There is a split in experimental fiction, it would seem, which is hardly a split: a duality which is hardly dual. Articulating it, in addition, will not add to or subtract from what I’m provisionally calling “experimental fiction.” I am not going out of my way to break open or unmask a binary which has, till now, subsisted in relative silence. The following is a brief and incomplete diagnosis–neither positive nor negative, or else both at once. Most importantly, perhaps, these are not two distinct regimes (again, a split which is hardly, or is not, a split). Nor should this be taken as a statement of fact, but as a condition which I’ve begun, more and more, to see in what I read.
1.) The University of Indiana’s main library sinks one inch per year. Why? The engineers forgot to calculate the weight of? [Go ahead, lovers, guess]
2.) Badass Pub Crawl in LA. What do you say to Aimee Bender while drunk? “Yo! Can I stumble into, vomit on every reviewer so lazy as to compare you to Ray Carver, Aimee? ? Can I be like your anklet monitor, Aimee? Just near you? I like the way you spell your name.” Crash.
3.) “true originality doesn’t exist anyway, only authenticity” Bullshit meter?
4.) An interview with Carole Maso (Brian Evenson on the inquiry machine). This is old, OK. “HTML is a blog, what is this old shit, yo?” Blah blah. Go lift weights in the shower, so you can sweat yourself and clean yourself simultaneously. Now you’re in the future. So chill-axe.
5.) This Heide Hatry shit is bloody and controversial so just be careful and don’t swoon on me. (We all know pigs are smarter than dogs [don’t get me started on cats] but pigs taste great, right?] Etc. Etc. Yawn. Slurp. Etc.
If you were teaching a class on American experimental fiction, what texts would you choose, and why?
My apologies to Jereme, who recently commented something along the lines of “htmlgiant is like a teacher’s lounge,” but since I spent the weekend putting together course proposals for next year, I thought I’d share one of the possible reading lists I devised for my “Introduction to American Experimental Fiction” course. You’ll notice that all of the selections are on the shorter side <300 pages. This is crucial, so that I can cover a bunch of different texts. Nothing is set in stone yet, so I would love to hear what you would add or subtract from this list, and why:
Ishmael Reed – Mumbo Jumbo
William S. Burroughs – The Soft Machine
Kathy Acker – Blood and Guts in High School
Carole Maso – Aureole
Jean Toomer – Cane
David Markson – This Is Not A Novel
Gertrude Stein – Tender Buttons
Ben Marcus – The Age of Wire and String
*As a bonus, my wife found this cool database of syllabi for American Lit courses from professors at various universities (including a Poetics syllabus from Susan Howe for a course on “Sexuality and Space in 17th – 19th Century American Literature.”