Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Whirlpool Effect and the Maze of Mirrors

I've been trying to squeeze out the essence of a certain trend in 21st Century fiction that makes reading a story hard for me. So far, I've been able to extract two elements: the whirlpool effect, and the maze of mirrors.

The whirlpool effect is a refusal or inability to tell what is, at heart, a simple story in appropriately simple terms. Instead, the writing circles around events, and pours out a gush of extraneous detail. In short, because the writer does not emphasize the more important details over the lesser ones, everything feeds the whirlpool, and the water spills out all over the place.

This lack of emphasis might be the source of another trend. Instead of interacting with events directly, in a physical way, the characters reflect upon events, then reflect upon reflections, until the flow of the story is replaced by a stop-and-start fumbling through a maze of mirrors.

Nobody would say that non-linear narratives and constant introspection are invalid methods. But to me (and I'm likely wrong about this), the 21st Century maze and whirlpool seem less a conscious aesthetic choice than a refusal to discriminate between what matters to a story, and what can be cast aside. And what's more, it seems to imply a hesitation to let the story stand on its own uncomplicated, uncomplexified feet.

Any thoughts about this?

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