Banality & the Weird

image_originalLately I’m reading Michael Griffin’s Far From Streets, among other things. It’s a pleasure and striking in many ways. Weird fiction has diversified in recent decades, and one strain of it that I’ve very much enjoyed incorporates psychological realism, sometimes with a Modernist bent. Far From Streets has repeatedly reminded me of all the authors you’d expect, as well as bits of Carver and Hempel, but I have to say that the opening of this novella strikes me as being as similar in tone to the opening of The Sun Also Rises as anything I’ve ever read. Hemingway comparisons are always fraught, but I really do feel the opening tone is thoroughly banal and flatly declarative. The reader is disarmingly well grounded in reality before strangeness creeps in.

Whatever explicitly ooga-booga Weird may appear, thus far I’ve really only keyed in on the more subtle strangeness of a married couple with various long-term issues dealing with being separated from society. One of the many fine passages in the book struck me last night, partly because of my age, but largely because it’s nothing you’d see in classic weird fiction:

He was the one who’d changed. Not Carolyn. Not the sky. He didn’t care to recapture youth, as she believed. All he wanted was to briefly recall how it felt. An unworried mind. To be blank slate, free of the clutter of overhead and age.

I also enjoyed Mike’s story, “Firedancing,” in The Children of Old Leech, and I’ll be on the lookout for more from him.

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