My second book, Necropolis, is a humorous work of dark fiction about a psychopath, who works for the Burials and Cemeteries department in his local council. Necropolis could be described as Transgressive fiction, and it is for this reason that I have dedicated two blog posts to the subject.
Protagonists in Transgressive literature are in one form or other rebelling against society. Due to this they may appear to be anti-social, nihilistic or even sociopathic. Transgressive literature deals with potentially controversial subjects such as sex, drugs, crime, violence and paraphilia.
Last week we looked at a number of early and mid 20th Century authors, who wrote books that could be labelled as Transgressive. The authors were James Joyce, D.H. Lawrence, Vladimir Nabokov and William S. Burroughs. This week we continue in the same vein with:
Notable Transgressive Works: Post Office, Factotum, Women, Ham on Rye
Charles Bukowski’s writing could best be described as Dirty realism and/or Transgressive literature. Heavily influenced by his home city of Los Angeles, Bukowski wrote about disillusionment, alcohol consumption, women, a loathing of authority and the dehumanising nature of low-level work, all presented in his unique visceral writing style. His seminal work, Post Office, is a semi-autobiographical account of his years of drudgery at the post office prior to writing the book by the same name. Bukowski is a cult figure, whose writing remains popular to this day, despite the fact that he has been accused by some of being misogynistic.
Click here to read my blog post about Charles Bukowski
Hunter S. Thompson
Notable Transgressive Works: Hells Angels, Fear And Loathing in Las Vegas, The Rum Diary
Hunter S. Thompson was a controversial author and journalist with a penchant for alcohol, drugs and guns. The Gonzo Journalist’s most famous work, the cult classic, Fear And Loathing in Las Vegas, is about a journalist and his attorney consuming a vast array of pharmaceuticals in Las Vegas. First published in nineteen seventy-one against the backdrop of Vietnam, and President Nixon’s declaration of war on drugs, the book can be viewed as a savage indictment of a corrupt, violent, ignorant, polarised and disillusioned nation, hell-bent on a path to self-destruction.
Click here to read my blog post about Hunter S. Thompson
Click here to read my review of Fear And Loathing in Las Vegas
Notable Transgressive Works: Trainspotting, The Acid House, Skagboys, Filth, Porno
As the titles of many of the iconic Scottish writer’s books suggest, Irvine Welsh’s controversial themes include, drug abuse, soccer hooliganism, sexual perversion, inner city poverty and brutality. His first book, Trainspotting, about Scottish housing scheme dwelling heroin addicts, disgusted some in the literary world, was later adapted for the cinema and is now regarded as a cult classic. Perhaps Welsh’s most controversial book, Filth, has a tapeworm afflicted, misanthropic, corrupt policeman as its protagonist, whose pastimes include sexual abuse and gorging on junk good, alcohol and cocaine.
Bret Easton Ellis
Notable Transgressive Works: Less Than Zero, American Psycho, Glamorama, The Informers
Disillusioned, nihilistic and even sociopathic characters are the staple of cult author Bret Easton Ellis’s books. His most famous work, the infamous American Psycho, caused outrage even before it was published, as many in the literary establishment were disgusted with the sexual violence and what some viewed as the misogynistic nature of its contents. American Psycho went on to become one of the most influential books of the nineties and secured the author his legacy as an important literary figure.
Notable Transgressive Works: Fight Club, Haunted, Choke, Snuff
Palahniuk has constantly courted controversy with the content of his books. Fight Club, which remains to this day his most celebrated effort, was viewed as extremely controversial when the film version was released in 1999, only six months after the Columbine school shootings.
Palahniuk’s dark and disturbing fiction has continued to scandalise ever since. His book Haunted is often voted in polls as one of the most disturbing books ever written. In Turkey, the translator of Palahniuk’s book, Snuff, was detained and interrogated by the police over what the authorities regarded as the book’s offensive content.
I would be interested to hear about your Transgressive reading experiences?
Click here to read Transgressive Fiction Part I