“One can create challenging writing in a vacuum . . .”

The excellent Lance Olsen on his new book, Architectures of Possibility, sort of a primer on experimental writing:

But I think it’s fair to say that innovative and experimental usually refer to a narrativity that includes a self-reflective awareness of and engagement with theoretical inquiry, concerns, and obsessions, as well as a sense of being in conversation with fiction across space and time. One can create challenging writing in a vacuum; it has to challenge in relation to something. So contemporary writers interested in the subject are not only in pursuit of the innovative, but are also always-already writing subsequent to it—writing, that is, in its long wake.

Architectures of Possibility conceives of creativity as a possibility space, a locale just outside our comfort zones where we can and should take multiple chances in order to imagine in new ways, explore fresh strategies for finding and cultivating ideas, re-view what it is we’re doing and why, better understand what Samuel Beckett meant when he wrote: “Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” It reminds us that there are other ways of narrating our worlds and ourselves than those we have inherited from the entertainment industry, the government, academia, previous writing, and so on.

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Sounds like this should read “One CANNOT create challenging writing in a vacuum; it has to challenge in relation to something.” No?


The Surrender is Veronica Scott Esposito’s “collection of facts” concerning how she embraced her true gender.


Two long essays of 10,000 words each on sex in—and out of—literature . . .

The first essay dives in to Nicholson Baker’s “sex trilogy,” explaining just what Baker is up to here and why these books ultimately fail to be as sexy as Baker might wish.

From there the book moves on to the second essay, which explains just why Spaniard Javier Marías does right what Baker does wrong . . .


5 essays. 2 interviews.

All in all, over 25,000 words of Latin American literary goodness.

3 never-before-published essays, including “The Digression”—a 4,000-word piece on the most important digression in César Aira’s career.

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