Fictions Present

Fictions Present

Joseph Tabbi

Joseph Tabbi introduces the thread and gathers prior essays by fiction writers on fiction writing.

Everything that happens, happens now.

Projects in development bring forward past publications, in ‘gatherings’ that ebr’s editors create each time a new ‘thread’ is introduced.

At the moment (Fall 2006) we anticipate the appearance of a print volume, Fiction’s Present, edited by Jeffrey Dileo and longtime ebr contributor, R. M. Berry. And with that ‘longtime,’ we recall what is by now a substantial set of ebr essays by Berry and numerous other writers of fiction. These essays, collected now under the thread title, Fictions Present, reaffirm the ‘presentist’ bias in electronic publishing and in ebr particularly, since our non-periodical, continuous publication is designed to keep the archive, much of it, current.

Fictions Present are also about web presence, another living archive. In 2001, Alt-X’s Black Ice magazine, originally a print publication that has been exclusively electronic since the mid-90s, features a cluster of innovative writing from various authors in the FC2 stable. For the past several years, FC2 (formerly Fiction Collective, founded in 1977 by Ron Sukenick), now under the direction of author Lance Olsen, has been responsible for recruiting many of the authors from the Press with which he is associated. The avant garde has no fixed address, however, and no publishing enterprise is ever, totally, ‘independent.’ At best, a publication can be interdependent, where writers themselves have a say in what gets published, and how their work is presented in various media. Over the years, Olsen has created a sizable forum for novelists writing on novelists, for an audience not only of novelists but also those critical writers who keep the discussion of novels going.

We present critical writing not as an afterthought, but as an integral element in the creation of literary fictions.

In gathering critical writing by imaginative authors, our aim is not to review books instantly. Reviews in print media often arrive much faster than the more considered treatment one finds in ebr.

An appearance in print generally does not mean that current writing is going to remain available, or up for discussion, for long.

So rather than attempt to pace our own writing with the narrow shelf-life of the books we review, at ebr we prefer to cover new work in something like the continuing present in which the work is created, in which it is received, and in which it eventually stops being “new.”

We are proceding on the principle that the network of literary writers is itself the first, best audience for literary writing.

Instead of making it new: make it present.

The authors inaugurating the Fictions Present include Ted Pelton, Rob Swigart, Tim Keane, and Sascha Pohlmann.

The current gathering also brings together some half dozen reviews, two interviews, a conference report, and one short story. A new interview with Harry Mathews is presented along with what is by now a substantial body of work by and about Mathews. Additionally, we re-present each of the essays commissioned by Olsen: works by and about Berry, Martone, Corin, Hauser and Yuknavitch, Federman, Maso, Shakar, and Olsen himself.