Fiction That’s Anything but Conventional

Lance Olsen

From his introduction by Megan Marshall, author Lance Olsen has been described as a “surrealist” artist writing in “collage-prose” at a reading from his latest book, Calendar of Regrets, Wednesday night at San Diego State University.  Olsen has been described as a man who pushes the boundaries of what we consider modern fiction.  From style to form to composition, Olsen is constantly looking for new ways to change what we consider acceptable and aesthetically appealing within fictional writing.  This is no more evident than with his newest novel.  His book is composed of twelve different narratives, loosely interwoven, but very different from one another in every way you can think.  Each narrative is written for a month of the year beginning with September and ending in, again, September.  Some of the narratives are written in traditional form reading from right to left, others are words bordering along the page reading in a clockwise fashion while some chapters tell their story through picture captions.  Though strange and very unconventional, this style certainly draws the reader’s interest.

The reading ends with something very different from a traditional book reading altogether, but with a short film.  From Olsen’s upcoming work, we are offered a preview of a short film he is creating.  It features flash images accompanied with a reading from one of his novels.  The film contains recurring images of a spiral jetty and a sonogram, among other things, and the words loosely reflect what is happening on the screen.  The marrying of these two aspects is supposed to convey something that Olsen refers to as “inropology”, which is a study of systems running down.  Needless to say, the film was surreal and interpretive but very engaging and interesting.  Lance Olsen is someone who isn’t afraid of the unconventional, but is a person who embraces this within his work.  I look forward to seeing what more he has to offer the literary and film communities down the road.

To find out more about Lance Olsen and his works, visit his website here

To learn more about the living writers series at San Diego State University, visit here 

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