Thoughts on Transgressive writing.

I’m reading the (affiliate link ahead) Burnt Tongues. This is the love child from Chuckpalahniuk.net.

The anthology is okay. Even if I didn’t know it was Palahniuk related I’d know inside two stories. If you are a fan of that style you’ll like it.

I don’t really feel too strongly about the actual work in the anthology. Most of the stories so far rely fairly heavily on the gross out mode of transgression, I’m halfway in and so far vomit, obsession, some kind of mental deficiency. The sort of things that are SHOCKING OMG GROSS OH NO.

Overall none of the stories are particularly memorable for me. The gross factor is a bit tired to me.

Which brings me to my thoughts on transgression.

If you’ve read me for a minute you know I am very into transgression and exploring that in my work. I think my issue with the stories in the anthology aren’t really the stories, they are very obviously workshopped in that fan base really hard. Some of them have some nice moments. But the transgression as rooted in the gross factor doesn’t really do it for me.

I do enjoy that CP (Chuck P) style of that tight first person, present tense.

But as I read more of his work and that anthology I find it lacking in a certain kind of depth.

Or not depth, maybe a certain adventurousness.

I don’t really feel a sense of danger in the gross out mode of transgression or the something fucked up happened but everyone is pretty, or scars etc.  It feels safe. It feels both as a reader and writer that the only real risk involved is in maybe turning someone off or making them feel a bit icky in the guts.

That doesn’t turn my crank generally speaking.

I really want transgression that takes nose dives into dangerous territory.

But what’s dangerous?

The most powerful transgressive writing to my taste comes from a place of otherness or if not otherness than a place that is not comfortable for normative cultural tropes. The challenge in my eyes is the most powerful when it makes the world being written, not a comfortable place.

One of my favorite modes of exploring transgression is female desire and sexuality.

Not just on terms of erotica but consider female desire in terms of how it is generally written about in literature. Safe is demure, occasionally “bold” (as in making the first move), numerous romantic tropes, but there is so much more.

When women are written as not adhering to cultural expectations of how they experience desire or lust or have sex, there is space to explore transgression. For instance, writing female desire that is outside of and ignores heterosexual cis white dudes. Lesbians or Queer women written by and for their like.

It’s not transgressive to write those women because they are queer but because they exist and live outside of the norm which in the case of literature is White Cis Men.

Essentially I want my transgression to work harder. Go deeper.

Part of this is that gross outs just really don’t move me at all. I have worked with/been around babies and animals so there’s not enough poop or vomit in the world lovingly described chunk by chunk that will make me remember a thing or a story in particular.

I have the same problem with some of the contemporary horror I’ve read.

From the writing end, this is one of the things that moves my work regardless of what I’m writing. It is in the back of my mind. I work to hold onto the thread of what I desire out of transgressive writing and make it.

Okay yeah that.

Now that I’ve got my brain functioning, (I have had a hellacious cold) I’m going to go write some things.

So there.

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2 thoughts on “Thoughts on Transgressive writing.

  1. Pingback: Craft notes- experimentation in Flash fiction | About that Writing thing.

  2. Pingback: On Twee Subervsion or Keepin it White n Easy | About that Writing thing.

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