Right now, the internet is aflame with discussions regarding the current state of crime fiction. There are side topics of whether crime fiction actually explores current social issues, the genre vs. literary debate, and the publishing industry's gutless encouragement of cookie cutter thrillers.

The part of this discussion that I want to hone in on is this: is anything new being done in crime fiction?

To bring up a music analogy, I’d like to compare crime fiction to electronic music. In the world of literature, crime fiction as a concentrated genre is relatively new (I could easily be wrong here, as I’m not as literate as I’d like to be), just like electronic music is in the world of music.

Forgive me if this doesn't mean much to you, but I think that crime fiction’s done techno, house, maybe even drum and bass, but where is the glitch or the IDM? Where are the Aphex Twins and Squarepushers of crime fiction? Their stuff is still electronic, but far more experimental and boundary pushing, so much so as to almost create new genres of music, if not new sub-genres.

Is it then a case of aesthetics not being pushed, rather than moral issues or messages? Where are the Danielewskis or Steven Halls of crime fiction? Who is pushing the boundaries of presentation and language of story in this genre?

Seriously, I’d like to know. Is there anyone out there writing crime fiction that is truly new? I’m not as well read as I’d like to be and so I’m wondering if this is already happening but we don’t have the hindsight to see it.

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I don't know anything about electronic music, but in another post somewhere, someone asked if crime fiction is in the middle of the 80's hair band phase, waiting for Cobain and grunge and I've got to think it's better to be compared to electronic music.

Maybe the question should be, is there some new underground of crime fiction gaining momentum and looking like it might breakout into the mainstream?

Brian listed a whole bunch. There are plenty more, so I'd say, yes, there's lots coming on, but like he says, we have to actually buy the books.
I'm going to harp on about electronic music until someone hits me, but I can't help wondering if there are equivalents in writing to sampling and remixing. Is it possible to rewrite someone else's work to make it more modern, or to take elements from a number of other works to create something wholly new? Legally, a minefield, and quite possibly a load of bollocks, but .. I wonder.
I think we call that plagiarism, Daniel. ;)

I think I know what you mean, though, and yes, it happens all the time. Romeo and Juliet, for example, has probably been told a thousand different ways.

Actually, there are tons--literally thousands--of novels in the public domain that you could use like that if you wanted to. The trick would be to find a good one that hasn't already been done to death (Frankenstein, Dracula, Huckleberry Finn, etc.).
Yeah, I think remixes are mostly plagiarisms, but not always. Sometimes they 'transcend' the original. Or even cover versions do (mostly with Bob Dylan).

But I wonder about the cut and past approach of sampling. Is there a way to do that with words?
You have to get permission from the copyright holder (which usually comes at a price), or you can use excerpts from public domain ad lib. Really, you see it pretty often in novels, especially song lyrics and poems.
Hi Daniel. I just posted this on John's blog, as it seems relevant, and also to this discussion:


For sampling, I guess you'd do it the same as with music. The solution to plagiarism on one level is to collaborate on new stuff, or else work with either uncopyrighted material or parts of the work that can't be copyrighted, such as structure or plot progressions. But the plagiarism issue is outdated here. It's meant to protect authors from outright theft. It implies laziness, but that's not what we're talking about here.

In fiction, as a general rule, we don't have people who are respected for reworking the fiction of others but perhaps in the future it will become as common as in music, and I think that would be very interesting to see. Outside crime, broadly in sci-fi, my friend Simon Logan frequently does different mixes of his own short stories.
I loved Jeff Noon's VURT but haven't read anything else. Yet. Makes sense that he would draw parallels between music and writing, especially electronic music.

Hmm, looks like Cobralingus has been usurped. (at the bottom of the linked article)
From the music angle, you should definitely check out Needle in the Groove - but most of his stuff is worth it. Lovely bloke too. I saw him read his poem 'Metaphorazine -


- in Leeds a while back, and I've never seen another author be so infused about and into what he was doing. Mad as anything, though.

I'm not surprised Cobralingus went down. There was a book too, but I don't think any of it did massively well. Which may be relevant...
Damn. That's some nice work.

My girlfriend's been hassling me to read NEEDLE IN THE GROOVE for a while now, but I keep getting distracted by this crimey thing I got going on.

Funny about Cobralingus. I thought the links were part of it at first. :)
Did you ever read any of the "Cut-Up" books that William Burroughs wrote?
I tried coming up with a list of experimental mystery/crime fiction books and this is what I have come up with so far:

-The Ruined Map by Kobo Abe
-The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster
-Gun, With Occasional Music by Jonathan Lethem
-Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem
-The Lew Griffin books by James Sallis
-A Hell of a Woman by Jim Thompson
-Savage Night by Jim Thompson
-Pop. 1280 by Jim Thompson
-S.R.O. by Robert Deane Pharr

I welcome any additions to the newly created experimental crime fiction canon :) if you guys can think of any.
See, this is what I was asking for, and I'm sad to say that I've only read one of these (Gun, With Occasional Music). Must read more of these, and thanks for coming up with them, Brian.

Now that I think of it, I'm starting to see Ken Bruen's stuff as experimental and completely original.


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