Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A clusterfuck of genres

I've never been particularly warm towards the concept of genre. It's a label, a definition, a category of something that just is. I've said before that I like gothic horror and sci-fi and postmodern literature. But it's so broad. I like stories that fit into those genres, but I probably won't like every sci-fi story under the sun. It's just not the way things are. I'm more genre-neutral when it comes to music, but literature, I usually prefer nontraditional or contemporary genres and styles. Like the multiplicity of 'punk' genres. I've written steampunk and dieselpunk before, and I'm attracted to ideas of splatterpunk and bizarro fiction. Sometimes I find it difficult to figure out what genre I'm writing in. It's usually pretty obvious if something's sci-fi or young adult or romance, but personally, I like to play around with generic, sneak humour in to horror, make a real disaster out of it all.

I like to think I take after Chuck Palahniuk. I like to think I share his taste for chaos and almost nihilistic anarchy. I've heard the term 'transgressive fiction' used to label his work. But I'm not Chuck, I do things different. I'm a different writer. Would I write 'transgressive horror' or 'transgressive gothic' or 'transgressive bizarro'? You could probably argue for or against any of those titles and pitch at least half a dozen more. I could probably claim my latest work was a circuspunk story, although I think, within the confines of the punk genre, it is certainly a narrow sub genre. I think at the moment I'm hovering somewhere between transgressive fiction and bizarro fiction. I want to coin the term 'pickled punk' as a literary genre. They're the fetuses you find in jars of embalming fluids at carnival freak shows. Personally, I think it fits my current style pretty well. It's a somewhat removed and transformed version of reality, not so bizarre that it has very little or no grounding in reality, but bizarre enough that it makes your stomach turn.

Could it work, could it catch on? Probably not. But it's that sort of perverse attraction towards the horror, the grotesque, the fetus floating in the pickle jar, a sort of fantastical horror that allows me to say, "hey, sure, this may be pretty sick, but now I have your attention, here's a metaphor that relates to real world character/issues of morality." So, I guess, for now, I have a genre. And it starts with the Pickled Punk monologue, from 'the Giant'. I'm thinking of turning it into a prose poem and putting it up for publication.

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