Richard (Cory) Kostelanetz Peter Frank - Essay

Peter Frank

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Fiction is the last battleground between modernism and the academy, and is the best demonstration of the alliance and pattern of succession that modernism and post-modernism have established. The "innovative fictions" sampled in Breakthrough Fictioneers are seen by editor Richard Kostelanetz as moving…. In proving his point Kostelanetz draws on the work of ninety-eight authors, the inclusion of some of whom in an anthology of "fiction" may seem far-fetched, no matter how generous the rationale. But that rationale is elucidated with convincing insight with the observation that "fictions … favor sequential forms (and yet remain distinct from film), or the difference between the material on one page and its successors (and predecessors) often generates the work's internal event." The presence of "straight" poetry, theater, photography, comic strip, and other orthodox forms seems justified: the category of fiction is strained, but it ought to be. To burst its parameters, as many of the authors do here, is not to obliterate its core but only to bring that core into conjunction with other art forms. Kostelanetz, premier anthologist of the new sensibility, has too adventurous a mind to follow the safe, shopworn selections, smorgasbord nods, or cronyism masking as aesthetic stance by which legions of backs have discredited the notion of "anthology" and given it a status beneath that of the digest. He has assembled some tremendously provocative collections; this one—powered by his clear polemical position, which he underscores with pithy epigraphs (by Ortega y Gasset, Northrop Frye, Robbe-Grillet, Moholy-Nagy, et al)—is one of his best. (pp. 52-3)

Peter Frank, in a review of "Breakthrough Fictioneers," in his Something Else Press: An Annotated Bibliography (reprinted by permission of the publisher, McPherson & Company, New Paltz, NY), McPherson & Co., 1983, pp. 52-3.