Recently, we watched Before the Devil Knows You're Dead. The plot unfolds in an annoying back and forth manner, from before the accident to after. It's become a standard issue plot arranger for the past twenty years especially--except the arrangement needs a viewer to actually care about the chain of events that occurred before the after. The style causes a viewer to spend more time with the film than a straight narrative because there's less immediate information. It nearly broke my heart to see the great Albert Finney in such a tottering role. I had just watched his Saturday Night and Sunday Morning the week prior and was blown away.
Something in the above reminded me of what I had been thinking about yesterday. I was thinking about how much I would like to read an avant-garde/experimental writer/poet writing honest criticism of other avant-garde/experimental writers/poets. I don't mean to suggest that one should tear another down for sport, but to actually test the writing's thinking out, to not just sit there and say, "Oh, it's great--it's experimental writing." I mention this, because I almost always get this feeling of disappointment when I'm reading, for instance, the man from Philly's reviews, especially of his friends. The reviews write themselves under the simplest of grids--I know the person, they've published with the same presses, etc.
If one does criticize sacred poetry cows, one then almost always--and quickly--gets lumped into an awful lot of reactionaries, of people truly disinterested in experimentation or, really, just writing in general. This is a false move with bad mojo. I believe it takes more kindness, more subtlety, more honesty, to explain why an experimental piece doesn't "work" for one, than to just champion the work blindly because of various attendant, non-textual issues (who they are, where they went to school, who they know, etc.) An adult should be able to speak to another adult and explain what's bothering them--and this should include experimental writing and experimental writers. But be kind.