Here’s an excerpt from The Notebooks of Robert Frost (ran across this on a web site — sounds like a great book, but dig the price tag! Ouch.):
Adventurous is not experimental. Experiment belongs to the laboratory. Adventure to life. Much of recent art has been merely experimental. It tries poetry with first one element then another omitted. It leaves out the head. Then it is too emotional. It leaves out the heart. Then it is too intellectual. It leaves out the feet. Then it is free verse. Adventure ends in the poorhouse. Experiment in the madhouse.
Surely, this could apply to prose as well as poetry.
But what is Frost getting at here? I agree that “experimental” prose and poetry that I’ve read strikes me as contrived, overly conscious and overanalytical. Head games.
However, maybe a little experimentation is in order to pave the way to a true adventure.
I am not a huge fan of experimental fiction; I like a little story with my reading, thank you very much. But I also feel I need to be more open to it, to take what it gives in terms of pushing the boundaries so the heart can follow the head into the next enlightenment.
What do you think about so-called “experimental” work? What types of experimental fiction have you read, that you would recommend to one who does not prefer to be working in the laboratory?