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3:AM Top 5: Lee Rourke


“As we depart from the twentieth-century insistence on literature’s powerlessness to comment on anything but literature, fables – the briefest of narratives unselfconsciously imbued with the most expansive of significations – have gained in popularity. “

Coming soon from Hesperus Press, Lee Rourke‘s Brief History of Fables: From Aesop to Flash Fiction. In the meantime, here are Lee’s Top 5 Modern Post-Fabulists:

1. Shane Jones is the leading light in post-fabulist fiction. Both his novels Light Boxes and The Failure Six are quite wondrous things, each managing to bathe the reader in a sense of fabulous wonder. They are unlike anything I have read in a very long time. Spike Jones‘ adaptation of Light Boxes is one to look forward to. As is the Penguin edition of this beguiling novel.

2. Joseph Young‘s collection of microfictions Easter Rabbit, published by Baltimore’s Publishing Genius Press, is one of those books you find yourself carrying around with you, or take from your shelves in moments of despair or bonhomie. It possesses both an ethereal yet soothing quality. Microfiction has finally found its voice.

3. Blake Butler is so far in front it hurts. Scorch Atlas is a book so imbued with language in all its brilliant nuances it’s no wonder we are unable to keep up. His novella Ever is a post-Beckettian labyrinth where language itself is the narrative’s sole protagonist. When the light is turned on behind our eyes, it’s the language within us that comes rushing forth. It is fiction that is permanently switched on.


4. Jonathan Lethem‘s fictions are an anthropomorphic stew, where the surreal fuses within a reality lost within itself. Tigers roam the streets, stoners yearn for the past and holes appear out from the ether, ready to swallow whole both the stuff of fiction and reality. Lethem’s fictions take hold of the simulacra and endlessly run with it, creating a world as beautiful as it is horrifying.

5. HP Tinker‘s work is about as far removed from an Aesop fable as one can imagine, yet it contains the same heady mixture of the fabulous and the surreal. His collection The Swank Bisexual Wine Bar of Modernity is a meeting of meta-fictional mischief and garrulous genius. After reading HP Tinker the world begins to take on an altogether different complexion.

First posted: Monday, March 8th, 2010.

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