Guest Post: The Death of Fiction as Mind Movie

by Paul Jessup

Some things I’m influenced by currently:

  • Barth’s Literature of Exhaustion essay
  • Book: The Pleasures of Japanese Literature
  • Julio Cortázar’s  Hopscotch
  • The idea of scenes floating in amber, connected but not connected, distant yet apart
  • Ideas on what novels can be, what experiences it can talk about
  • Can something wear the face of a novel, yet underneath be something else? Can it be a madman wearing a novel mask, stretched with letters on a novel Halloween costume, but if you get too close he bites you and barks at you and you see if for the truth it is?
  • Books are like memory: subjective lies that define us symbolically
  • I’m tired of OMG KEWL STUFF. This detritus of internet mental garbage that barrages us every day like a pop culture stew of sigils, drowning us in their signs
  • What is experimental literature Vol 1
  • and
  • What is experimental literature Vol 2
  • I’m sick of people acting all hard ass and swearing when they’re blogging about writing. Fuck yeah! Fuck you.  It’s not personality. It’s the symbols of Fight Club that a nascent Generation consumed, devoured, digested, and now spews back into a WordPress interface. It’s not clever, creative, or angsty. It’s someone else’s mental space a generation has claimed for it’s own.
  • I’m also exhausted from all this internet detritus disguised as novels and sold on the Kindle. It’s worse than walking through a bookstore these days. You can’t find an original thought, it’s all Twilight rip offs, thrillers, Harry Potter rip offs, etc., etc. It’s all someone else’s imagination, retyped with the variables renamed, in hopes they can skim a fortune off the NEXT HAWT THING.
  • The underground used to be the place to go for interesting/edgy/weird stuff. Small press is still the best place for that. I refuse to call Self-Published Kindle authors indie. Nothing indie about them.
  • It seems I’ve gotten off track, but I haven’t. This ties in to what I’m talking about above: the exhaustion of our cultural mindspace. The drowning in symbols, the idea of another’s thoughts taking up residence in our brain, forcing our thoughts to mirror theirs
  • For example: when was the last time you saw a movie or a read a book without any idea at all what you were getting into? Trailers, reviews, previews, critical essays: they all clog our experiences, taking away our own ability to experience it, bit by bit, until the only thing left is someone else’s experience, taking up residence in your mind
  • It’s tiring, living someone else’s life for so long. Unplug! Unplug!
  • An interesting book or movie is one that cannot be taken apart and compartmentalized like that. If it can be summed up in a two sentence elevator pitch, then it does not have room to breathe. If it defies complex explanation, that is a book or movie/etc that lets you breathe
  • It is an experience that becomes solely individual, cannot be replicated in each, but only discusses, existing in a space between two people, floating in a conversational bridge
  • Books are not movies. A strength in a book is breaking away from NOVEL as format, from mind movie as format, from the structure of suspension bridge (suspense as in thriller) to plot. Reading is not a passive sport, it should always be active, surprising.


Paul Jessup has been published in a slew of magazines(in print & online) and a mess of anthologies. He has a short story collection out (Glass Coffin Girls) published in the UK by PS Publishing, has a novella published by Apex Books (Open Your Eyes), and has had a graphic novel published by Chronicle Books.

He was also a Recipient of KSU’s Virginia Perryman Award for excellence in freshman short story writing in 2000.

You can follow him on Twitter with @pauljessup or on Google Plus with +Paul Jessup