Thursday, October 15, 2009

Lydia Millet vs. Domestic Realism

ONE of the key impulses of my generation -- what we used to call generation x -- has been the move away from old-school psychological realism into fiction's "borderlands." that's michael chabon's term, and he's generally talking about the wild frontier between literary fiction and fantasy, pulp crime, sci-fi, lovecraftian horror and comics.

but lydia millet is less interested in those fan-boy genres and more committed in her own weird soup of caricature, psychological extremity, obsession, and calvino-esque possibilities. (anyone who's lived in LA knows that those can actually be categories of realism here, but that's another conversation.) her characters are rarely likable, they're sometimes not even feasible, but they're often compelling.

here is my interview with millet from last year, when her bracing short novel "how the dead dream was released on soft skull press, then run by richard nash. millet is also an alum of what i call "the school of flynt," as in hustler: various porn and ammo magazines were her MFA program.

millet has a new story collection, "love in infant monkeys," which is getting good notices -- here is a review from the new york times book review.

this is a writer whose assumptions differ from some of my own, but who thinks in truly original ways.

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