The & Now Awards: The Best Innovative Writing 2009

Wednesday, March 7, 2012 § 0

American Innovative Writing: Avant Garde Meta/fictional Poetics from & Now 2009

A Book Review by 
David Detrich

The & Now Awards: The Best Innovative Writing (2009) edited by Robert Archambeau, Davis Schneiderman, and Steve Tomasula is everything you hoped it might be, a collection of works from the new generation of innovative fiction writers who approach the avant garde text from a multiplicity of esthetic perspectives. From writing with a space age wisdom, to esthetic theories evolving from science fiction, these innovative stories represent a trend away from the realistic fiction of the past, towards an individualistic style of narration: even with an infinity of multiple perspectives. The & Now Awards: The Best of Innovative Writing includes works which use graphic design to create a sense of visuality, and avant garde texts which represent the fine art of fiction writing with the use of poetic abstraction, these award winning innovative stories and poems show a 21st Century trend away from traditional storytelling towards a creative narrative style.

Steve Tomasula writes in And Now & Now: a foreward that fiction should evolve as an artform modeled on the reality, or surreality, of the events around us, perceived as a structure that is evolving alongside the events that make up the meta/text: the summation of current developments in art and culture.

...we might wonder as did Robbe-Grillet, why the forms of literature should remain "fixed, when everything around it" is "in evolution even revolution."
                                                           And Now & Now: 
                                                           a foreward
                                                           Steve Tomasula

Lance Olsen has written a short story that uses multiple points-of-view with a large number of characters described by the omniscient narrator in News Feed | Status Updates | Photos | Posted Items | Live Feed, an innovative text that has evolved in a parallel line from the narrative strategies of the modern innovators into an infinite meta/perspective.

Dennis is knee deep in teleology. Anna is going running despite what the weather has in mind. David Pederson is packing. Daniel soothes crying babies—until he walks out of the room and they start crying again. Abbie believes there should be a word (Anglo-Saxonish in rootage, naturally) meaning "nostalgic for the land of colors."
                                                        News Feed | Status 
                                                        Updates Photos | 
                                                        Posted Items | Live Feed
                                                        Lance Olsen

The abstraction of the poetic prose of Carla Harryman found in the avant garde text the opposite of slackness / Orgasms is a step beyond the unpunctuated prose of Jean Arp, Pablo Picasso, and Joan Miró, who developed the polysemantic approach to the sentence structure, and as we read the meaning gradually emerges as if from an abstract canvas where one might find a "violet storm," or "scribble which ways blacking."

spot smear spot squashed stadium clinging pillar out hear a-rear basting let low lyric violet storm

loaned honey nothing doing behind gravy train evil fell to slow entrance gained a billow in the random rain

...hording hot snow ocean bosses suds scribble which ways blacking 

the opposite of slackness
                                                           Carla Harryman

When reading through The & Now Awards: The Best Innovative Writing I am looking for the perfect blend of abstraction and readability: this ratio is what creates a pleasurable esthetic appreciation for the avant garde text, the feminist text written as critifiction, and the concrete poem. Carla Harryman has written the opposite of slackness / Orgasms in the context of the theoretical novel with an analysis of the writings of Theodor W. Adorno, who is known for critical essays including Aesthetic Theory (1970). Carla Harryman's poem/essay is an analysis of Adorno's Siren's Song (2006) by Rebecca Comay, creating the theoretical avant garde text that the writers of the literary journal How2 are exploring with critical essays which encourage a sophisticated esthetic approach to innovative writing.

Some of the short story writers in The & Now Awards: The Best Innovative Writing seem to be gifted storytellers, and from the first word will impress the reader with a logical narrative development that is convincing, and converts the reader to a dedicated fan: Joe Amato in Tango, Lidia Yuknavitch in The Photographer, Michael Joyce and Alexandra Grant in Nimbus, Ted Pelton in Woodchuck and Hank Williams Zombie, Teresa Carmody from Eye Hole Adore, Jay Wexler in E=MC3, Simone Muench from "Orange Girl Suite," and Carol Novack from In The Beginning Is are the outstanding talent: the new generation of innovators.

Recently the Arkansas writer Robin Becker appeared in a Holloween costume as a zombie, and she has written the short story How I Ate My Wife, a macabre tale of an out-of-body experience.

Bear in mind, this is a zombie talkinga supernatural being. What do I know? I might not even be real. 
Oh, ontology.
Regardless of religion or science, there I was, floating near the ceiling and at peace with the girly music of the spheres turned into Norwegian death metal and I was ripped away from the fuzzy blankets of cloudland and confronted with demons and devils and a descent into hell... Munch's The Scream was there, the painted man's hand on the side of the face. 
                                                           How I Ate my Wife
                                                           Robin Becker

Steve Katz has written a manifesto on the new genre of DYSFICTION, which is a form of ancient futurism freeing the mind from the "window tales" at the avant garde scene of writing, and developing the theme of the anti-narrative: a freer form of novelistic writing that the American innovators have affirmed since the Abstract Expressionism of the late 20th Century, which evolved away from realistic representation in favor of the painterly abstraction found in the self-conscious brush stroke, which when expressed in sentence structures has created a meta(fict)ional approach to the innovative novel.

DYSFIC is evocative, incantatory, ecstatic           not the image in the mirror nor the scene through the window the work is to smash the mirror shatter the glass as they distort DYSFICTIONS are anti-narrative       they are dysfunctional, dysrational, dysengaged 
                                                           Manifesto Dysfic
                                                           Steve Katz

The & Now Awards: The Best Innovative Writing is a collection of avant garde texts that suggest the esthetic equation: abstraction/narrative logic = intelligibility, where the mind perceives with esthetic pleasure the abstraction of events into the storyline, and the narrative charm will draw in the prospective reader who may wish to consider a proposition/proposal of what is considered predictable in the avant garde text. Therefore The & Now Awards: The Best Innovative Writing is worth the investment of time and energy to learn who the bright young stars are ascending in the sky blue genre of innovative fiction.

David Detrich lives in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where he has just completed The Convergence of Two Narrative Lines Ascending, an ultramodern Surrealist novel written in minimal squares. This year he is working on Dream the Presence of the Circular Breast Starfish Topography, a monumental Surrealist novel written with innovative typographical design. His first novel Big Sur Marvels & Wondrous Delights (2001) is available from Amazon. He is the editor of Innovative Fiction Magazine and Surrealist Star Clustered Illuminations.

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