The New Libertines

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“it’s like some new wave of libertinage” Sarah E Melville on Penny Goring’s Darklings

“What upsets me more than anything in novels and movies in this genre is that they seem hell bent on portraying only the moments of shock and depravity – they rob the reader and the viewer of the full experience…There are still moments of utter joy and there is still so much laughter. If, as an artist, you don’t portray that, you’re nothing but a cheap hack.” Cody James in a recent interview about her book The Dead Beat

Too much contemporary literature is mired in the slick, the superficial, the blank, the brutal, the one-dimensional. From the shiny sentencecraft of Bukowski to the empty gaze of Brett Easton Ellis, the antecedents of this tendency were startling and fresh, but returns diminish and what once stood out soon becomes the white noise buzzing in the background, the default frequency for generations of writers who increasingly forget the reason why it is there and see only the need to follow.

The need to cut through pointless stodge, to unmask prettiness and technique as both culturally hollow and, more dangerously, strategies of oppression to deny the reality of countless lives lived in poverty and pain remains as present as it ever was when the Blank Generation sideswiped through it, but the most energetic revolutionary voices soon become forces for stasis.

And the particular failing of our current pared-back boredom and blankdom is that it truncates the possibilities of language, places at its centre single aspects of human nature, fails to embrace or reflect the fulness of life. At its heart is a truth that is incomplete.

We need writing that serves up the whole of life, in the smallest microcosms maybe, single truths told in single voices, but told in the full – the ugly and the beautiful; the hopeful and the despairing; the angry and the aspiring; that wrings art, words, life itself until they offer up every last secret, every hidden pain, every unexpected and delightful pleasure; that gives life in the full. Free from judgement. Free from taboo. Free from pretence.

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4 Responses to The New Libertines

  1. Marion says:

    Please sir, can I have some more? I know Eight Cuts is a gentle place that leads by good example, but I’d love more specifics about both what is not fresh but getting too much play, and what the alternatives are.

    • Dan Holloway says:

      But we are gentle folk here, Marion :p I’m lining up a longer version that’s less a manifesto and more an article, but I don’t really want to fall into the trap of claiming that there is a movement or homogenising

  2. Pingback: Modern Fairytales | eight cuts

  3. Pingback: The New Libertines. Year Zero on tour in 2011 « Year Zero Writers

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