Cities and suburbs, real and imaginary.

Friday, July 23, 2010

mosaic novels

i'll be working on a paper this weekend for school that's dedicated to the craft of mosaic novels. been reading around a bit about them.

one thing i think is interesting, in particular, is how the term seems genre-specific. novels of general fiction seem to avoid the term, while genre writers embrace it. DIVISADERO by Michael Ondaatje seems to bear all the hallmarks of a "fix-up", with loosely connected narratives explicating a single theme - the effect of extreme, dividing violence upon the lives of different people - yet, critics only talk about it as oddly-structured, without ever allowing themselves to consider a structure that isn't, at all, odd. Mosaic novels are so common that I am going to be severely scaling back my paper's scope to protect my writing time. Mosaic novels are ridiculously common in SF, where selling part or all of your novel in multiple magazines piecemeal is a really good idea (ACCELERANDO by Charles Stross, for instance). What happens in general fiction is they seem to buy more short story collections, and they seem to avoid labeling novels as anything but novels, regardless of what form that novel takes. Ergo, they don't seem to need a special term for interconnected short stories.

I don't have any grand sweeping suppositions about this, or what it means for readers or writers. I'm just observing what I'm seeing rising out of the data. Mosaic novels and Fix-Up novels seem to be something specific to SF/F, as a term, even if the form transcends genres. Which is interesting enough for a blog post, I guess. I will need more to hang a 30+ page research paper upon then that, but so it goes.

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