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Self is not a writer I warm to and here again he displays that common tendency of the reformed addict to revel in the heroic quantities of substances that have been ingested. But there is a brutal truthfulness in his relating of the hard facts of the medical world into which he is plunged and which all of us fear.

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Julie Otsuka's story of the failing of memory with age is another haunting universal vision. Most of us, too, have to deal with the death of a parent and Paul Auster's story of the death of his mother is an elegant and touching meditation on age and experience. Far removed from every day experience is Rajesh Parameshwaram's first person, or first beast, version of how a zoo tiger becomes a man-eater, a tale at once so simple and subtle that I'm not sure I'll be visiting the zoo again in a hurry. Don DeLillo provides a psychological shocker with his story of an obsessive movie goer and Joy Williams has a clever little piece on the nature of the mentally disturbed.

If your taste is for the more conventional thrills Sarah Hall serves up a powerfully written atmospheric story of horrid doings in darkest Africa and Stephen King's contribution is, as you might expect, a polished effort with a classic twist in the tale. But, as is not unusual for Granta, the real impact for this reader comes with the reportage.

Granta 117: Horror

Santiago Roncagliolo's description of life in Peru with the conflicting atrocities committed by the Shining Path guerrillas and the reprisals by the state security forces beggar the imagination of those of us lucky enough to live in more politically stable climates. But perhaps the most striking single piece of horror comes in Tom Bamforth's despatch from the anarchy of Darfur where, at the end of his trip, he encounters the newly appointed head of the World Food Programme.

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Granta, Issue 117: Horror

Tags: d. Leave a Reply Click here to cancel reply. Unlike the English novel, it is praised for its diversity, its experimentations on the model of Donald Barthelme or Thomas Pynchon but also for its attention to the non-fiction novel and therefore in experimentations with the narration in the form of a novel of actual events and narration. The editorial thus moves from an initial outrage at the perpetuation of a Victorian literary model in England which has become stilted and sterile, to outrage at the refusal to move beyond the original experimentation of early postmodernism.

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The editorial, from an outraged piece, becomes an appeal to outrage, to rebellion, and thus an artistic manifesto, hence the definition of the editors who acknowledge the diversity of the magazine in this first issue. Outrage is then used as an encouragement to dialogue, to go beyond a mere rebellion against isolation: the structure of the issues themselves is based on a dialogic intent, initially between academic discourse and narrative texts, and in later issues, between different genres and between fiction and non-fiction.

The issue thus proposes both an analysis of the reasons behind what is perceived as the demise of the English novel as described in the first issue and several texts used as examples of the new model of British fiction.


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To him, the English novel is caught between excessive postmodernist irony and a lack of experimentation. The new authors he brings to the fore are the ones breaking free from those two extremes, thus transforming the unease of the title into a dynamic negotiation. The fiction of today is, as Lorna Sage points out in her symposium essay, testimony to an invasion of outsiders, using a language much larger than the culture.


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Today, however, the imagination resides along the peripheries. Granta 3, Granta therefore aimed at echoing a rebellion which expanded from the realm of fiction: the third issue already displayed a shift in the target of outrage and the magazine explicitly meant to create a debate.

People weren't writing fiction or talking about it—everyone wanted to work for the BBC. They broaden the debate, leading it the topic of the state of culture and the relationship between the demands of the market and the novels produced by the British publishing industry. Faced recently by their price, I see I have no choice. Of course, it is commonplace that what is published in the end is decided by the Great British Public.

A mythic beast of extraordinary proportions—with puffy white arms, sustained by McVities chocolate biscuits and books about the Queen Mother—this Great Public has been elevated to virtually incontestable authority. What emerges in these editorials is, indirectly, a challenge to the boundaries of cultural authority.

Paul Auster and Don DeLillo public reading in New York

The true outrage at work here, beyond the criticism of the English novel, seems to be a challenge to the borders of national cultural authority. The provocation which characterises this page lies in the indirect portrayal of the ideal reader of the magazine, who is aware of the distinction between the demands of the mass market and of the rhetoric of highbrow publications but still maintains distance. Outrage, in this page, is used to reject categorisation and boundaries—and the same stance is reflected in the last page of the issue. Such an intent is underlined by the constant provocation underlying the editorial paratexts and in some of the texts.


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