Tag: form and genre distinctions confuse me

Defining literary fiction as a genre

“Literary fiction can, like most fiction, be unimportant. It can also be unserious: some of the best of it is. I’d call Italo Calvino’s If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller literary fiction, but it doesn’t strike me as either important or serious. It’s a glorious game.

“[…] I’d suggest that the main identifying feature [of literary fiction]—and in this respect literary writing can and does compass and mingle with any number of other genres—is to do with complexity and depth of attention.”

a very thoughtful essay by Sam Leith, found via Language Hat


Short story: “Charlie the Purple Giraffe Was Acting Strangely”

“Charlie the Purple Giraffe Was Acting Strangely,” by David D. Levine

First appeared in Realms of Fantasy, June 2004; anthologized in Year’s Best Fantasy 5 (edited by David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer, July 2005) and The Mammoth Book of Extreme Fantasy (edited by Mike Ashley, Running Press, 2008); collected in Space Magic (Wheatland Press, 2008); read for Drabblecast 113, May 6th, 2009, and featured in a Director’s Cut episode, July 1st, 2018 (see the Internet Speculative Fiction Database page)

A few thousand words?

Cute. And very typical of the Drabblecast; the sound effects are a nice touch.

I didn’t know it had also appeared in Realms of Fantasy. I wonder how typical it is of that publication (which is now defunct)? I imagine it stands out as a bit oddball. It feels like a slight stretch even classing it as fantasy.

Edited to add: Just listened to the Drabblecast episode reprising it, and I forgot how good the last line is.

Short story: “Kylie Land”

“Kylie Land,” by Caspian Gray

Appeared in Nightmare Magazine, July 2018 (issue 70), and narrated on the podcast by Stefan Rudnicki

6,348 words

Awesome story. I was distracted trying to decide if it was horror (it’s not). But it’s so hopeful, a story of friendship and a boy trying to get free from his stifling life. Interesting to see how broadly Nightmare defines the genre of dark fantasy.

On the difference between fantasy and magical realism

“We are looking for realistic worlds that exhibit some sort of magical or supernatural element taken by the people in that world to be real. If fantasy shows us a world where ghosts exist, magical realism offers up a world where ghosts are pedestrian. In fantasy ghosts are the whole point. In magical realism ghosts are not the whole point.”

—the guidelines for the magazine doppelgänger, edited by James Hodgson

I’ve always struggled with the distinction, so this is helpful.

Fictional essay or possibly short story: “Elemental Love”

“Elemental Love,” by Rachel Swirsky

Originally on the author’s Patreon; reprinted in Uncanny Magazine Issue Nineteen, November 7th, 2017

454 words

A charming monologue on artificial and natural intelligences, and love.

Short story: “Insurance”

“Insurance,” by Thomas Bolt

Appeared in n+1‘s online-only edition, September 1st, 2017

3024 words

Maybe more of a vignette, a slice of life, than a story. A family beset by small, everyday inconveniences that somehow seem bigger than they are.

Just so I have this straight

According to Wikipedia, the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America says:

Novelette: “Lagomorph”

“Lagomorph,” by Alexander McLeod

Appeared in Granta 141: Canada, November 9th, 2017; available to subscribers here

7702 words

(Heavy spoilers lie ahead.) I was so relieved when the rabbit didn’t die. At the end, it seems to me that the couple is united by their familial love for this rabbit, but the main character rejects that bond—I’m not sure why—retreating to his private relationship with Gunther.

I learned a new word: “altricial.”

Short story or fictional essay: “Stillness”

“Stillness,” by Eoghan Walls

Appeared in Granta 140: State of Mind | The Online Edition, online here

3468 words

Maybe it’s my mood, but I seem to be less inclined today to accept a work of fiction as a short story. I like this one, though.

The URL seems to indicate that it was originally titled “Der Stiller.”

Short story or fictional essay: “M*rphed”

“M*rphed,” by Robert Coover

Appeared in Granta 140: State of Mind | The Online Edition, October 20th, 2017, online here

2106 words

Good to know Granta publishes speculative fiction now and then. The main character’s plight is reminiscent of “I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream,” except it’s not malicious so much as absurd, indifferent to/amused by his suffering. Perhaps a satire on entertainment.