Tacked on to the end of Moxie Mezcal’s novel, Concrete Underground, is the Guerrilla Manifesto. This introduces us to the field of guerrilla fiction. I thought it would be interesting to consider the ideas behind guerrilla fiction and the experimental or transgressive fiction that is championed at XFX.
First, the introduction to the Experimental Fiction (XFX) section of ACOR:
This group started on Yahoo. It was designed to concentrate on the types of fiction that we do not normally find on the front rounder at the local big-box bookstore. We call it experimental fiction but it might be considered imaginative fiction, surfiction, and the many other designations that have been applied to fiction throughout the years whenever it doesn’t follow the rules of the mainstream.
Experimental Fiction is a loose term and can be applied to some well-read classics that were experimental in their time, postmodern works, newer efforts such as Bizarro fiction, the West Coast Narrative movement, etc. Simply put, I see experimental literature as writing that is willing …
- to violate the standards of conventional writing
- to approach subjects that are not generally accepted
- to emphasize art before profit.
And now the Guerrilla Manifesto which is also posted at Mozie Mezcal’s web site:
- Guerrilla fiction is defined by independent, artist-driven production and distribution of literary works.
- Guerrilla fiction is based on the belief that the traditional model of book publishing only benefits one person – some guy in New York making money off other people’s creativity – at the expense of both artist and audience.
- Guerrilla fiction is possible because the tools for creating and sharing art are widely available to anyone with access to a computer and an internet connection.
- Guerrilla fiction favors the electronic distribution of literature as an environmentally-responsible alternative to traditional publishers’ slavish devotion to paper.
- Guerrilla fiction favors cheap, zine-style photocopies over more wasteful formats favored by traditional publishers. Guerrilla fiction believes that neither the artist nor the audience is served well when works are released only as expensive hardcovers.
- Guerrilla fiction favors the promotion of art through direct connection between the artist and audience – using web sites, social networks, community involvement, word of mouth, and face-to-face human interaction.
- Guerrilla fiction makes the distribution of art an extension of the interpersonal relationship between the artist and the audience, rather than the commercial relationship between the publisher and the consumer.
- Guerrilla fiction believes that getting art to the audience is more important than getting money to the artist.
- Guerrilla fiction keeps all rights in the hands of the artist.
- Guerrilla fiction does not need to be sanctioned or validated.
I see that the fundamental difference is that XFX opts for experimental fiction that is different—sometimes very different—from the conventional works being published at the time but doesn’t necessarily get concerned with the method of publication or distribution. Guerrilla Fiction, however, focuses on the creation and distribution of the literature—the rights and freedoms of the artist— but doesn’t specify any concern for the content of the work other than a vague requirement that the writing need not meet with the norms and requirements of traditional publishers.
The concepts behind Guerrilla Fiction, however, fit nicely with those of Experimental Fiction. We are seeing more and more fiction being written and distributed outside the traditional world of profit driven publication and I certainly hope that we see more. I would, however, like to see much more transgressive guerrilla fiction in the future.
How does Bizarro Fiction fit in with Guerrilla Fiction and Transgressive Fiction?