Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Blank Fiction

This website is a link to a review of a book by James Annesley called Blank Fictons: Consumerism, consumption and the contemporary novel. Published in 1998, the book examines blank fiction and tries to establish whether it is a passing fad or a literary movement. The first lines interested me in the definition it suggests of blank fiction – “You might not be sure what it
is, but you can be sure its out there”. Reading Less Than Zero, I did feel a little like this – the expressionless descriptions of Clay’s daily life interspersed with occasional bouts of self reflection left me wondering what Ellis was trying to say. Clearly, the images of teenagers with limitless funds, lack of moral guidance and too much time on their hands provides a very specific view of 80’s life in LA and Annesley suggests that blank fiction generally shows the blurring of life by drugs, money and violence.

Annesley also suggests that blank fiction is a way of blaming America for all the bad things in society, referring to violence, kinky sex and blatant consumerism. He is quick to suggest that this is not just a literary style but “a mirror held up to a corrupt America”. This seems an unrealistic claim to make as America was not the only place where drugs and violence were rife at the time. Thereviewer of the book makes the point that it may be more a reflection on the authors’ own culture but this may be explained by the fact that Annesley is from London and the reviewer Marshall Fishwick is from Virginia and he may not agree that America is the source of everything bad in the world.

The authors of blank fiction break new ground in the style of writing and the comments on the back of the book by the New York Times critic says that Less than Zero “possesses an unnerving air of documentary reality”. I think that this is a good description of the genre – portraying the brutality and hedonism of the LA lifestyle of the young and wealthy.

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