“Important” books like that have been why the term “literature” has always had a bad rap – especially 19ths and 20th century literature. Because, you will notice, that Lord of the Rings is rarely put in the literature section of a bookstore – if ever. I know of no English Literature program that will include Lord of the Rings as part of the curriculum. No. For “literature,” people are subjected to Steinbeck, or Lord of the Flies, or half of Russian literature, which makes you want to slit your wrists by the time you're done. To heck with being subversive, I would submit that much of the drivel labeled as “literature” is in fact corrosive to the human spirit, if not the human soul.
So, that's why Superversive fiction has always been a mystery to me – not because I didn't understand the concept, but because I didn't see the need for the term. Growing up, I always understood the difference between fiction that edifies and fiction that doesn't. Which was my original problem with the concept of Superversive fiction. Shouldn't all fiction be Superversive?
Obviously, the deeper one looks at some of the fiction being shoved into the face of the general population, the more it becomes apparent that we need a Superversive movement, mostly because of all the works being labeled “important” and then thrust into the face of the general reading public, insisting that we should read it. Too much fiction tries to be “important” fiction, and in being “important,” goes for “reality” … only their reality is grim, dismal, and amazingly Unreal. If you're trying for literature, and making it a matter of despair, you're doing it wrong. Because, sorry, I've met people whose lives have been misery, and hope is quite abundant in them. To be Jean Paul Sartre about life is to invite suicide.
J. Michael Straczynski, in his comic The Book of Lost Souls, has one tale of a street artist who recently lost her boyfriend to drug abuse. Soon after, the mural she made of him has come alive, and is talking to her … and telling her to come and join him, offering her a needle. And it is not the voice of a demon, or a monster, but, as our hero explains,
“It is the voice of reason and resentment .… The voice of madness is the voice that Believes, despite all of the evidence to the contrary … that sustains us when logic demands that we surrender to the louder voice – the voice of reason, and resentment. And it always comes in the guise of those who love us most, who want only the best for us …. Someimes their motives are pure, wishing only to save us from pain. And sometimes the pain they wish to spare is their own, because if you can be convinced to set aside your own dreams, they can remain comfortable with their decision to do the same. The Voice of reason is the voice that tells us that our dreams are foolish ….[it sometimes becomes] a genius loci, the spirit of the place. And the spirit of this place is despair.”And that's the problem with those “literary” souls who want to sacrifice their characters, and their audience, on an alter of “reality.” Sometimes, just because something is “rational,” doesn't necessarily make it true.
This concept of “the real” is as unreal as Tolstoy's lie, that "All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way," an idea that probably requires being Russian to believe. Is there any more Russian concept than to believe that being happy is bland and uniform, but being miserable is unique? It is a lie, but perhaps Tolstoy didn't know that at the time. If those of the self proclaimed literati truly see the world as miserable as they write it, it does make me wonder why the authors in question just don't do away with themselves and leave the rest of us alone.
At the end of the day, Superversive fiction – any fiction worth its salt – could be summed up by GK Chesterton: “Fairy tales are more than true, not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”
Which makes them a thousand times more real than anything most recent “literature” has to offer.