Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Short Fiction... where is the future?

This is in part a response to comments left to my post on The Aesthetics of Process.

Maybe there's something here about short stories. Novels have their several conventions...but there are writers pushing those conventions into new territories. Even when I read a novel, more or less within some conventional mode, I have in mind novels that have done more... or other, and this affects how I read and judge them. I can be comfortable with accepting that a novel is very good for what it seeks to be... but with short stories... it's a different story.

It's as though everything I read.. maybe since Dennis Johnson's Jesus's Son, belongs to some niche, an artifact of the past. It may be excellent for what it is... but always awakes in me a hope for something else.

I don't want this form to die. To die out. But if writers keep writing variations on a theme... how much of Chagal redoing Chagal can one take?

That leaves me more critical, more likely to be disappointed...even by stories I know to be very good, powerful, well crafted...la la la

It reminds me of revivalist music... whether of the folk and traditional variety, or performance groups playing on period instruments... Baroque, Renaissance, Medieval. Reproducing the forms... beautifully... but it's dead... until some performance group violates the purity and marries the form to something new, making you hear again both old and new... anew.

I don't want to review a Baroque revival performance.

I want music.

I want short fiction that ravishes me as only the willfully contemporary can.

I love Bach... more than anything humanly created, I love Bach.

But at the Philly Bar and Grill... a local venue for indy bands and musicians... I can be transported by music, that while it will never last past this generation... revives my belief in the possibilities of music... and makes it possible to go back and listen to Bach, not as an historical artifact, but as part of a continuum.

That's what I want in a short story. A story that in no way resembles--or necessarily matches Checkoff, or Joyce... but reawakens me to what is yet possible, and renews my reading of Joyce and checkoff... not as historical artifacts, but still, and always... as forever my contemporaries

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