I’m in a class this semester–my last semester, thank goodness, jeez–on experimental fiction. Experimental fiction as in, you know, writing that doesn’t adhere to certain “normative structures” and refuses, essentially, to meet the demands a reader might place on the text.
You wanted a linear reading experience? Too bad!
You were looking for significant and detailed plot points and characterization? Bummer!
You want something comfortable and familiar? Barkin’ up the wrong tree, friend!
It’s been…interesting, to say the least.
I’m a person who was always into reading. You know that one kid in class who sat in the back of the classroom and read books tucked into her math textbook and always finished the required reading assignments during the summer. I was that kid. I think it’s safe to say that, in this wide, wide world of the internet, I am not alone, here.
So, when I read, I usually try to find something that I can dive into easily, that takes me to my happy place…not something that disrupts all that for the sake of, well, innovation. I get it, I think, what the appeal of reading books like The Activist or Cyclonopedia might be…but maybe I don’t. My instructor says he can’t read a book, or that he hates to read a book, that doesn’t make him feel frustrated, uncomfortable, or disoriented the entire time. We are not the same people, my professor and I…and I think it has to do with the fact that his experience as a young reader is pretty much the opposite of mine.
He got into reading because he became obsessed, apparently, with Jim Morrison, and so the first books he spent were gathered from a compiled list of every book ol’ J.M. had ever been influenced by. His whole initial approach to reading was research-oriented and expository…by no means was he the escapist I’ve always been.
I don’t know if that’s the reason he’s drawn to experimental writing, but I do know that I’m really getting a kick out of reading Silence of the Lambs, a perfect foil to the books I just mentioned (both of which are wildly experimental and very cool, but difficult to approach and navigate) and incredibly poorly written, if my teachers have anything to say about the subject. I’m not saying it’s high art, but it’s a fun, casual foray into serial killer pop culture, circa 1988.