisdelu
10-25-2012, 04:35 AM
Couldn't Jane Eyre be YA? Or "women's fiction"?

Neither of those are really genres either.

Jane Eyre is bildungsroman and gothic fiction.


I find fantasy, scifi, horror and so forth in the "literature" section all the time. The lines aren't particularly well-defined, and nor are they, probably, particularly useful. (Are they extant? I don't know... I don't know enough about stuff.)

I had a helluva time finding Philip K. Dick's novels before I realized he was shelved in the SFF section. Same thing happened with Arturo Perez-Reverte until I realized he was shelved under mystery. Yeah, I can be an idiot, too, sometimes.

buz
10-25-2012, 04:37 AM
Neither of those are really genres either.

Jane Eyre is bildungsroman and gothic fiction.

Quite. :D There was some mention of YA and bookstore shelving...

Medievalist
10-25-2012, 05:32 AM
I'm wondering when it was in time that writers started concerning themselves over this "literary vs genre" business.

Literary fiction seems to have first appeared as a phrase in 197-2 I think, I spent a while combing through corpora looking for it a couple of years ago.

I suspect it's closely related to the emergence of chain book stores and the desire to have systematic organization for stocking and ordering purposes.

Vaulted
10-25-2012, 10:40 AM
It appears not. I know sometimes movements are not defined until afterwards, but nevertheless I think Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Joyce, Dos Passos, etc. knew they were something special. Same with the Beat Generation of Ginsberg, Kerouac, Burroughs, Ferlinghetti, etc.

These writers are defined by their individuality, not by membership of any movement. "Movements" are for catalogers and bandwagon-jumpers.

Theo81
10-25-2012, 01:20 PM
Well, I think the reason "literature" is not classified and specifically labeled the way genre is, is because the "literary" novels are hard to classify, in that they span a wide range of plots and conflicts and types of characters. In the mystery genre, for instance, there's a common thread--there's a mystery that needs solved. And usually the protagonist or narrator is the one (detective, police officer, private eye) who sets out to solve the mystery.

To be honest, I did not know until just now seeing the reaction to my post that some people feel insecure about being genre writers. I see no reason why this should be the case, especially since these are the most widely known and best-selling authors working today.

I disagree. When I pick up a romance novel, I know there is going to be a Happy Ever After. It wouldn't be marketed as romance otherwise.
When I pick up a High Fantasy novel, I know there's going to be ... erm ... Elves? People with multi-syllable names? Something like that, anyway.
When I pick up a Literary Fiction, I know the story is going to develop in a certain way and be concerned with certain things, that there will be more emphasis on what is happening below the surface and that there will be things I, the reader, understand without them being in the book (See The Remains of The Day for a great example of this in action.)

Take Q: a love story by Evan Mandery (You all have to read it. The MC is a writer and his agent is called Janet Snarklee - guess who reps him :)). It is, as you can guess, a love story. It's about a guy who is in love with a woman called Q but then the MC is told by his future self he must dump her.
Now, if it were a proper Romance, there'd be terrible misunderstandings and the Hero would angst and we'd see the effect the break-up had on them both so when they did get back together, we'd be cheering.
If it were sci-fi or speculative (because it's got the time travel thing), the decision change would probably have some kind of knock-on effect and there'd be repercussions and the story would explore that.
Because it is literary fiction, it includes a chapter of the MCs alternate history novel in which Freud never becomes a psychoanalyst because he publishes his paper on the location of eel testes instead. (seriously, you guys have to read it.).

However, as well as being literary, it is also a love story.

Literary and Genre are not mutually exclusive. You can have Philippa Gregory writing Historical Fiction, but you can also have Hilary Mantel writing Literary Historical Fiction. You may not be able to sell Hilary Mantel to a Philippa Gregory fan, and that is why we make the distinction between them.

seun
10-25-2012, 02:44 PM
I couldn't give a monkey's about being part of any movement. I just like to tell tales.

Genre tales, for what it's worth.

theDolphin
10-25-2012, 04:13 PM
I posted early on in this thread, so have been following its progress. I wasn’t going to post once it turned argumentative, because I’m new here, and I didn’t want to start out arguing with folks. But after watching the conversation, I decided to contribute.

I think it extremely unfortunate that this thread about literary movements has disintegrated into an attack on someone suggesting that the question applies more to literary than genre fiction.

In the first place, the use of the term “genre” in contemporary publishing terminology is very different than “genre” in university literary studies terminology. The distinction nshadow was making is not only important that contemporary writers be able to make without becoming defensive, it is crucial.

Contemporary publishing genres are defined by their specific attention to the contemporary formula, and not by their ability to change the way we view fiction. Our queries are based on an understanding of those genre distinctions, and if you go to an agent who works particularly with a given genre and you have a variation that strays too far from that standard formula, there’s a 99% chance you’re going to get absolutely nowhere. In those cases you have to find an agent and a publisher who can think outside the box with you.

Literary movements, on the other hand, tend to take place in certain small blocks of time and speak to the specific cultural concerns of people during those periods, usually altering the contemporary "rules" stylistically and/or structurally and thus changing the way we view literature.

Lastly, the literary cannon is a classification of works that are considered the most significant of any particular era. They can be defined by their excellence within a literary (academic) genre, or by their contributions to the style and structure of the novel.

So if, in clarifying his question, nshadow implies that Tom Clancy, while a fun read, isn’t a revolutionary literary artist who’s going to change the way people view fiction as a whole, well, I for one would agree with him. Does it mean Stephen King won’t be canonized eventually? Who the hell knows? But the implication that his distinction has no validity or that his question doesn’t warrant discussion because it makes that distinction is really unfortunate. I would have enjoyed the conversation.

quicklime
10-25-2012, 04:57 PM
I posted early on in this thread, so have been following its progress. I wasn’t going to post once it turned argumentative, because I’m new here, and I didn’t want to start out arguing with folks. But after watching the conversation, I decided to contribute.

I think it extremely unfortunate that this thread about literary movements has disintegrated into an attack on someone suggesting that the question applies more to literary than genre fiction. i just think it is interesting that disagreement with a flawed base premise somehow equals "an attack". particularly when the only way the OP was able to interpret the disagreement was to assume everyone here was suffering from some literary version of class envy.

In the first place, the use of the term “genre” in contemporary publishing terminology is very different than “genre” in university literary studies terminology. The distinction nshadow was making is not only important that contemporary writers be able to make without becoming defensive, it is crucial. nobody was defensive, so much as less than inspired by his comments and their accuracy level. I cannot speak for the entire thread, but sincerely doubt a single poster who disagreed with the OP did so because he felt vampires and Harlequin imprints were being unfairly trashed, only that the guys he's considering heavy-hitters were in fact just writing, like anyone else, and barring the gift of 20 years' hindsight, they all went into, or would have gone into, some "genre" shelf....

Contemporary publishing genres are defined by their specific attention to the contemporary formula, and not by their ability to change the way we view fiction. nobody said otherwise. and at the time? For Whom the Bell Tolls was just another "war novel." Our queries are based on an understanding of those genre distinctions, and if you go to an agent who works particularly with a given genre and you have a variation that strays too far from that standard formula, there’s a 99% chance you’re going to get absolutely nowhere. In those cases you have to find an agent and a publisher who can think outside the box with you. true. except, again, I don't believe anyone suggested this was not the case, or even brought UP agents prior to this....which is making this look a bit like some sort of straw-man construct, dolphin.

Literary movements, on the other hand, tend to take place in certain small blocks of time and speak to the specific cultural concerns of people during those periods, usually altering the contemporary "rules" stylistically and/or structurally and thus changing the way we view literature. exactly. which means until a critical mass of work and time has come along, those were, agan, just books. Books which would have been shelved by their "genre," whatever that may have been

Lastly, the literary cannon is a classification of works that are considered the most significant of any particular era. They can be defined by their excellence within a literary (academic) genre, or by their contributions to the style and structure of the novel. much of which is not universally appreciated, especially at the time--see someone else's earlier post about the shitstorm when Hemingway got his award.

So if, in clarifying his question, nshadow implies that Tom Clancy, while a fun read, isn’t a revolutionary literary artist who’s going to change the way people view fiction as a whole, well, I for one would agree with him. Does it mean Stephen King won’t be canonized eventually? Who the hell knows? But the implication that his distinction has no validity or that his question doesn’t warrant discussion because it makes that distinction is really unfortunate. I don't believe anyone said he can't have a discussion, they said his question was based on false conclusions from the start. If I say we need to discuss if a stop sign is red or octagonal, and solve this dilemma once and for all, am I gonna get to be a victim later when people say "dude, you are wrong, because you are assuming it can only be one, when it is in fact both."? I would have enjoyed the conversation.

dolphin,

everyone here writes. and they all take it seriously. that means there are arguments.

in this case, well, you can discuss all you like. in fact, this thread IS what discussion often looks like, in politics, writing, or most anywhere else. So besides lamenting how awful it is folks suggested the OP is operating under some incorrect beliefs, what might you like to add?

buz
10-25-2012, 05:31 PM
So if, in clarifying his question, nshadow implies that Tom Clancy, while a fun read, isn’t a revolutionary literary artist who’s going to change the way people view fiction as a whole, well, I for one would agree with him. Does it mean Stephen King won’t be canonized eventually? Who the hell knows? But the implication that his distinction has no validity or that his question doesn’t warrant discussion because it makes that distinction is really unfortunate. I would have enjoyed the conversation.

It could warrant discussion, sure, but when discussion ensued, it was posited that writers like Clancy or King couldn't be a part of any literary movement--not because of their individual writing qualities/styles/whatever, but because they belong in the category of "genre writers," who cannot be a part of literary movements by virtue of their not being "literary" writers:


True, literary movements are usually limited to literature, not to fantasy or thriller or mystery writers. So my question is therefore limited to literature, or literary fiction as some call it.

Which puts the discussion in an unfollowable and untenable place (I feel). It makes no sense to me that certain writers can't be writing "literature" if they have undead cats in their writing. If you propose a starting place that makes no sense to some people, their first inclination is to drag it back to a place that makes sense, le no?

It's fine to say that Clancy is not a revolutionary literary artist based on qualities that are particular to Clancy's writing. It makes perfect sense to discuss an author's place in literary or cultural history based on their individual work. But to say that Clancy is not a revolutionary literary artist or can't have any cultural/literary importance because he writes thrillers doesn't make sense.

Mr Flibble
10-25-2012, 05:41 PM
But to say that Clancy is not a revolutionary literary artist or can't have any cultural/literary importance because he writes thrillers doesn't make sense.

I think that's the basic part where the discussion as put forward by the OP falls down.

A thriller could be revolutionary in its structure, in its handling of the subject matter, in its themes and forms etc. Some people might then say it is 'literary', but that doesn't stop it being a thriller too (as Medi noted upthread, New Weird might be considered a literary movement and that's fantasy). So saying that a discussion of new literary movements cannot include genres is an artificial condition that doesn't take into account that 'literaryness' is not confined to a certain sort of novel, and conversely that many literary novels are not revolutionary in any way (they are as likely to be as genre imo).

So the basic question is flawed by removing a whole chunk of relevant literature from discussion.

Theo81
10-25-2012, 05:58 PM
Contemporary publishing genres are defined by their specific attention to the contemporary formula, and not by their ability to change the way we view fiction. Our queries are based on an understanding of those genre distinctions, and if you go to an agent who works particularly with a given genre and you have a variation that strays too far from that standard formula, there’s a 99% chance you’re going to get absolutely nowhere. In those cases you have to find an agent and a publisher who can think outside the box with you.


Genre is a label. When I'm told I'm going to be given cake, I'm going to be pretty cross if you give me a piece of steak. If I'm reading a Historical Novel, I don't expect Henry VIII to walk through his personal dinosaur zoo. If you write a genre novel which strays so far out of the confines of that then it becomes a different genre, or it might become two, like Sci-Fi Romance. It's not about thinking outside the box, it's about marketing ourselves correctly, even if that means calling it Post-modernism.






So if, in clarifying his question, nshadow implies that Tom Clancy, while a fun read, isn’t a revolutionary literary artist who’s going to change the way people view fiction as a whole, well, I for one would agree with him. Does it mean Stephen King won’t be canonized eventually? Who the hell knows? But the implication that his distinction has no validity or that his question doesn’t warrant discussion because it makes that distinction is really unfortunate. I would have enjoyed the conversation.

I'm trying to think of a game changing novel from the last ten years which has been literary.

JK Rowling - Revitalised Children's literature and created the adult/crossover novel market.
Stephanie Meyer - YA as a major market in publishing.
David Nicholls - got men reading a book which "shouldn't" have appealed to them
EL James - brought Erotica to the mainstream
Dan Brown - Revitalised the adventure novel
G R R R R R Marrrrrrtin - (via the TV Series) discovered Women like Fantasy novels too, the wretches.


These are the people who have changed the way people view books (although at least two of them aren't going to have a lasting legacy, IMO). If I was making this list in 1990, I'd probably have Martin Amis, Salman Rushdie and Jeanette Winterston on there along with whoever the biggest Bonkbuster writer of the day happened to be.

As far as I'm concerned, a genre novel can be cannon and it can change the way we look at literature. Plenty of them were.

Hamilton
10-25-2012, 06:25 PM
Hmm...Now I'm confuzzled about words and meanings.

I figured: literature is to genre fiction as fine art is to illustration. Genre fiction, like illustration, just has to be engaging. Literary fiction can be the equivalent of watching someone pour dirt and water on a wooden chair and engaging in a serious critique of it.

amergina
10-25-2012, 06:44 PM
Literary fiction seems to have first appeared as a phrase in 197-2 I think, I spent a while combing through corpora looking for it a couple of years ago.

I suspect it's closely related to the emergence of chain book stores and the desire to have systematic organization for stocking and ordering purposes.

This makes a lot of sense...

I've often wondered how marketing categories changed fiction, including literary fiction. Commercial literary fiction seems to have it's own genre conventions and reader expectations...

theDolphin
10-25-2012, 06:54 PM
Quicklime, I respectfully disagree with most of your assessment of my post. :)
I don't think disagreement over a flawed premise constitutes an attack. I do think repeated insistence on it does. Also, I'd like to point out that rather than merely "lamenting" I did add to the actual discussion of the question earlier, so you're more than welcome to read that and respond to it if you like. But thank you for asking if I’d anything more to contribute. I do. :)

buzhidao, I get where you're coming from. And I do think that's part of the actual discussion of the question… explanation to follow:

In terms of the original question: Is there a 21st century literary movement? :

A definition of terms seems in order, although I think it's safe to say that people will have different opinions about them. :) It seems most of us would agree that literary movements are birthed from various genres, but would you guys say that a literary movement has to involve a redefinition of those genres, or an addition to those genres, or a change in form, style and structure that motivates other people to emulate them? Does changing the market equate with a movement? Can there be great authors who are not part of any movement? And once we decide what constitutes a literary movement, are there any we can spot in the last ten years?

It’s such intriguing stuff and I’m not entirely sure where I fall on some of those questions, myself!

Mr Flibble
10-25-2012, 07:02 PM
It seems most of us would agree that literary movements are birthed from various genres, but would you guys say that a literary movement has to involve a redefinition of those genres, or an addition to those genres, or a change in form, style and structure that motivates other people to emulate them? Does changing the market equate with a movement? Can there be great authors who are not part of any movement? And once we decide what constitutes a literary movement, are there any we can spot in the last ten years?

Now there's some good questions.

For me, I think it may not change a genre outright, but there is an addition to the genre, that inspires others to experiment in the same or similar style, or to expand again with their own take on it. For instance, New Weird -- China Meiville is perhaps the best known. It encompasses lots of fantasy, and some horror and a few other things, but in a new way. It hasn't replaced the genre (there's still plenty of elves and dragons etc) but it is an addition to it, a broadening and deepening of it. (I don't think it changes the market either, except peripherally). And there are plenty of great authors in fantasy/horror who aren't part of this movement. Being part of a movement doesn't automatically make the author/book better (which is subjective anyway). It makes them different perhaps, and maybe these books will appeal to different people - ones who wouldn't usually read fantasy.

Medievalist
10-25-2012, 09:05 PM
I posted early on in this thread, so have been following its progress. I wasn’t going to post once it turned argumentative, because I’m new here, and I didn’t want to start out arguing with folks. But after watching the conversation, I decided to contribute.

I think it extremely unfortunate that this thread about literary movements has disintegrated into an attack on someone suggesting that the question applies more to literary than genre fiction.

You're not reading well. The OP was not actually genuinely asking a question; he was pontificating with the expectation of cookies because he underestimated his audience and over estimated his understanding of the terms and concepts he was juggling.


In the first place, the use of the term “genre” in contemporary publishing terminology is very different than “genre” in university literary studies terminology.

No, it's not, not by publishing professionals.

And I say that as someone who has worked retail, and in libraries, and production and editorial. One of the joys of reading slush is the number of authors who do not understand genre, but they are not publishing professionals; they are authors. They're professional writers, but not publishing professionals.

Genre has not been redefined. Nor is the meaning of a particular genre different in publishing and in academe—and I say this as someone whose dissertation was on medieval urban fantasy in Middle English, Medieval Irish and Medieval Welsh.


The distinction nshadow was making is not only important that contemporary writers be able to make without becoming defensive, it is crucial.

He wasn't making a distinction; he made a serious of false assertions.


Literary movements, on the other hand, tend to take place in certain small blocks of time and speak to the specific cultural concerns of people during those periods, usually altering the contemporary "rules" stylistically and/or structurally and thus changing the way we view literature.

He asked if there were a 21 century literary movement, then engaged in as series of posts that indicated he isn't as informed as he perhaps thought he was. I strongly suspected he was attempting not so much actually ask a question, as make an appearance. His question—which he himself attempted to answer in his first post—was largely rhetorical.

He badly misread his audience.

I suggested the New Weird as a possible literary movement, and noted that it is definitely a school. S.v. China Miéville and Jeff VanderMeer et al.


Does it mean Stephen King won’t be canonized eventually? Who the hell knows? But the implication that his distinction has no validity or that his question doesn’t warrant discussion because it makes that distinction is really unfortunate. I would have enjoyed the conversation.

First, Stephen King is already in the canon; first time one of his novellas was first anthologized by Norton or Oxford, his fate was sealed. The fact that King's novels are increasingly included on the Ph.D. American Novel reading lists is another indication that he is canon fodder.

Second, the way the canon is shaped in the twentieth and twenty first centuries is a bit different than it was in early eras. For one thing, British literature has expanded to include the writers in former British colonies, so it's not just a precious stone set in the silver sea. For another, older works that are public domain are privileged not only for quality, but for affordability in inclusion in the primary anthologies used as texts. Thus commerce shapes the literary arts, because what academics teach tends to directly relate to what they publish, and what they publish in terms of commentary shapes the canon.

Third, I'm not sure if you really understand the idiocy of the OP's implied assertion that literary fiction is not genre fiction.

The OP made a number of assumptions about writers of genre fiction, and about literary history. They reflect poorly on his understanding.

Nor do I think you realize how very often we see new members engage in this particular set of fallacies.

http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=230625

http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=216277

http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=200136

http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=175726

http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=107072

http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=38705

And that's not even half of the threads.

Xelebes
10-25-2012, 09:24 PM
I'm going to go out on a limb and say. . .

wait for it





wait for it. . .





Hipsterism.

A movement based on friendlier relationships with parents but greater pessimism or angst that they will be able to separate from their parents like the previous generations. A greater involvement of kitsch and kitschy treatments of older issues.

Or something like that. I don't know.

theDolphin
10-25-2012, 10:37 PM
Now there's some good questions.

For me, I think it may not change a genre outright, but there is an addition to the genre, that inspires others to experiment in the same or similar style, or to expand again with their own take on it...

Interesting! I was thinking about that kind of thing too. Stephen King, for example is a great storyteller and changed the face of the contemporary horror genre. But do we call what he began a 'movement?'

The answer for me is still a question mark (though I'm open to being convinced one way or the other!). I mean most acknowledged literary movements seem to be defined by a movement in not just literature, but philosophy, whether they're defined in the moment (like the Beat movement or Lost Generation writers) or after the fact (like the Romantics or the metaphysical poets). Maybe it's harder to see those shifts when we're in the midst of them?

I do think it's worth looking at the kind of changes you're talking about with Meiville or that I'm talking about with King, whether or not they're ultimately classed that way.

On a completely different note, I have to admit I haven't read any Meiville yet! But it sounds like I should. I'd love to see what you're talking about. :)



I suggested the New Weird as a possible literary movement, and noted that it is definitely a school. S.v. China Miéville and Jeff VanderMeer et al.

First, Stephen King is already in the canon; first time one of his novellas was first anthologized by Norton or Oxford, his fate was sealed. The fact that King's novels are increasingly included on the Ph.D. American Novel reading lists is another indication that he is canon fodder.


Excellent points! Didn't see them before I posted to MrFlibble, but it's in keeping with what we were talking about, so I'm editing my post. Hope that's the right way to go about this!

I do read some fantasy, but not exclusively, and it sounds like I've missed some major players! In looking into The New Wierd, it sounds like it would certainly constitute a movement, though it sounds like it may be too soon to define it perfectly.

Also, I'd not thought of that with King, but of course you're right. As to whether he will be considered the dawn of a specific literary movement, I think the journey's probably still out?

As to your responses to the rest of my post, as I did with Quickline, I must respectfully disagree.

quicklime
10-25-2012, 11:13 PM
As to your responses to the rest of my post, as I did with Quickline, I must respectfully disagree.

wow....I don't have the benefit of study specifically in the area the way medievalist does, but I do find the idea one can refute everything she says with a "I just don't believe it" sans counter-argument other than not wanting to hear it to be almost mind-boggling.

theDolphin
10-25-2012, 11:57 PM
wow....I don't have the benefit of study specifically in the area the way medievalist does, but I do find the idea one can refute everything she says with a "I just don't believe it" sans counter-argument other than not wanting to hear it to be almost mind-boggling.

It's not about inability, it's about polite disinterest. As I stated in my original post, and have contributed since, I'd rather discuss the actual original question. It would be foolhardy to engage in debate over such assertions as whether or not I was "reading well," or nshadow was "pontificating with the expectation of cookies", etc. Interesting though that you feel the need to imply I'm somehow an intellectual chicken if that disinterests me.

kuwisdelu
10-26-2012, 12:16 AM
I would have found the supposed original topic interesting, too, but there was someone wrong on the internet, and, well, you know, priorities.

theDolphin
10-26-2012, 12:30 AM
I would have found the supposed original topic interesting, too, but there was someone wrong on the internet, and, well, you know, priorities.

lol. That was pretty good kuwisdelu. :)

calieber
10-26-2012, 08:05 AM
Hemingway and Kerouac may have wanted to write well, but neither said "The world is simply craves, nay, DEMANDS, a road book or swordfish story, which shall henceforth become the subject of thesis papers and cliffs notes study-guides."

I most certainly do write with HS English classes in 2050 in mind.

Not always, and not primarily that, but I do think about it.

quicklime
10-26-2012, 08:53 AM
I most certainly do write with HS English classes in 2050 in mind.

Not always, and not primarily that, but I do think about it.


you can do whatever you like, but I very much doubt they were.....

kuwisdelu
10-26-2012, 09:05 AM
On the one hand, it would be nice to be chosen to be read in HS English courses, because of the wide readership exposure.

On the other hand, I kind of cringe at the thought of someone being forced to read my work.

Medievalist
10-26-2012, 09:37 AM
On the one hand, it would be nice to be chosen to be read in HS English courses, because of the wide readership exposure.

On the other hand, I kind of cringe at the thought of someone being forced to read my work.

Just cash the check dude; you get paid whether they read it or not.

Textbook royalties are some of the best passive income evah.

SomethingOrOther
10-26-2012, 10:34 AM
Genre is a label. When I'm told I'm going to be given cake, I'm going to be pretty cross if you give me a piece of steak.

This is a genre bender:

http://i.imgur.com/YGHr2.jpg

kuwisdelu
10-26-2012, 10:39 AM
Just cash the check dude; you get paid whether they read it or not.

Would I still be around to cash them?

College courses, maybe, but HS curricula tend to be a bit... slow... in picking up contemporary stuff. My HS had a lot of nice contemporary selections in the 4th year, but for the most part, it was still mostly dead white guys. And how can I cash a check if I'm dead and white?

And I'd need to get published first, anyway.

blacbird
10-26-2012, 11:05 AM
Yes there is: James Patterson's farmed-out novel writing factory.

caw

Theo81
10-26-2012, 12:40 PM
It's not about inability, it's about polite disinterest. As I stated in my original post, and have contributed since, I'd rather discuss the actual original question. It would be foolhardy to engage in debate over such assertions as whether or not I was "reading well," or nshadow was "pontificating with the expectation of cookies", etc. Interesting though that you feel the need to imply I'm somehow an intellectual chicken if that disinterests me.

Well, trouble with conversations is, they follow their own path and we sometimes end up discussing something said later in the thread, especially if the OP attempts to expand or clarify what they said and it terms out the original question was based upon their own misunderstanding. As it happens, there isn't much to discuss from the original post of this thread:


It appears not. I know sometimes movements are not defined until afterwards, but nevertheless I think Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Joyce, Dos Passos, etc. knew they were something special. Same with the Beat Generation of Ginsberg, Kerouac, Burroughs, Ferlinghetti, etc.

Yes, that's right. Unlike Art Movements which involve going down the pub and getting everybody to sign up to doing a certain thing, then exhibiting together, Literary Movements tend to occur more organically and plenty don't get named by their authors.

the 90's, you could say, had postmodernism, DeLillo, Pynchon, and co.

Yes, along with other things, but Postmodernism is far older than that and is still continuing today. See Will Self for a contemporary Postmodern author finding sucess.

So what is the defining charactertistic of 21st century literature. Are we so post-post-modernism that now we can't make heads or tails of anything we do, and maybe it doesn't matter? Sometimes there needs to be the perspective of distance, but we already have the New Weird (which I, obviously, know ALL about *shift eyes*), and one of the characteristics of 21 Century Literature have been these gigantic breakthrough novels which spawn a thousand imitators. I expect there will one day be a phrase coined for works like 50 Shades which are then followed very quickly into the shops by the near identical works with rip-off covers. Is another artistic movement even possible in this modern age? Yes, of course it is. There are always more ideas and advances in cultural thinking changes how we think about old ones - compare Dada to Neo-Dada (which then led on to later more well known movements like Fluxus).I'd like to think it is, but I'm starting to doubt.





This is a genre bender:

http://i.imgur.com/B7B2l.png

Well, now I don't know *what* to think. I can only assume this is a sign of the pending apocalypse.

Weirdmage
10-26-2012, 03:43 PM
Starting at the original question, and the restrictions imposed on that, I think the simple answer is; No!

In the last few years I have seen two "movements"/sub-genres hailed as "daring" and "groundbraking" in LitFic, and that is Slipstream and Fabulism.
Both of those have been met with derision from SFF* fans, and in some cases authors. The reason for that being Slipstream is basically Near Future Science Fiction, often with a dystopic leaning. And Fabulism is very much Fairy Tale inspired Fantasy. Since both of those sub-genres have existed for a long time in SFF, "daring" and "groundbraking" as terms to describe them has rightly been laughed off as either cluelessness or snobbery. (Snobbery as in not recognising what has gone before because it is genre.)

New Weird is an interesting suggestion. It certainly is the most Literary of the SFF sub-genres, and as such I think it is most likely to gain the approval of the "Literary Establishment".
Not that New Weird is especially groundbraking in any way. Apart from the Literary style it is written in, it doesn't really differ from the original Weird. At least that is my experience with it, but I'm not really an expert on New Weird.

When it comes to movements, I can only think of one that goes beyond the literary and into a wider artistic expression, and that is Steampunk.
Steampunk has been an established SFF sub-genre since the 1980s, but it looks to me that it has outgrown its literary origins since the millenium. Now you have movies, art, jewelry, costumes, and video games. And it looks to be holding on steadily, if not growing.
At least within SFF, I think Steampunk can be said to be a movement.

In general though SFF doesn't do "movements", instead it does sub-genres.
As with Slipstream and Fabulism, I think if you are looking for new movements/trends in LitFic you have to look at genre. I wouldn't be surprised if some sub-genre of genre fiction is usurped, renamed, and hailed as a new movement by LitFic circles in the future.

*I use SFF as a term for Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror. The reason for that is because Speculative Fiction isn't really popular, and there's still some Science Fiction fans who find the term demeaning because of its origin.

theDolphin
10-26-2012, 06:51 PM
A quote came my way recently that I think pertains to why defining literary movements, particularly those going on in the present, is so hard. The quote is actually from Claude Debussy:

"Works of art make rules; rules do not make works of art."

I guess the reason I find looking at them interesting, is that on the positive side, they suggest new possibilities for thinking about narrative and new directions for literature. Of course, on the negative side, their limitations often cause controversy, and can seem like pretensions.


When it comes to movements, I can only think of one that goes beyond the literary and into a wider artistic expression, and that is Steampunk.

Hadn't thought of steampunk, partially because it's origins were earlier, but you're right, that has moved well beyond the boundaries of literature at this point.

Slipstream, that you mentioned earlier in your post, is also a wierd one to look at because of the controversy over it. A lot people don't even consider it a genre, but a style. The people who are labeling stuff as slipstream today are taking stories from as far back as Kafka in the early 1900s.

Weirdmage
10-26-2012, 07:52 PM
Slipstream, that you mentioned earlier in your post, is also a wierd one to look at because of the controversy over it. A lot people don't even consider it a genre, but a style. The people who are labeling stuff as slipstream today are taking stories from as far back as Kafka in the early 1900s.

Most of what I know about Slipstream comes from a SFF viewpoint. And when you look at it from SFF, it's pretty clear that it's not really different from Literary Science Fiction, I would agree that the novels I have seen labelled as Slipstream are a style, and that style is Literary Science Fiction. Which is why many see Slipstream as a "snobby/elitist" way to avoid admitting it is really Science Fiction.
Quite a few people have labelled China Miéville as Slipstream, especially The City & The City, a book that some SFF fans feel should have won the Booker award.

I did try to read Kafka's The Trial years ago, but couldn't get through it because it bored me. I might try again. But I can see how that would be argued to be Slipstream, since it's been argued to be Science Fiction for years.

As an aside, I'd say the earliest* Literary Science Fiction novel I have read is Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon, and that was published in 1937. (I've reviewed it here: http://weirdmage.blogspot.no/2012/03/review-star-maker.html) I'm sure there's other examples of early Literary Science Fiction, probably some earlier than '37.

*Earliest after Science Fiction started as a genre, most people put that at 1926 (, I think it was '26 at least, could be '24).

eqb
10-26-2012, 08:54 PM
On the one hand, it would be nice to be chosen to be read in HS English courses, because of the wide readership exposure. On the other hand, I kind of cringe at the thought of someone being forced to read my work.

A high school teacher wrote to me once that she was including my short story Medusa at Morning in her syllabus. I settled on OMG STOKED for my reaction.

This was a 700 word story, first published in Strange Horizons, which critiquers said could not be real genre because it has l'terary overtones and besides fantasy couldn't include a reference to a propane stove.

Is it genre? Literary? I don't care. I wrote it because I had to, because that was the story I wanted to tell.

amergina
10-26-2012, 09:05 PM
besides fantasy couldn't include a reference to a propane stove*rips hair out* :gaah

eqb
10-26-2012, 09:31 PM
*rips hair out* :gaah

Yeah, I know. That was my reaction too.

I know where the comments came from--a deep-seated belief that fantasy cannot take place in modern times--but I also knew it was wrong for me and my story. Apparently the editors agreed.

Also, a local Greek radio show used my story for a broadcast. Not only did they ask permission, they interviewed me about my writing.

calieber
10-26-2012, 11:05 PM
Would I still be around to cash them?

College courses, maybe, but HS curricula tend to be a bit... slow... in picking up contemporary stuff.

I read Catcher in the Rye and One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest in ... middle school, actually, but I understand they're used at the HS level too. And Salinger and Kesey were still alive at the time. I'm pretty sure the same school -- a K-12 -- had All the King's Men in its HS curriculum in the 1980s.

Theo81
10-29-2012, 12:34 AM
A quote came my way recently that I think pertains to why defining literary movements, particularly those going on in the present, is so hard. The quote is actually from Claude Debussy:

"Works of art make rules; rules do not make works of art."

I guess the reason I find looking at them interesting, is that on the positive side, they suggest new possibilities for thinking about narrative and new directions for literature. Of course, on the negative side, their limitations often cause controversy, and can seem like pretensions.



Yet, art has increasingly become defined by rules. Dada poetry is "written" to very strict rules. However, art and literature are different things. Not all literature is art (art is usually best defined as something which exists only to be art).

I think it's difficult to see anything we're in the middle of - distance gives persepctive. Maybe in five years times we'll be talking about the upsurge in contemporary Jewish literature - or maybe I just happen to have read Nathan Englander, Shalom Auslander and Howard Jacobsen back-to-back. Maybe in ten years we'll begin to see a trend of novels to rival the Angry Young Men of the 50's, or a High Literary movement striking back at - what may be seen as - the saturation of amount self-published dross getting major publishing deals.

I think literary movements give us context in which to discuss something and that is why there will always be new ones. Books reflect the time in which they are written, be they genre or Litfic.

Also, I think pretension can be a deliberate and defining quality. Or maybe I'm getting my excuses in early. :)

theDolphin
10-29-2012, 01:48 AM
I think it's difficult to see anything we're in the middle of - distance gives persepctive. Maybe in five years times we'll be talking about the upsurge in contemporary Jewish literature - or maybe I just happen to have read Nathan Englander, Shalom Auslander and Howard Jacobsen back-to-back. Maybe in ten years we'll begin to see a trend of novels to rival the Angry Young Men of the 50's, or a High Literary movement striking back at - what may be seen as - the saturation of amount self-published dross getting major publishing deals.

I think literary movements give us context in which to discuss something and that is why there will always be new ones. Books reflect the time in which they are written, be they genre or Litfic.

Also, I think pretension can be a deliberate and defining quality. Or maybe I'm getting my excuses in early. :)

Haha very well put all around. :)

I agree about time giving us perspective and I love your speculation on the coming possibilities. And I still love looking at those movements already defined in the past, because I often find their efforts inspiring.

As to pretension being a deliberate and defining quality, I think that can definitely be true too. Interestingly, as I see it, it can go any number of ways:

the pretentious pretenders - those who pretend innovation and achieve only poor imitation

the pretentious pretentious - those whose efforts quickly become masturbatory and seem primarily there to serve their grandiosity.

and my personal favorite: the unpretentious pretentious - those who deem anyone trying to do something new or different stylistically are elitists to be scorned.

Man I sound so pretentious! hahahaha :tongue

LindaJeanne
10-29-2012, 04:33 AM
Imagine a group of people in 1912, debating what 20th Century literature was like, and how it differed from 19th Century literature -- based only on what existed by 1912. I'm sure such conversations happened.

ARoyce
10-29-2012, 04:57 AM
Sidestepping the whole literary/genre kerfuffle, one thing I think worth noting is that most, of not all, of the 19th and 20th century movements mentioned (like Romanticism, Modernism, the Harlem Renaissance, the Beat Generation) were composed mainly of writers who interacted rather heavily with each other with similar writerly goals. For instance, all the Modernists sought to "make it new," even though that meant different things to each of them. Harlem Renaissance authors sort of banded together to bring new respect to African American artistry and voices. In each of those movements, the writers tended to share their work with each other and get feedback, especially in light of their common literary goals. (It seems like almost every major writer in the Modernist era consulted Ezra Pound, even Robert Frost, who isn't generally a Modernist.)

With the advent of the Internet, it's become so much easier for writers of different genres and styles to interact...but I don't know if I've seen such group attempts to redefine what writing is in the 21st century the way these movements did.

I do think there are 21st trends...like more international voices and more blurring of genres.

theDolphin
10-29-2012, 05:39 AM
Sidestepping the whole literary/genre kerfuffle, one thing I think worth noting is that most, of not all, of the 19th and 20th century movements mentioned (like Romanticism, Modernism, the Harlem Renaissance, the Beat Generation) were composed mainly of writers who interacted rather heavily with each other with similar writerly goals. For instance, all the Modernists sought to "make it new," even though that meant different things to each of them. Harlem Renaissance authors sort of banded together to bring new respect to African American artistry and voices. In each of those movements, the writers tended to share their work with each other and get feedback, especially in light of their common literary goals. (It seems like almost every major writer in the Modernist era consulted Ezra Pound, even Robert Frost, who isn't generally a Modernist.)

With the advent of the Internet, it's become so much easier for writers of different genres and styles to interact...but I don't know if I've seen such group attempts to redefine what writing is in the 21st century the way these movements did.

I do think there are 21st trends...like more international voices and more blurring of genres.

Outstanding post. I quite agree. I was thinking along similar lines but couldn't quite articulate it, so thank you for voicing this. There was definitely a comaraderie in those efforts that doesn't seem to exist in quite the same way these days, although perhaps there are such movements afoot we're not aware of yet.

Also I do think international inclusion and genre-blurring are both current trends, as well as a distinct aversion to certain labels. Perhaps in combination with the new emphasis on individuation rather than collective, that will all prove to have comprised today's "movement" eventually.

theDolphin
11-02-2012, 06:44 PM
Hipsterism.

A movement based on friendlier relationships with parents but greater pessimism or angst that they will be able to separate from their parents like the previous generations. A greater involvement of kitsch and kitschy treatments of older issues.

Or something like that. I don't know.

I missed this post earlier. I wasn't entirely clear about the parent-child aspect of what you're talking about as it relates to literature (feel free to say more though) but the bit about kitchy treatments of older issues reminded me of the new penchant for mash-ups today: Sense and Sensability and Seamonsters, Jane Slayre, Mr. Darcy, Vampyre, etc, etc, etc.

The term originated in the music industry a while ago, but gained popularity in the fiction world around 2010. Now it's seems likely more young people are reading those than are reading the originals (a fact I admit I don't know the numbers on, but if it's true I find it distressing). At any rate, although I'm not a huge fan, that definitely seems to be something of a contemporary 'movement,' if we define a movement as a new direction in writing or way of looking at literature which attains a certain level of popularity.

Xelebes
11-02-2012, 07:53 PM
I missed this post earlier. I wasn't entirely clear about the parent-child aspect of what you're talking about as it relates to literature (feel free to say more though) but the bit about kitchy treatments of older issues reminded me of the new penchant for mash-ups today: Sense and Sensability and Seamonsters, Jane Slayre, Mr. Darcy, Vampyre, etc, etc, etc.

The term originated in the music industry a while ago, but gained popularity in the fiction world around 2010. Now it's seems likely more young people are reading those than are reading the originals (a fact I admit I don't know the numbers on, but if it's true I find it distressing). At any rate, although I'm not a huge fan, that definitely seems to be something of a contemporary 'movement,' if we define a movement as a new direction in writing or way of looking at literature which attains a certain level of popularity.

With that, I sense there is a bit of aggression towards hero-making whereby the subtle and nuanced making of a hero is mocked and made into caricatures. Think Don Quixote.

teacher
11-02-2012, 08:08 PM
The word, Literary, gets banded about like its a club whose members are from a narrow niche of society and who write in a certain way or genre. Man Booker Prize judges decide what they think is literary, which sadly, has no comparison to what the public thinks in terms of book sales.

I've read books which are absolute mince i.e. whose MC is extremely boring and whose plot is so dull that if the writer didn't belong to that clique of the so-called literary world, their books wouldn't see the light of day in the publishing industry. One judge many years ago threatened to quit the Booker Prize if Harry Potter won it. Considering that the book got kids reading and was very popular among them and adults alike, it should have won the Booker outright.

So I guess what I'm saying is, I don't trust any movement that bestows a grandiose name upon itself - that's for others to do.

theDolphin
11-04-2012, 04:27 PM
With that, I sense there is a bit of aggression towards hero-making whereby the subtle and nuanced making of a hero is mocked and made into caricatures. Think Don Quixote.

Actually, that goes along with something my husband and I were talking about the other day, just philosophically speaking. We know everything about everyone these days, and what we don't know often eventually comes to light. Think Lance Armstrong or Bill Clinton, Arnold Schwartzenneger, etc. Not to specifically disparage or debate the relative merits orf those particular gentlemen, but these kinds of things make us as a society more skeptical of heroes I think. The age of information has exponentially exploded our knowledge of the pitfalls of our 'heroes.' Hell, we also know things about our ancestral and historic heroes that standard elementary history didn't used to account for or pay much attention to.

If you add that to the fact that Gen X-ers first awareness of a president was Nixon's impeachment, followed by the Iran Contra scandal you now have a pretty cynical generation in their middle age prime, raising kids, etc.

My husband and I were wondering what it will/would take to be able to allow for the many human frailties that go along with anyone that we choose to set up as a hero these days. How do we balance the knowledge of whatever that weakness is that we find out about, with the good that person or those people are able to do? Anyway, perhaps the mash-ups of classics with horror stories, and the mockery and caricature making you're talking about are in some ways manifestations of that issue.

Laer Carroll
11-09-2012, 12:14 AM
I kind of cringe at the thought of someone being forced to read my work.

I positively DELIGHT in the thought of someone (other than me!) being forced to read your work.

SomethingOrOther
11-09-2012, 03:13 AM
I would love to be forced to read kuwi's work. He could tie me up with BDSM devices and shove the pages in my face and say, "You're a slutty little reader, aren't you?" for all I care. I have a web-crawling script that automatically says, "Yes! Yes, I'll read it!" whenever the words "kuwisdelu" and "beta" pop up together at any part in the internet, which has led to baffling non-sequiturs on the science forums on which he has discussed beta particles. And now that I think of it, it's never been attributed to me, so it just looks like a spambot, and spambots always seem to think that the novels they beta need more penis-enlargement pills or get-rich-quick schemes.

kuwisdelu
11-09-2012, 03:21 AM
I would love to be forced to read kuwi's work. He could tie me up with BDSM devices and shove the pages in my face and say, "You're a slutty little reader, aren't you?" for all I care. I have a web-crawling script that automatically says, "Yes! Yes, I'll read it!" whenever the words "kuwisdelu" and "beta" pop up together at any part in the internet, which has led to baffling non-sequiturs on the science forums on which he has discussed beta particles. And now that I think of it, it's never been attributed to me, so it just looks like a spambot, and spambots always seem to think that the novels they beta need more penis-enlargement pills or get-rich-quick schemes.

Not sure if serious...

It would be much easier to just ask ;)

LeslieB
11-09-2012, 07:21 AM
On the other hand, I kind of cringe at the thought of someone being forced to read my work.

I'm with you. The thought of some class dissecting my story and finding assorted teachery-type stuff that I didn't intend is more than a little unnerving.

That has happened in my fanfic, btw. A number of times I've had someone compliment me on wonderful symbolism, and I've thought, "There's symbolism in there? Um, why thank you, yes I'm brilliant."

calieber
11-09-2012, 11:29 PM
I'm with you. The thought of some class dissecting my story and finding assorted teachery-type stuff that I didn't intend is more than a little unnerving.

That has happened in my fanfic, btw. A number of times I've had someone compliment me on wonderful symbolism, and I've thought, "There's symbolism in there? Um, why thank you, yes I'm brilliant."

Right, just because you didn't intend it doesn't mean it's not there (though by the same token, just because someone sees it doesn't mean it is there).

kuwisdelu
11-09-2012, 11:58 PM
I'm with you. The thought of some class dissecting my story and finding assorted teachery-type stuff that I didn't intend is more than a little unnerving.

That has happened in my fanfic, btw. A number of times I've had someone compliment me on wonderful symbolism, and I've thought, "There's symbolism in there? Um, why thank you, yes I'm brilliant."

To the contrary, I love it when people find symbols and connections and meanings in my work that I didn't know were there.

I just know you can sometimes be biased against a book you're forced to read. If you don't want to read my stuff, I don't want you to be forced to.

But feel free to find things in my work I didn't know about. I love that. :)