Fiction's Present: Situating Contemporary Narrative Innovation

October 31, 2020
Fiction's Present: Situating Contemporary Narrative Innovation

Combining creative and critical responses from some of today'smost progressive and innovative novelists, critics, and theorists,Fiction's Present adventurously engages the aesthetic, political,philosophical, and cultural dimensions of contemporary fiction. Byjuxtaposing scholarly articles with essays by practicing novelists,the book takes up not only the current state of literature and itscriticism but also connections between contemporary philosophy andcontemporary fiction. In doing so, the contributors aim to provokefurther discussion of the present inflection of fiction--a presentthat can be seen as Janus-faced, looking both forward to thenovel's radically changed, political, economic, and technologicalcircumstances, and back to its history of achievements andproblems.Editors R. M. Berry and Jeffrey R. Di Leo contend thatexaminations of fiction's present are most informative not whenthey defend philosophical distinctions or develop literaryclassifications, but when they grapple with elusive topics such asthe meaning of a narrative present or the relation of fiction'smedium to its representations of context. As the essays reveal,this process, when pursued diligently, breaks down traditionaldivisions of academic and intellectual labor, compelling thefiction writer to become more philosophical and the theorist tobecome more imaginative. The value of this book is not in theexhaustiveness of its treatment, but rather in the seriousness ofthe criticism it incites. The present materializes in quarrel, andit is toward such a beginning that the writings in Fiction'sPresent work.