Sunday, July 09, 2006

Lonely Rebellions

One of my lonelier rebellions is against bad avant garde writing. Cult publishers, blogs and magazines seem to have no quality control whatsoever when it comes to particular writers, writing and subjects. Transgressive sex makes transgressive writing, seems to be the mantra, when really, it can just be S&M Mills and Boon. I am grateful, therefore, to 3AM Magazine for providing an extract of some of the worst writing I've ever read. Stephen Barber has all the right credentials of course; he's an academic, usually a signifier of limited literary merit; in digital and media arts; which adds a certain certainty to it; and, here's the killer has been described as the most "dangerous man in Britain" by the Independent. Given such credentials, it would be a near miracle if he wrote anything good at all, but this extract from "Tokyo Sodom" is numbingly bad. It's almost pointless to quote from it, since every line is a gem. Like an ethics professor with Tourette's he can only interrupt the S&M Mills and Boon of his porn movie fuckfest, to spout, verbatim, chunks of geopolitics. His banality can describe breasts as "Mount Fuji-like", and his erudition can include mid-sex dialogue such as "In the Second World War, (the Slovakians) were the only nation in Europe that actually paid the Nazis to take our Jews away to Auschwitz! 20,000 of them,at the cost of 50 crowns per deportation." Though I did enjoy the choice Slovakian insults. Well-heeled academics write trash for money most of the time, but we don't have to pretend there's the remotest thing interesting about fiction this bad.

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