generalizations about ‘young writers’ orn’new writing’ are also true of me.” Innother words, the book is slightly taintednwith the flavor of sour grapes. He contendsnthat there is a mob that controlsnwhat’s reviewed, promoted, and thusnread. These people, or mobsters, don’tnshare his interests in, say, the late “greatnpolyartist of modernism” L. Moholy-nNagy (so Kostelanetz calls him in ThenAvant-Garde Tradition of Literature, anbook that’s emerged from Buffalo, NewnYork, not the City) and his kin, so bynconducting a grand jury in print, Insuspect, Kostelanetz wants to have thenmalefactors stand indicted—or at leastnshamed—and so, hopefully, repent. It isna curious attempt: who heard him railingnin the empty room while the audiencenwas elsewhere, observing those recommendednby the guys and molls fromnNew York?nX here are many writers today aboutnwhom little is heard, or at least I’vendetected little discussion. They are worthnauditing, for they very well may turn outnto be the future in literature. Or theynmay all be simply gamesters and schemesters—thoughnI personally doubt it.nWhile I hold no brief for them, I thinknthese writers should be examined. One isnRaymond Federman, a proponent ofn”Surfiction,” which he defines as “thenonly fiction that still means somethingntoday . . . that kind of fiction that tries tonexplore the possibilities of fiction; thenkind of fiction that challenges the traditionnthat governs it; the kind of fictionnthat constantly renews our faith in man’snimagination and not in man’s distortednvision of reality—that reveals man’s irrauonalitynrather than man’s rationality.”nFederman, the final clause notwithstanding,nis not a lunatic. His word surfictionnsimply has its root in surrealism;nabout surrealists such as Breton, Soupault,nand Eluard, Moholy-Nagy wrote:n”They were eager to discover stimulinwhich had been neglected in the pastnbecause of an overzealous interpretationnof reality based only upon familiar externalnexperiences. Surrealism answered thenlO^m^^iiH^MnChronicles of Cttltorenofficial reality of daytime logic with then’omnipotence of the dream.’ With emphasisnon the realm of the subconscious.”nFederman isn’t far from Oscar Wilde’snpoint about life reflecting art. Surfictioneersnsimply assert that individuals givenmeaning to exterior events as well as toninternal feelings and thoughts. As such,nfiction should not be seen as somethingnchiseled in granite. That is, ^CK seems,nby common assent, to be a correctw^y tonwrite fiction. The surfictioneers say thatnis nonsense. For example, most readersnare comfortable with a novel in whichnthere are clearly defined characters whonmove through a recognizable setting.nScience fiction, for example, is often notntolerated by readers because it can violatenthis convention with alien characters on anstrange planet where accepted rules ofnlogic don’t apply. Moreover, the charactersnmust operate within this setting in anreasonable manner toward a conclusivenconclusion. Erotic literature, its othernshortcomings aside, tends to be unacceptablenbecause the characters functionnatypically (typical only of a French marquisnor Hollywood producer) and thenendings, if not death, are typically unfinished:nnothing has been worked out;nthere would be, if the novel were to continue,nsimply more of the same. But thensurfictioneers take the position that thenreaders of fiction are intelligent enoughnto divine their own meanings in novels;nthese writers insist on the right to benmore allusive, to ^mt fictions.nRonald Sukenick writes in an essaynthat appears in Surfiction (Swallow Press,nnn1973) “The New Tradition in Fiction”:n”We have to learn to think about a novelnas a concrete structure rather than annallegory, existing in the realm of experiencenrather than of discursive meaningnand available to multiple interpretationnor none, depending on how you feelnabout it—like the way that girl pressednagainst you in the subway.” That similenis the best expression I’ve come acrossnthat describes this new trend—not tradition—innfiction. In a generally acceptednnovel of the early 20th century, the girlnwould press against an entrepreneur whonhappened to be in the subway by accidentn(his new automobile had a breakdownnand there were no car-orientednmechanics in the business district). Henwould respond to the pressure by takingnthe underfed seamstress to dinner in anlush restaurant, where they’d be spottednby one of his wife’s friends, who wouldnthen . . . There would be no deviationnfrom this causal linking. In surfictionnsomething could happen, everythingncould happen: whatever happens is basicallynup to the reader, who is forced tonwork with the writer. As Raymond Federmannputs it: “Only through the jointnefforts of the reader and creator (as well asnthat of the characters and narrators) will anmeaning possibly be extracted from thenfictitious discourse. The new fiction willnnot create a semblance or order, it will offernitself for order and ordering.” In effect,nthen, two things are simultaneouslynhappening in this approach to fiction.nOne: the surfictioneers are insisting thatnfiction and that which it reflects, life, arententative, both existing to be givennmeaning. This accounts, for example,nfor the titles of two of Federman’s novels:nDouble or Nothing and Take It or LeavenIt—a gamble and a choice. Two: they arenpointing out that fiction is a construction,nan artifact. One approach used bynWalter Abish in Alphabetical Afiica is tonconstruct a novel around a modified lipogram:nchapter titles are letters; withinnchapter A, for example, only words beginningnwith the letter a are used (e.g.,n”as author again attempts an agonizingnalphabetical appraisal”).n