Drawing from contemporary novels such as Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, and the work of Margaret Atwood and William Gibson (to name a few), this book examines dystopian literature produced by North American authors between the signing of NAFTA (1994) and the tenth anniversary of 9/11 (2011). As the texts illustrate, awareness of and deep concern about perceived vulnerabilities—ends of water, oil, food, capitalism, empires, stable climates, ways of life, non-human species, and entire human civilizations—have become central to public discourseover the same period.
By asking questions such as “What are the distinctive qualities of post-NAFTA North American dystopian literature?” and “What does this literature reflect about the tensions and contradictions of the inchoate continental community of North America?” Blast, Corrupt, Dismantle, Erase serves to resituate dystopian writing within a particular geo-social setting and introduce a productive means to understand both North American dystopian writing and its relevant engagements with a restricted, mapped reality.
The book proposes four dominant modes of avant-garde production: “Concrete Poetics,” which accentuates the visual and material aspects of language; “Language Writing,” which challenges the interconnection between words and things; “Identity Writing,” which interrogates the self and its sociopolitical position; and “Copyleft Poetics,” which undermines our habitual assumptions about the ownership of expression. A fifth section commemorates the importance of the Centennial in the 1960s at a time when avant-garde cultures in Canada began to emerge.
Readers of this book will become familiar with some of the most challenging works of literature—and their creators—that this country has ever produced. From Concrete Poetry in the 1960s through to Indigenous Literature in the 2010s, Avant Canada offers the most sweeping study of the literary avant-garde in Canada to date.