Monday, June 2, 2008

Sort by . . . or the Anxiety of Anthology

The myth of theme as anything other than an open container for intelligence has always interested me. I love arbitrary organization as long as it remains permeable and aware, and the best literary collections tend to be the ones that play with their own assumptions of content or push the extremity of formal restriction. The theme is interrogated from page 1.

At the same time, I’m deeply attracted to narrower venues that promise certain emotional outcomes, as in permanently dedicated horror or crime collections. I wish I could claim to be a reliably “Noir Writer,” but my dark fiction is more opportunistic than it is seriously crafted for excitement.

I have earned other labels though, as I’ll have a story in an anthology for Washington Area+Women Writers. Delightful, but these are two identities I don’t really inhabit or understand from an aesthetic point of view. I know what DC means in terms of food and interior decorating, but beyond that I’m clueless/curious.

I am reminded of my colleague's experience with a library assistant who refused to copy several essays and place them on reserve for students to check out. The librarian wrote that he could not execute the request as the collection "would make an anthropology."

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