The edge becomes the mainland soon enough: this much we know. One generation’s original idea is another generation’s old hat. Sometimes, often, it takes less than a generation. Yesterday’s baby is over the hill. You’ve got to eat your bananas whilst they’re green.
I’ve been reading Fjona Uu’s new book, The Brontesaurus Sisters (not The Brontosaurus Sisters, as some have suggested) and I’ve been pondering a few things. For instance, how does Uu fit into the ‘Mash-Up’ scene? Her first novel, Lava in a Cold Climate was, in one sense, a cross between several fictional forms – the early twentieth century comic novel, the late twentieth century apocalyptic novel and a mid-twentieth century Marxist text. Her second novel, Pincers in the Tower, melded historical fiction together with the absurd – a delicate balance, done with aplomb. The Brontesaurus Sisters, meanwhile, throws about half a dozen genres into the mix, effortlessly shifting between the gothic and the pre-historic, the romantic and semantics. In doing so, however, Uu moves dangerously close to the contemporary tradition mentioned above. I refer, in particular, to the vogue for ‘monster mash’ (see here for a more thorough description).
The question is, what differentiates Uu’s The Brontesaurus Sisters from recent best–seller Pride and Prejudice and Zombies? Has Uu, who originally turned to the mash-up as a means of expressing sincere Marxist sympathies, found herself part of a passing trend instead? She’s a talented writer, certainly, but she nonetheless runs the risk of getting caught up in a group of writers of lesser ability. Which is to say that perhaps it’s time she looked at another means of achieving her intellectual aims. Messing about with monsters, at this point in time, is only going to get her mis-categorized.