Thursday, October 20, 2005

Russell Smith on the silence when it comes to experimental fiction in Canada (use the Google back door):
The thing is, we don't really have schools of writing here.

Any differences of opinion about valued storytellers tend to centre on setting and theme: how to define what is truly national; are urban settings as authentic or representative as rural ones? Experimental writing isn't even in it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I suppose it depends on how one defines "experimental" fiction, but it's arguable that what Russell Smith is talking about is not a sign that we're less sophisticated than the Americans but that we're more so ... that the "mainstream" of prose in Canada is already relatively more open to experimental styles and techniques, and therefore there's less to fuss about. (I would not say the same was true of poetry, before anyone asks).

Of course I tend to think that most of these commotions (like the piece on Franzen that he mentions, or Jonathan Lethem's recent attack on the "mainstream" for allegedly despising fantastical elements due to some odd kind of class war) are wildly oversimplified anyway, and mostly about either axe-grinding, or someone trying to come up with a few thousand works of freelance work so they can make a bit of money.

-- maggie

2:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A few thousand words of freelance work, that'd be

-- mh

2:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The way I see it, Canadians are so damned conservative. Have you been inside a university lately? Open debate doesn't occur. It's curious, really.

As a 40 year old person who returned to school recently, I'm shocked. I asked some questions of the students and came away feeling they didn't know how to debate. When someone actually verbalizes something faintly oppositional, you can hear the collective gasp in the room. I liked it better when everyone was full of shit and shared.

It's hard enough to get something published in Canada with this regional business going on. I live on the prairies. God forbid I write a piece that doesn't have a gas station in it!

80% of Canadians live in an urban setting. That should solve this regional preoccupation once and for all.

12:20 PM  
Blogger Weldon Gardner Hunter said...

Frank O'Hara, you can move to Canada now! Except you're dead ...

12:38 PM  
Blogger dfb said...

isn't regionalism just a marketing tool used by the cbc and the other lit experts (includiing r smith, and every small press who lives off the grants (and the writers who do that too)).

and look at his example of "experimental".

maybe when writers stop looking for their reflection in the media
they might start to get some where

don’t worry the avant garde will not be reported


2:10 PM  
Blogger Brenda Schmidt said...

I attended a Fred Wah session on the prairies last weekend. A dfb poem called "This Is Where We'd Work" was one of the works discussed.

Sorry for always straying off topic...

6:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the revolution wasn't/isn't televised. Or reported in the Globe (where Smith's article appeared.) The debate is centred on issues of "regionalism" and a narrow band of other concerns due to the highly selective vision of the Globe, the CBC, and other media whose job is pupportedly (but it isn't really) to examine what is interesting or significant.

-Gary (whose only mention in the Globe ever was as a "master of incoherent urban paranoia", but it wasn't true, I'm no master.)

10:42 AM  

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