Wednesday, October 11, 2006

New Wave Fabulists: "Make It Weird"

If you know me, if you've read this blog for a couple months or so, you know I do so like fiction of the fabulous and the weird.

Well, thanks to Mick Silva for a link to this article in the Boston Globe: Make It Weird.

A subdued group of middle-aged friends sits around a table over cards and beer. They're benumbed by their jobs and uninterested in their dusty, adulterous marriages. They're tired; they have no secrets between them. They decide to call a phone-sex line, where the seductive voice on the other end spins a yarn about the devil and a cheerleader. And then the cheerleader herself unravels a tale--weirder than the one she's in--about clones and potions and imminent alien visitations and a troubled husband and wife. And then the husband starts telling a story about a time machine...

Welcome to ``Lull," the story that closes Kelly Link's collection MAGIC FOR BEGINNERS and, with its potent blend of the supernatural and the everyday, might just encapsulate one of the most fertile literary movements of recent years

And this tidbit from Wikipedia:

Slipstream is a kind of fiction that crosses conventional genre boundaries and doesn't sit comfortably within the confines of either science fiction/fantasy or mainstream literary fiction.

The term slipstream was coined by cyberpunk author Bruce Sterling in an article originally published in SF Eye #5, July 1989. He says in part: "...this is a kind of writing which simply makes you feel very strange; the way that living in the twentieth century makes you feel, if you are a person of a certain sensibility." Slipstream fiction has consequently been referred to as "the fiction of strangeness," which is as clear a definition as any others in wide use.

Slipstream falls into the gap between speculative fiction and mainstream fiction. While some slipstream novels employ elements of science fiction or fantasy, not all do. The common unifying factor of these pieces of literature is some degree of the surreal, the not-entirely-real, or the markedly anti-real.

That's about as clear as you're gonna get.

The subject is not new to those who follow SF trends and terminology. It might be new to mainstream or out of the SF genre folks. Anyone who's been following SF awards for the last year is familiar with the name Kelly Link. She was named a couple years ago by the illustrious Gene Wolfe as one of the more talented new writers in SF. (And that is not praise to sneeze at, I tell ya.)

You can read one of Kelly's stories, a Hugo winner, FREE online: The Faery Handbag.

I grew up in a family to which unusual, one might even say supernatural, things happened. We simply would not be allowed to be atheists by stories mother and father and aunt and cousin and brother and sisters told and (if alive still) tell. Secular humanism can't thrive in my brain considering the things that befell me growing up, things that could not be so easily or adequately explained via natural causes or any of the quiet ruminations of my INTJ mind.

Link's ground isn't that new. Borges. Allende. Garcia-Marquez. Lots of Latinos have comfortably dwelled in that strange and shining spot where literary fiction's grassland is watered by the streams of fantasy. And yeah, the wonderful New Wave SF authors built cottages there.

Interesting that Link's works are optioned for film. I remember back when I bought her first collection--Stranger Things Happen--how the talk was that she couldn't be commercial, cause she was just to hard to classify, too odd. Even for an odd genre.

Hah. The slipstream/fabulists may have the last laugh.

Check out this and this for more on this hard to define, difficult to keep-inside-the-coloring-lines genre (subgenre?).

And if you like to support SF zines, consider that Kelly Link and hubby Gavin J. Grant edit/publish Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet

And while I didn't buy the novel cause Doctorow said something that ticked the Mir off, so the Mir refused to add to his income (at least until the Mir stops holding a grudge), I can't resist the delicious weirdness of his recent novel's family set-up:

``Readers will project their own interpretation of why his father is a mountain and his mother is a washing machine," Doctorow explains matter-of-factly. ``It's not necessarily subject to rational interrogation. I've heard lots of critical opinions; I have my own and they change from day to day."

More like slippery-stream, if you ask me.

1 comment:

brotherlud said...

Wow, it got a little wierd as I read the last half of this post. I too came from a family that was oddly steeped in supernatural events as I grew up. Nothing earth shattering, but then again, many things that make you scratch your head and wonder how it could be explained by more mundane means. We had both elements present: a positive, benificient force that interceeded in a variety of ways during some very harrowing times, and a grandmother that, according to some family lore, dabbled in witchcraft and other things and around whom dark events gathered, lingererd and eventually wove their own ominous tale.

Then I read that you too were an INTJ and I about fell out of my seat. How interesting is that? Make me wonder if there is something about this 'type' of upbringing that can lead to this type of personality.

Anyway, I had to share. Too cool.