Breaking news. Literary exhortation. Entertainments. And occasionally the arcane.
Friday, 3 April 2015
In an omnibus review of four works of fabulist writing, Zachariah Wells wonders if our fiction is sometimes too rational for its own good:
In a recent interview Molly Peacock, talking about her collection of unconventional fictions Alphabétique, says “we’re missing out on the fable. Literature that comes out of essential needs for identity is necessarily realist. But there’s a different tradition of literature that comes out of the play of imagination. Because fantasy traditions come out of folklore, folk tale, fairy tale, mythology, and what we think of as 'old culture.' I’m wondering: is Canadian culture old enough to make a literature of fantasy?”
Even if one bristles at the too-oft-repeated canard about the youth of Canadian culture, it's hard not to nod along with Peacock's main point. While Canadians have made top-calibre contributions to the canon of the short story, the heavy-hitters we think of immediately—Munro, MacLeod, Gallant—are famed for crafting stories that reflect plausible, “real life” dramas. Which is not to say that such stories could ever be written without bringing to bear “the play of imagination,” nor that such stories are not, in their way, stylized artifices. Rather, the conventions of the realistic short story do not typically permit acts of magic, surreal leaps, or oneiric weirdness.