Sunday, May 26, 2013

Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer/the future of online literary culture

Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer reading from her novel PERFECTING. To read my interview with Kuitenbrouwer, go here.

I'll be posting again soon on the topic of authors posting their work online. For some time now, Dan Green has been posting on the virtues (and necessities) of online criticism; that is, a body of criticism which is not under the same material pressures of production as print criticism is. It seems to me that one could make the same argument for online publishing of fiction; however, there is a problem with this latter approach, and it is a major one -- people, for whatever set of reasons, do not seem inclined to read online literary fiction with enough passion to create an alternative cultural ecosystem which could exist parallel to but independently from print.

It seems to me that the kind of online critical ecosystem that Green calls for already exists, and is relatively thriving ... though obviously one could debate (as Green does) the criteria it should meet to really compete with print criticism. Yet -- and this is a gargantuan irony -- online criticism seems almost exclusively concerned with print literary production. Online literary production could, I suppose, campaign against this trend on the grounds of ethics ("it's not friggin' fair!"). But it seems to me that online literature is much more likely to succeed if it recognizes that online publishing is an animal quite different from what print used to be. (A note here: print publishing itself is changing quite drastically, as the Korean industry shows (more on this later)). Online literature, in other words, cannot mimic print forms and succeed in creating its own cultural ecosystem.

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