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The Literary Life: Michael Stutz, Net Generation Seeker

Michael Stutz began exploring the literary/underground/DIY culture of the Internet as a writer for Wired and Rolling Stone so long ago that, way back when i first showed up (which was a long time ago), he was already there to show me around. After a long self-imposed separation from the online world, he has now returned with a three-volume novel chronicling the entire life of a connoisseur of connected culture. Meet Michael Stutz.
Levi: Your novel Circuits of the Wind: A Legend of the Net Age is a coming-of-age tale, hearkening back to other classics of the genre from Henry Fielding's Tom Jones to J. D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye. But your hero's world is a new one for fiction: the emerging society of online culture, from the early Unix dial-up BBS's of the 1980s to the dot-com mania of the 90s to the more scattered social networking scene of today. What kind of reaction are you getting from readers to the idea that a life lived largely online is one worthy of heroic fiction?
Michael: The novelist Tony D'Souza just called the book's hero, Ray Valentine, "the Everyman of the wired age," so it seems to be natural -- and remember McLuhan: "technology forces us to live mythically." Yet, you know, heroic fiction of the kind we're talking about is almost nonexistent in contemporary literary fiction. Arther S. Trace, Jr., an outsider intellectual, wrote a powerful, prescient book in the early 70s called The Future of Literature. This is about the only book of literary theory to map out and show the decline of heroic fiction. It was a long process, but Trace shows how it really tanks in the day of postmodernism. And you know what? I've always been repelled by postmodernism -- in everything, from literature to architecture. I don't identify with it or fit in with it at all. For decades we've had the postmodern "antihero" in fiction, and everything has to be ironic and heartless, and that just doesn't connect with me. I'm Beat and before. Bring me back to that and let's go off in a whole new direction and forget all this other stuff. I want to do something totally different. So if the classical hero is the way, and the new world of the net is my ineluctable material, the combination is pretty much the way it had to be.
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"It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by. How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment? For the moment passes, it is forgotten; the mood is gone; life itself is gone. That is where the writer scores over his fellows: he catches the changes of his mind on the hop."
Vita Sackville-West

Random picks

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  • The concept and potential of affiliate marketing isn't known by everyone especially if these people are spending more time on the job rather than online. But once you know how lucrative affiliate marketing can get, you might be pressed to find some time to get into the activities as well only to find out that there are lots of people online that are doing it along with some experts that continue to push their affiliates forward.
  • Housing Works Bookstore has organized a group reading of Melville’s “Bartelby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street” in support of Occupy Wall Street tomorrow. Come join us if you’re free.
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Fast fact about writing

Creative writing is considered to be any writing, fiction, poetry, or non-fiction, that goes outside the bounds of normal professional, journalistic, academic, and technical forms of literature.