Friday, October 3, 2008

Something's Missing

The "new" short fiction does not impress me like the "classics". The classics deserve their title; they masterfully play with character relationships, suspense, and story structures. Whereas in contrast, I feel like all of the new fiction lacks substance. Each holds entertainment value but seems to fail at claiming substantial literary value. For example, "7C" won an award for being Poe-like, but that's just the problem it's Poe-like--not even as good as Poe and not original. "Happy Endings" contains comical elements, but the final paragraph's hammering home of death seemed inconsistent. Yet, Joyce's "The Dead" builds beautiful imagery and character relationships while moving the plot to a dismal realization of one's imposing death; but nonetheless, the story subtly encourages one to live life to the fullest--not to be a Gabriel. Just describing the story (and not doing it justice) demonstrates its richness. The new authors experiment (hints the genre) with numerous literary elements, but none succeed in finding the right mix. But, maybe this is their problem. I doubt anyone told Joyce to write like Joyce, nor Hemingway to write like Hemingway; also, I bet neither wrote with a desire to win the favor of critics. I'm not making an acqusation, but I am saying I would struggle to find a distinct style in the last week's readings. "Tits Up in a Ditch" had the most "wow" value because of its elements of social realism and character relationships, which may be the beginning of this author's trademark. Overall, short fiction as a genre continues to impress me with its succintness, but the new genre has yet to give me a new favorite.

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