Every insurrection requires leadership and drive. In storming the citadel of Establishment Literary Fiction, Lee Rourke has, over the past two or three years, emerged as the V.I. Lenin of the literary underground. As the editor of Scarecrow he has both set out a manifesto and passionately and enthusiastically promoted a very diverse range of writers from the margins of our culture. We are no longer in the realm of Martin and Julian and Ian but in a bleaker, less consoling place. Stewart Home, Ann Quin, Noah Cicero, Tom McCarthy. And many, many others. An alternative geography of literature to the ones in the corporate supplements, the corporate review pages.
T'was I who first coined the phrase Establishment Literary Fiction and I'll be writing more here on the blog, and elsewhere, about what I consider it to be very soon. But I just wanted to note, today, that by deriding most current literary fiction as merely a particular brand of genre fiction, I wasn't suggesting that the remedy for this was something one might call "anti-Establishment Literary Fiction."
Novels/short-story collections are churned out in their tens of thousands each year. The antidote to this excess of mediocrity is art. It is artistry that is lacking in so very much of what is pumped out today, and being anti-corporate is no guarantee that what you are writing is not going to simply be an inverted form of Establishment Literary Fiction itself.