Britain's first book blogger (November 2000)

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Spurious disengagement

Spurious attempts a 'reading biography':
I read, now, in response to what fascinated me in the interval into which reading, meaning seemed to plunge. It was books in which I'd find that same plunging that I sought - books as they were ringed around a waterfall, the fall of reading into itself.
I am comfortable in the company of such mannered obliqueness. Colm Toibin says we read Henry James because he was "not given to frankness or indisputability" and I read Spurious because of a corresponding disengagement. You won't find "debate" here - what really should not be called debate but the received rhetoric of the herd. But this time disengagement is mentioned explicitly: "there is the surprise" he writes "that I would never involve myself in the clash between what is called literary and what is called genre fiction". Of course, I'm disappointed, but disappointment is disingenuous as Spurious' post merely reverses into the clash. Nor would he "feel a proud vindication, seeing Ballard revered, or Dick; or Crowley receiving his due, or Wolfe" because (it is clear) genre is not the purpose of his reading. His reading is thereby literary. This is as much as should be said. But I have to go on. All works form a genre in coming into existence. Vindication would both justify and remove that genre's worth. Otherwise all works of genre are vindicated and the particular erased. Resistance to genre marks the literary. Hence perhaps Spurious's recognition that many of his admired authors
have a small pallette of concerns, of moods, of characterisation, of plot. A small palette, painting dark grey on black - but that is enough, for it is in the wearing away of plot, of character, in the exacerbation of mood that I find I can discover [a] kind of non-reading, the inward waterfall that draws me to its edge.

2 comments:

  1. You say, "resistance to genre marks the literary". Surely you do not mean to be exhaustive here, I realize, but there is something very timid in the direction of this line of thinking. As there is in Spurious' whole non-style style of writing. Aren't genres always just spin-offs of the literature that preceded them? For all of Spurious' elegant postering on the edge of reflection, he always ends up with some flat metaphor. An "inward waterfall" indeed. That's a waterfall that doesn't really fall, nor have water; unless you are getting sick, maybe. That's bad poetry, to which we are all susceptible; and bad poetry is the most popular genre of all.

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  2. What isn't a timid direction of thought in this case? It's a shame you don't offer one. But no, I suspect genre isn't a spin-off, just a flattening of literature. Perhaps timidity too.

    And yes, we're all susceptible to bad poetry. You've convinced me. Thanks.

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