Junior Ganymede
We endeavor to give satisfaction

Foreign Literary Fiction Really Only Transnational.

June 30th, 2010 by G.

In a review of a collection of contemporary short stories from abroad:

“It is as if literary fiction didn’t so much reflect other cultures, obliging us to immerse ourselves in the exotic, but rather brought back news of shortcomings and injustices to an international community that could be relied upon to sympathize. These writers seem more like excellent foreign correspondents than foreigners. Across the globe, the literary frame of mind is growing more homogeneous. ”

This is how I feel about the Mormon literary fiction that I’ve read. ‘Literary’ is an identity and ‘Mormon’ is another. Truly synthesizing identities is an act of genius. Genius is sadly in short supply.

Comments (8)
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June 30th, 2010 17:09:48
8 comments

Wm Morris
June 30, 2010

What have you read, Adam?

I don’t disagree. In fact, I’ve expressed some dissatisfaction with this. See, for example the middlebrow discussion in this post on the radical middle — the middle as well as the radical middle — the radical.

It’ll be interesting to see if I capture anyone’s imagination with my entry to the Irreantum fiction contest, which is both insistently genre and literary and not really in tune with the New Yorker/MFA-style stories that have won the past few years (which I still enjoy in certain doses).


Vader
June 30, 2010

We are still looking for our Chaim Potok.


Wm Morris
July 2, 2010

Perhaps this is an unrealistic hope, but I hope we can do better than our Chaim Potok. His work was not welcomed by much of his home community, and, apparently, he gets some things wrong in how he portrays the non-heretical side of the story. I’m not finding the specific online conversation I had with an Orthodox Jew about his work so I’m afraid I don’t have a reference, but, depending on what we’re looking for, neither Potok nor Flannery O’Connor (another name that gets brought up rather often in this context) are perfect role models — even though I very much enjoy their work.

But I also have to ask you too, Vader — what have you read?


Vader
July 3, 2010

I confess my experience is limited to Orson Scott Card and Jack Weyland.

I was much impressed with OSC’s Ender books, but I would not describe them as Mormon fiction. His Alvin Maker series was much less impressive to me.

I shouldn’t need to elaborate on my reaction to Weyland.

I’ve occasionally picked up stuff by other LDS fiction authors, but found reason to put it down quickly enough that the titles and authors have not stuck in my mind.

To tell the truth, I read very little fiction nowadays. The older I get, the less patient I am with it, and the more inclined to read nonfiction.


Wm Morris
July 3, 2010

I don’t know that there is anything absolutely worth checking out that I would recommend right now, but I think we’re getting there, especially in the spaces between genre and literary fiction and with some of the experimental stuff that is in dialog with scripture.


Bookslinger
July 6, 2010

Vader, I’m with you. The older I got, the less interested I became in fiction. Now, I have essentially no interest in reading fiction, unless it’s a classic of importance or significance.

As far as reading written stories, I much prefer history now. A general ignorance of history, both ancient and modern seems to pervade, and as the saying goes, is now seen to doom us to repeating some of the same mistakes. History as recent as WWII and the aftermath, and the cold-war.

Recent presidents seem to have forgotten the lessons of Vietnam. Our current president seems to have forgotten the lesson of appeasement from Neville Chamberlain. Modern liberals seems to have forgotten the lessons of 20th century socialism and communism.

The general assumption that Hitler was the number one mass-murderer of the 20th century still irks me. (Stalin and Mao Tse-Tung ecclipsed him.)

As far as reading stories of high adventure, there are plenty of stories from WWII, Korea and Vietnam. I finally swore off reading general fiction while reading a 25-30 year old book of stories from WWII.

The political nature of mankind can be learned by reading about the rise and fall of other empires, and their history in both peace and war.


Bookslinger
July 6, 2010

God’s Smuggler“, the (supposedly true) story of smuggling Bibles across the Iron Curtain, by “Brother Andrew” has inspired me since my youth.


Bookslinger
July 6, 2010

Please forgive another plug for a (supposedly) true high-adventure book, “The Winking Fox“, the story of a WWII spy, Rene J. Defourneaux, resident of Indianapolis. He was a spy behind enemy lines in both Europe and the Asian theater.

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