Family Resemblance: An Anthology and Exploration of 8 Hybrid Literary Genres

Edited by Marcela Sulak and Jacqueline Kolosov. Rose Metal (rosemetalpress.com), $17.95 trade paper (464p) ISBN 978-1-941628-02-7
In this densely packed anthology, Sulak and Kolosov have undertaken the ambitious project of creating a taxonomy of hybrid literary forms. The editors, both writers and teachers, have identified eight evolving genres—lyric essay, epistolary writing, poetic memoir, prose poetry, performative writing, short-form nonfiction, flash fiction, and “pictures made of words”—and for each genre have recruited five or six writers to share excerpts of their work, accompanied by a brief introduction. One challenge of the hybrid form is defining it. In the preface and afterword, respectively provided by Sulak and Kolosov, as well as in Susanne Paoloa Antonetta’s introduction, questions of classification are thoughtfully debated, but to little end: the distinctions among the different genres remain troublingly vague. Sulak and Kolosov have assembled a mighty collection of essayists and poets, including Maggie Nelson, Terrance Hayes, Etgar Keret, Nick Flynn, and David Shields, and their insights into their own creative processes give the book its value. However, the anthology’s ambition limits its effectiveness; with 43 authors and 11 introductory and supplementary essays on genre and hybridity, the book feels claustrophobic, and the individual selections have little room to breathe. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/28/2015
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