David Anthony’s Durham’s The Other Lands

(Gorgeous cover!)

I just posted a really interesting interview with David Anthony Durham on Omnivoracious–go check it out.

Here’s an excerpt:

Amazon.com: There’s been a lot of talk lately about “plot” and the idea that literary fiction tends to not have “plot” because of an impression that in literary fiction story comes out of characterization. Whereas genre fiction, including fantasy, apparently has “plot” that’s more readily identifiable as such because the characters are subordinate to plot. Do you think this is an accurate depiction? What does plot mean to you? How would you frame such a discussion?

Durham: Honestly, I’m weary of thinking of the differences and frictions between genre and literary fiction. I’ve been right in the middle of it for too long, and the debates around things like plot often seem less about substance and more about personal preference. I spent a lot of time doing all sorts of whitewater-related stuff. When I was raft guiding I enjoyed taking the masses down rapids. Unskilled and clueless as they were, it could still be a lot of fun crashing downstream, and there could still be some artistry in it. But I also liked whitewater canoeing, which requires fine-tuned skill and technique. It’s slower, and a lot more time is spent in eddies, looking upstream as much as down, having to communicate and think each coming maneuver out.

If you ask avid paddlers which one is better–purer, more of worth–you’ll get strong opinions, mostly in keeping with what each paddler personally likes best. But if you ask me which is better, I’d say they’re just different, with things to offer in either case. And then I’d add that I prefer whitewater kayaking anyway: requires a lot of technique, but provides a great vehicle for roaring down big rapids.

That’s about the way I feel about literary/genre and plot/character debates. True enough, non-linear character ruminations might be more the stuff of literary fiction. Throttle down plot progression may be more obviously the stuff of genre fiction. But that’s only if you’re choosing to focus on generalities. There’s plenty of overlap. Personally, I like to kayak along using elements of both. That’s what I try to do in my work.

4 comments on “David Anthony’s Durham’s The Other Lands

  1. Good interview. I liked Acacia a lot, and am looking forward to the second volume. Also, I have to say that the idea of taking an established fantasy world and then writing a new volume set in the far future of that fantasy world, as Durham suggests at the end of the interview, sounds really intriguing.

  2. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    Greg–Yeah, very cool. I can attest that even setting something 100 years later, as with Finch, has a similar effect.

  3. James says:

    I’ve been very resistant to starting uncompleted multi-volume series lately, but Acacia was tempting and this new one is further weakening my stance. The cover is good, isn’t it? A straight-up epic fantasy look, but solidly executed.

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