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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True, I. J. That's probably where the experience factor comes into play.
I don't like these questions, especially when they are asked of writers. I suspect that most authors write what moves and excites them--what is published is determined by the gatekeepers like agents, editors, and publishers. I do write about race and politics, not necessarily because I want to spread a message, but because it's who I am and how I'm wired.

Since an increasing number of books are now being translated into the English language, perhaps inspiration can be had from crime writers in places like Spain, Italy, Japan, and Sweden. There will be more contributions from graphic novelists as well. Actually I don't think new things will be coming from established writers from NYC presses but those yet undiscovered geniuses who have been spinning wild stories for their own enjoyment. Their time will come.
Well, okay. I absolutely agree about fresh influences coming from abroad. But I also think that an author has the capacity to explore new fields. I started this discussion by saying that I hadn't found anything new, and then had to admit halfway through that Ken Bruen did indeed do some unconventional and unexpected things in his Irish novels. I have a feeling that he keeps his writing in separate categories and that it is in the Jack Taylor novels that he becomes a poet in addition to being a fine novelist. A very admirable thing.
I haven't read any of the discussions about there being nothing new, so I'm not sure where it all came from but really...does it matter? Do we NEED to have something new? I've read some wonderful books this year and never once thought "This is boring because it's not breaking new ground." I want a good story with great characters, well written and well told. That's all. I don't like mannered, self-conscious books that are obviously trying to do something new. I find that more boring.

Yes, by all means try new things. I've just finished Warren Ellis' CROOKED LITTLE VEIN which is a biit different. But it's not a forced 'look at me, I'm different'.
I believe John Rickards started this on his blog and got a ton of responses. Sarah referred to the discussion on her blog and got more input.
Bingo. I saw GONE BABY GONE and MICHAEL CLAYTON over the weekend. Nothing "new" in them, certainly nothing experimental. Just excellent stories, well told, with a unique perspective. Top rate stuff. The problem isn't so much a lack of experimentation and revolutionary development, it's a lack of taking care of business as far as quality goes. Quality will always seek its own direction.
You know what? I've been reading a "new voice" lately and by about half way through I was thoroughly sick of it. Maybe we do want just that - a good story told well.
I hope I didn't imply that everything that wasn't new was bad, that's not what I meant at all. Crime fiction is all still very new to me (only about three years), so I find most books I read to be exciting in some way or other. And most of the time I am made ecstatic by a well written story (THE WINTER OF FRANKIE MACHINE comes to mind).

But sometimes I like something completely different, and I mean way out there. Most of the time I'll eat some bangers and mash quite happily, but every so often, I want a combination Thai banana flower salad drizzled in seaweed oil on a lily pad in the middle of a bowl of shark fin soup.

So I guess I was just asking if I could get that with crime fiction. I completely agree that wankery is wankery, and experiment for the sake of it is mostly pointless, but it doesn't mean that some people out there shouldn't strive for something new.

I think that's enough buts from me today. :)


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