Friday, July 27, 2007

The New Weird Genre

Jeffrey Ford has a blog entry on Ann and Jeff VanderMeer's new anthology, The New Weird. While he doesn't mention any specific stories in the book, he does talk about the included works, and how they're different from the norm:
I have to say, although I’ve been at times, in the perceptions of others, associated with this movement? concept? what would you call it? I really still have no idea exactly what it means or is. There are a few things I’m pretty sure about, but these could also be wrong, so please correct me if you know better. I believe the term was coined by China Mieville to describe his own fiction. And I know that one of its precepts is the refusal to “break the fourth wall.” What I’ve taken this to mean (and here I may already be in over my head) is that it refuses metafictional devices, self-referential devices, a certain inherent cynicism about the fictional world. In other words, Mieville’s writing is not hedging its bets, but forthrightly presenting a fictional world that the reader can, for at least the time it takes to read the work, put full stock in. I think the desired effect is that it would allow the fiction to retain its vitality and not have it mitigated by an authorial wink or smirk or misdirection that might allow reality to poke holes in it and let that energy seep out. If that’s the case, then I think Mieville was to a large degree successful, because Perdido Street Station, The Scar, and Iron Council were marked for me as a reader by their vitality, their incredible energy of creation both in image and idea. To add to that, I recall M. John Harrisson making the case that The New Weird would be a useful marketing tool, a label that might distinguish this fiction from among all the other fantastical fiction out there – a way for readers to locate it in the book store and a kind of slogan that could guide publishers in the marketing of these works.

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