Thursday, June 2, 2011


Just finished reading Starcherone Books’ latest—30 Under 30: An Anthology of Innovative Fiction by Younger Writers, edited by Blake Butler and Lily Hoang.

What Butler and Hoang have strung together counter-intuitively reveals these “younger” writers as not young, but old, not inexperienced, but wizened, by the raw force of daily life surging through, over and around them, whether it’s in digital, mechanistic or ideated form[s].

I particularly liked the selections by Danielle Adaire, Todd Seabrook, Beth Couture, Angi Becker Stevens, Matt Bell, Joanna Ruocco [winner of FC2’s Catherine Doctorow Innovative Fiction Prize for Another Governess/The Least Blacksmith - A Diptych—a book I look forward to reading], James Yeh, Megan Milks, Michael Stewart, Sean Kilpatrick and Adam Good.

I’m heartened by the apparent fact that so many talented writers were born in the Reagan years—an otherwise horrific period for the arts in America.

I’ll have more to say on this book later, when I finish a rather lengthy review comparing and contrasting it with editor Larry McCaffery’s Avant-Pop: Fiction For A Daydream Nation [Black Ice], and another Starcherone offering PP/FF: an anthology, edited by Peter Connors.

At the moment, I’m thinking of a chaotic progression from Avant-Pop’s 1993 concerns with sex/AIDS/identity/freedom, to 2006’s PP/FF, which navigates streams of words flowing between poetry and fiction, poem and prose, occupying a world of homeland security, global warming and peak everything. Some of the same writers who appear in Avant-Pop also appear in PP/FF.

Among the questions I may or may not ask in this longer review are how well these “younger” writers “stack up” against their “older” peers and how, or if, the newcomers’ innovations point to a new beginning for fiction on paper…and what they may have done with yesterday’s baby and bathwater?

I might also consider the function of editors in such compilations, comparing-contrasting Butler & Hoang’s apparent results to McCaffery’s and Conners’, as I see the former taking a very different approach from the latter two.

Please feel free to share your opinion[s] on any of these three books with everyone by commenting below.

And, as always, cheers!

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