Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Transgressive Writing

Because I (and others) consider my novel-in-progress to be a transgressive book involving transgressive sex, I was very struck when I received a comment about this sort of thing in an email conversation with my friend George. (I should mention that George, a visual artist and poet, doesn't like capital letters.)

"i consider (Updike) to be one of those who substantiate my idea that the theme for 20th century art is transgression.....perhaps it is always the operant theme....for success."

As Burger King ads have argued, "Sometimes you've gotta break the rules."

Two thoughts of my own on this subject:
*First know the rules and then break them, as needed, for good reasons. To be worthwhile the breakage must accomplish something.
*Know that there are likely to be be some costs involved.

I'm hoping that useful transgression will also be a theme of the early twenty-first century.

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kenju said...

I suppose James Patterson would be in that category, or at least some of his books are. I must admit it fascinates me.

Peggy Payne said...

I haven't read Patterson. Do you think I'd like him? Which book should I start with?

Greta said...

I'll just come right out and say I looked up the terms "transgressive fiction" and "transgressive sex" immediately. I simply was not familiar with the terms except for the root word. Very interesting to think (and speculate)about.

I don't enjoy reading about sex just because it's sex. But I recently read Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides and found it fascinating in spite of, or maybe because of, its story of a hermaphrodite (to put it simply).

Kenju, I've read almost everything of Patterson's, so I'll have to skim a few with the terms in mind.

Peggy, I think you might like Patterson's early stuff and even some of the other before he began doing so much co-authoring. Might just be me, but the co-authored books don't seem to have the same quality. The Alex Cross series are my favorite books.

BTW, one of my favorite male authors is James Lee Burke. I've always thought he understands women.

Peggy Payne said...

I too like James Lee Burke, Greta. Good writer and I like the New Orleans setting; that's where a large part of my transgressive-novel-inprogress is set.

I'll put the Alex Cross series on my list. Thanks.

Scott said...

Very late to the party, here, but I've also been trying to shop a book that has been pleasing agencies, and yet, confounding them, as well. It's a self-conscious twist on the popular horror convention of home invasion, but with some very real differences. So far, I've been identifying it as high-camp horror. Perhaps transgressive fiction is what I should have been calling it all along.

Off to research agencies that rep such works. Good luck with yours, Peggy.

Peggy Payne said...

Hey Scott. The party is always happy to welcome your arrival.

High-camp horror is an intriguing concept, makes the book draw me. I hope you get some good news there soon, by whatever label.

Jason Wayne Allen said...

I'm a huge fan of this genra of fiction. I first became aware of it with Brett Easton Ellis's "American Psycho". I progressed(or transgressed) to William S Burroughs, J.G. Ballard, Chuck Palahniuk and more. The themes of transgressive fiction are inspiring because it shows characters who break out of the suffocation of societial standards through any means necessary, sadly through self-destructive, nihilistic means, however the reader always walks away a little more enlightened, I think. Basically, the underlying meaning being, I think, "be yourself no matter what".

For a book with good transgressive sex try "The end of Alice" by Am Holmes or "Child of God" by Cormac Mccarthy. I like your blog by the way, I'll check into buying one of your books~thanks, Jason

Peggy Payne said...

I'll try the McCarthy and Holmes. Thanks. I didn't know of either book. Also, I'm glad to get your message. When I saw there was a comment on an old post on this particular subject, I expected a "crank call." But your comment was a nice surprise, with good info. And Thanks for following here, BTW.