Read Userlands: New Fiction Writers from the Blogging Underground by Dennis Cooper Free Online
Book Title: Userlands: New Fiction Writers from the Blogging Underground|
The author of the book: Dennis Cooper
Edition: Akashic Books
The size of the: 499 KB
City - Country: No data
Loaded: 1946 times
Reader ratings: 6.7
Date of issue: January 1st 2007
ISBN 13: 9781933354156
Format files: PDF
Read full description of the books:
If you think the adjectives gentrified, conservative, and economics-driven describe Dennis Cooper, writer and editor of the 2007 anthology of blogging fiction Userlands, or any of his books, you are dead wrong. Or, you have him confused with someone else, maybe that Bradley Cooper of the silver screen. But if you agree with him that those words characterize most contemporary American fiction, then this anthology may just be your tumbler of mescaline.
Fresh, innovative, frequently dark, and sometimes shocking (depending on your particular shockability), the adventurous fictions in this collection counterpoint the groomed, mannered, and well-heeled stories typically published in places like The Atlantic and The New Yorker. Imagine, for instance, the first line from Garrison Taylor’s “Fantastic, Made of Plastic” appearing downwind of ‘Talk of the Town’: “Kate blows her boyfriend with the hope he’ll stop crying”
...or the stunning opening from Nicholas Messig’s “You’re in My Blood Now”: “I miss your blue hair, plastic penis wrapped up like a baby.”
Honey, we’re not in the Hamptons anymore.
Which is a good thing. Such daring is a needed jolt to the murmuring EKGs of much mainstream fiction. But to say the only worth these fictions hold is shock value is to read them cursorily, to miss the bleeding point. There is also bold experimentation on display here, both innovation and playfulness that question the conventions of contemporary writing while calling attention to the web as a domain for creativity. (See, for instance, Jack Shamama’s “Spatial Devices Can Take Any Form: #2 in the Unproduceable Porn Script Series.”)
Such genre boundary-bending also serves as a good home for the identity exploration frequently bared here, as in my favorite piece in the anthology, Bett Williams’ “Crossroad Blues”: “But I am a man too, sort of, so I met him back with my handy distorted guitar sound. I engaged my fragments, my other floating bodies, pulled them down like puppet balloons on a string, my family of twisted genders ready for the show. We both had to do a bit of work, but there we were. I softened my eyes. That was how my real man came out anyway. Vulnerability is an old trick.” Maybe not all the fictions in this collection match Williams’ quality—unevenness runs through and throughout much of the work—but quality is the wrong compass for navigating this landscape of alternative fiction. For quality is an external measurement, and these writers, loosely-bound in this volume, are clearly seeing from within. There is light in their words, energy. And if they aspire, it is to the forceful expression of personal truths, as Cooper explains in his introduction, not some scale of the literary establishment. What we are offered here, then, is not the university writing programs’ best and brightest, so easy to find elsewhere, but a much-needed “unobstructed view of contemporary fiction at its real, unbridled, vigorous, percolating best.” If that’s what you’re looking for, then Userlands is a bold vantage point. But maybe more importantly, Cooper’s anthology is an important reminder that while conglomerate media’s stranglehold on publishing outlets isn’t likely to break soon, current web affordances such as blogs will continue to serve as vital venues for writers working on the margins of contemporary fiction and indispensable access points for readers more at home on the Bowery than Park Avenue, even Broadway.
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