2. The New Weird: What Happens to Literary Realism When the Truth Is Stranger than Fiction

Investigative Creative Writing - Teaching and Practice - Mark Spitzer

Mark Spitzer [+-]
University of Central Arkansas
Mark Spitzer is Associate Professor of Creative Writing in the Department of Film, Theatre, and Creative Writing at the University of Central Arkansas. He is the author of 18 books, ranging from memoirs to novels to literary translations and collections of poetry. He is the editor of the award-winning Toad Suck Review (toadsuckreview.org), a professor of creative writing, an authority on the notorious gar fish (See River Monsters, alligator gar episode), and the world expert on the poetry of Jean Genet. Other recent titles include the poetry collection, Inflammatosis: Polemic Poetry, Incendiary Prose, and Other Extremes of Love and War (Six Gallery Press, 2018); the young adult and children’s literature title, The Crabby Old Gar (Subversive Muse Press, 2018); the novel, Viva Arletty! Our Lady of the Egrets (Six Gallery Press, 2017); the nonfiction work, Beautifully Grotesque Fish of the American West (University of Nebraska Press, 2017); the literary translation The Genet Translations: Poetry and Posthumous Plays (Polemic Press, 2015), and the memoir, After the Octopus (Black Mountain Press, 2014).


First published in The Chronicle of Higher Education, this chapter builds on a theory of creative nonfiction first proposed by Tom Wolfe, but with some philosophical input from Edgar Allen Poe and Ezra Pound. The basic premise is that if creative nonfiction does not contain elements of “the unusual,” then it cannot compete against fiction or reality (which has become stranger than fiction). Examples are offered ranging from Michael Jackson to 9/11 to instances published in News of the Weird and best-selling books that incorporate aspects of the fantastic. Teaching experiences are recounted with an eye toward adjusting in-class assignments to meet the curricular criteria of the instructor.

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Spitzer, Mark. 2. The New Weird: What Happens to Literary Realism When the Truth Is Stranger than Fiction. Investigative Creative Writing - Teaching and Practice. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. Jan 2020. ISBN 9781781797181. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=34891. Date accessed: 14 Oct 2019 doi: 10.1558/equinox.34891. Jan 2020

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