Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Jumping up and down on the fantasy bandwagon

In the Wall Street Journal, Alexandra Alter says that literary authors are "jump[ing] on the fantasy bandwagon" this summer. All manner of highbrows are now writing about werewolves, zombies, ghosts, and robots, and evidently raking in the cash. Some of us have in fact been riding this very bandwagon for years, hopping up and down and waving our arms; but if this "new" trend means that novels about domed cities, crackpot marketing schemes, the Apocalypse, Bigfoot, and kind-of-magical babies are now hip--and lucrative--then I am all for it. Have I mentioned that my novel is about a domed city, a crackpot marketing scheme, the Apocalypse, Bigfoot, and a kind-of-magical baby? And celebrities? OK, just checking.

Apart from yapping after the accelerating Audi of mainstream success, I suspect these literary authors are also taking post-post modernism in another, logical direction. Those who are congenitally suspicious of "realism" may be getting tired of self-consciously playing around with figurative language--with clouding the lens, as it were. (Though not me, God knows.) Entering the imagined worlds normally reserved for science fiction and fantasy is another way of saying, "What do you mean, 'represent reality'? No, really, what do you mean?" Probably more readers will enjoy this second way of asking the question.

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