Dirty Realism


- a conversation about genre - introduction to Dirty Realism - a story - Dirty Realism vs. what came before

- Dirty Realism in „Rock Springs‟

What is genre?

How can an analysis of genre help us to decide the quality of a text?

The important of genre at Level 3
The thing about Level 3 exam topics is that they will often make use of things like: “The best stories...” “Great literature...” They are frequently interested in your ability to make decisions about quality. This is why we do work around context and around genre.

Genre is important to us because: - We can make judgements about a text based on its willingness to fit with genre conventions - Texts that challenge or subvert known genres often have the desire to break new ground in terms of what a text should do, or who it should represent.

Dirty Realism
- a mid-1980s movement in American fiction, led primarily by Raymond Carver - a reaction to the more surrealist style that preceded it - as seen in the work of writers like Donald Barthelme (whose story “The Balloon” we‟ll have a look at as a comparison).

- placed emphasis on alienated characters, often drunks and wanderers - figures who are fundamentally alone
- interest in how characters discover, deal with, overcome, etc. that loneliness that plagues them - prose is sparse, which is to say direct and uncluttered by unnecessary detail - emphasis on telling „real‟ stories, telling the stories of the „average Joe‟ - narratives are often „incomplete‟ snippets of life, without an immediate purpose - often what is not told is just as important as what is

Is Rock Springs a piece of Dirty Realism?
Character - To what extent are the characters on the fringe/lonely? Who? How much? How do you know this?

Language - To what extent is the language sparse and under-embellished? Where do you see this?
Tone - To what extent is the mood sombre? Where do you see this? Structure - To what extent is this a „slice of life‟? How do you justify your thinking?

Something to reflect on...
Ford, and the Dirty Realists, are doing something very new for their time in their writing. The are re-determining who should be represented by fiction. Realism had happened before. Earnest Hemingway is famous for his Realism, but he wrote about decidedly middle-class figures who often suffered some kind of Existential crisis because they had too much time on their hands. Ford, Carver, etc. represent a working-class people, who suffer because they‟ve inherited the Absurdism and Existentialism that‟s come before them, their just pretty-much unconscious to it. Their lives become potent representations of living in an Absurd world, rather than narratives that show people confronting that very situation. Ford was partly responsible for creating a genre, which is one reason why I would consider him, and his writing, great.

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