Thursday, April 15, 2010

New! With 20% MORE! AWP Recap!

Panel on the Future of Lit Mags: Innovate!  It's not a matter of print vs. digital (both have places and purposes to serve) it's a matter of how inventive, intriguing and innovative you can make your magazine. And, sometimes, it's about tricking your readers into reading.

Panels that invoked the term "Magical Realism": Three

(Panel 1) "Magical Realism," as a term, is passé.

(Panel 2) Someone quoted Marquez (at least they thought it was Marquez): "What you gringos call 'magical realism,' is our everyday life."  (I couldn't find an actual attribution of this but this quote from a NewYorker profile,  "The world Gabo writes about, the one they call magical realism, is actually real; it's the one we live in," Mirtha Buelvas, a social psychologist in Barranquilla, said to me.)  Either way, it did a lot to further my understanding of how magical realism functions in literature and how one should go about writing it (assuming you're okay with being passé):  To write it you have to believe in a world where it can happen.

(Panel 3) "Magical Realism" is the term we use to sneak fantasy writers into the MFA programs; the writers want to write fantasy but to get them them past the hard-nosed  realists in the department we force the students into the Spanish-language tradition which they rarely know about and often have little interest in engaging.

The third panel listed above had several charming stories including one guy who thought he was writing literary fiction -- "just fiction" he called it -- and so he wrote two books and they got shelved in fiction then he wrote the third and his agent said we're gonna sell this as a thriller.  He didn't think it was particularly thrilling, but his agent said more people would read it if it was a thriller so he said okay.  The book did really well, it got nominated for some genre award and so they reissued his first two books as thrillers.  Lesson: There doesn't have to be a difference between a literary and a genre text.

And, bless those guys' hearts, almost everyone of them said that when a student comes up to them and says I want to write [blank] genre, these guys go out and read the seminal works and other big works in that genre.  If they don't know, they teach themselves so that when a student writes about Orcs they know whether the student is writing well or indulging in Orc clichés.

How to get real-world literary experience while still a student: Go local.  Get involved.  Be reliable.  Work for free.  And overdress.

Bonus Materials:
AWP Bingo Card -- Fabulous.  I got a lot of hits but sadly, no bingo.  As always, amusing.  Fabulous (creepy) pictures from BookFox.

Highly Recommended