For a long time, Eastern Europe has resembled nothing so much as Borges's image: shreds of territory slowly rotting across the map. We invite contributors to assist us in constructing the postmodern map of the former Iron Curtain countries, by examining the various genres, political actions, and narrative arts practiced there. Although these regions have only recently been introduced to hyperconsumerism and the post-industrial society, its literatures demonstrate all the ambivalent and antagonistic features of postmodernism, such as formal experimentation, narrative self-consciousness, "magicking the real," and minimalist story-telling. Drawing influences from its massive cultural heritage and ongoing political turbulence (its territorial and ideological flame wars), East European pomo suffers no shortage of gifted, remarkable writers of an experimental cast, such as Milorad Pavic, whose work (the print equivalent to a hypertext) will be featured in the issue.
I don't think the ideas were 'in the air'; rather, all of us found ourselves at the same stoplights in different cities at the same time. When the lights changed, we all crossed the streets.
Postmodernism can be equated to a computer icon which takes us into the metonymic world of unknown textual possibilities. In America, it is all about turning the Nietzschean "prisonhouse of language" into the Disneyfied playhouse of language, whereas in Eastern Europe everything's become a "playhouse of (hi)stories": serious issues of repression, dictatorship, and manipulation are being laughed at, played with, and turned into a hilarious travesty, while national histories are being told, retold, lied about, and twisted into pomo plots and discourses. Kis and Kundera find their stories in histories--in documents and national destinies. Milorad Pavic constructs a lexicography in which history and metahistory are converted into a text. Contemporary Russian writers, from the late Dovlatov and Limonov to Victor Pelevin, observe the dissolution of their culture and tradition in the age of McDonald's and American cars.
Can the changes on the map of Eastern Europe provoke changes in writing? How does history affect the text? In what way do new national borders restrict the old patterns and inflect the emerging global system? Do we still observe the change of stoplights, or do we not care if the signs read "walk" or "don't walk"?
We welcome reviews of books which deploy postmodern ideas in such recently bordered Zones as Russia, Poland, Yugoslavia, Romania, and Hungary. We will present a few samples of contemporary fiction, friction, and poetry in order to provoke discussion of its features and maybe a hypertextual iconic close reading. Worth considering is Milorad Pavic's idea of ex libris converting into an ex cd rom.
ebr is an electronic book review, an online forum allowing critical writers to present their work on the Internet. We are committed to reviewing (literally, seeing again) every aspect of book culture--fiction, poetry, criticism, and the arts--in the context of emerging media. At the same time, ebr is a review of electronic books, promoting translations and transformations from print to screen, and covering literary work that can only be read in electronic formats. To facilitate print/screen collaborations, and as a service to writers whose primary domain is print, ebr plans on sharing reviews with various print journals. Our first issue has appeared as a focuse of The American Book Review, and particular essays from ebrs 1-4have appeared in various academic and mainstream journals, both online and in print (including Emigre, C-theory and The Postfeminist Playground). We'd be interested in hearing from editors who would like to discuss arrangements for sharing reviews in the future.
For future issues, we are soliciting critical writing not only on, but in hypertext. We are interested especially in exploring narratives whose logic is as much visual as verbal, and we prefer thoughtful overviews, polemics, and review essays to evaluations of single works. Authors are encouraged to mark up their essays in html and, if possible, to put them at their own web sites for us to download. Otherwise, you should send us hard copy and a disk (preferably formatted for IBM machines). If you use a Mac, please format the disk for pc use, and save an additional version as a text file.
Essays should follow the general format of the essays and reviews that have appeared in the most recent issues of ebr. While we have no proscriptions against specialized language or scholarly rigor, we request that endnotes be kept to a minimum (or that they should be worked unobtrusively into the design of the screen-page). Since we are not a peer review journal, we discourage reviews that simply verify an author's or the reviewer's credentials. We prefer not to assign novels to novelists, books of poetry to poets, or academic books to professor-critics. Interdisciplinary work is encouraged when attention is paid to the methods, values, and professional protocols of each of the fields under discussion. References to web sites or online books should be accompanied by the appropriate URLs.