Magical Feelism in Kevin Brockmeier’s Pants

I like this n+1 review of Kevin Brockmeier’s work for two reasons. The first is because it introduces the literary term “Magic Feelism,” an expression I wish I had coined:

Thus sadness is a literary strategy. I have come to think of [Kevin] Brockmeier’s version, so reliant on the tropes of science fiction and fantasy, as Magic Feelism. The stories in [The View from the Seventh Layer] tend toward a common moral: Life inevitably ends in death, which is necessarily sad, yet death may allow us, magically, to perceive the beauty inherent in the most mundane aspects of life and thus, glory beheld, to feel happy.

If you are going to evoke powerful emotion in your writing, you better have something to back it up besides magic.

Magic Feelism—and Brockmeier is exemplary but not alone in deploying this style—asserts emotions without inspecting them. It is never comic, but it is often cute.

The second reason I like the n+1 piece is because Christian Lorentzen inadvertently gives me new criteria for judging fiction: don’t just read critically, count the erections.

“Home Videos” is told by a producer of a show indistinguishable from America’s Funniest Home Videos, who is fired for sneaking edgy pieces of video art onto the air. In the story’s favor, it does contain one of two erections I counted in the collection…

In the future, when I prepare my book reviews, I will not only make notes on character, point of view, style, and scene. I will also keep a working spreadsheet of all erections.

I’m not sure VQR is ready for me to blog for them.

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Published: April 2, 2008