originality versus authenticity; and, goodbye to the novel

The following quote is from The Globe and Mail’s book section, February 27, 2010. Novelist Catherine Bush reviews David Shield’ new book, Reality Hunger, A Manifesto.

“There’s a new movement afoot, [Shields] declares, that favours the deliberately unarty and yanks in larger and larger chunks of ‘reality’ – yet, crucially, remains conscious of and up-front about what it’s up to. Shield’s ideal literature must stay ‘true,’ you might say, to the problems of representing anything. Maybe he’d also echo the words of Germany’s new writing sensation, Helene Hegemann, who, when caught lifting whole pages from another [writer] in her bestselling, possibly autobiographical, novel, shrugged off the controversy by declaring, ‘There’s no such thing as originality anyway, just authenticity.’ As in: If it feels authentic, then it is?”

In the same article, Bush writes: “While [Shields] acknowledges the history of reinvention inherent in the novel’s name and form, he would really like to shove the novel aside in favour of the essay, and make ‘essay,’ from the French essai, with all its connotations of searching and striving, the go-to term to describe all hybrid and formally inventive work, even as he particularly favours work rooted in a first-person, subjective exploration of world and self.”

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