By David James
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Extra resources for Contemporary British Fiction and the Artistry of Space: Style, Landscape, Perception
B u t o n e can refu se to aesth eticize m obility w h ile still retaining, as Andrew G ibson has d o n e , w hat is co n cep tu ally fruitful a b ou t th e id ea o f read in g as ex p lo r a tio n . Every ‘p a th ’ in to ea ch ep iso d e, w rites G ib son , ‘m od ifies th e narrative situ a tio n s accordingly. T h e r e is th u s n o fix ed o r sin g le narrative space in this ad ven tu re. T h e r e is only a set o f p o ten tials w hich can b e activated in d ifferen t ways, an d w h ere e a c h acti vation is an ev e n t ’.
O v er’ that ch a n g e, R ush d ie offers an atlas o f th e co n tem p orary sc en e in w hich so ‘few writers’ se em ab le to devolve narrative co n v en tio n s w hen o fferin g social com m en tary. H e appears to prescribe a d a u n tin g path towards creative su ccess by p rescrib in g writers a level o f tech n ical exp ertise, hard to Landscape a n d N arrative Aesthetics 35 acco m p lish , an d attainable o n ly b y th e m ost a rd en t in an y giv en w riting com m unity. W ith this p ecu lia r vocabulary o f spatial tropes, R ush d ie attem pts to chart the statu s o f form al in ven tion as a ‘lan d scap e’ so lely fo r th e brave.
S uch w riters tread n ew p aths th rou gh apparently lo ca lized situ ation s w hile ch a lle n g in g received id eas o f n a tio n h o o d , class id en tity a n d b elo n g in g . M oving b etw een su ch estab lish ed an d em e r g in g novelists. Contemporary British Fiction a n d the A rtistry o f Space h igh ligh ts th e way ou r read in g o f lan d scap e d escrip tion can crea te d istinctive an d su rp rising affinities b etw e en m o d es, revealing the way sp ace h a s rem ain ed a stylistic catalyst fo r som e o f th e m o st in novative writ ers in Britain today.