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The Case for a New Literary Movement

We need a new literary movement.

One with ambition, passion, and room for everyone that wants in.

We need an inclusive, intersectional all-encompassing movement.

A movement that inspires hope, fights for progress, and doesn’t accept anything less than the soaring rhetoric of utopian idealists looking to better the world.

I’m tired of post 9/11 anxiety. I’m tired of picking at the collective scars that brand my generation with nihilism, cynicism, and angst.

I want to read stories where the characters overcome their flaws, and better themselves in the process.

We need books that aren’t dystopian. We need kids to see worlds that aren’t struggling, that aren’t drowning in debt and depression. We need our youth to recognize that prosperity and equality are real possibilities if we can just work together.

I want stories where the hatemongers have lost. Where egalitarianism and altruism have triumphed—and the world is better for it.

But they tell me “that’s too saccharine.”

They tell me “a utopia is boring.”

People want grim reality, blood, and morally grey characters.

But I don’t think that’s true.

When you are living in a world that is beginning to mirror the bleak landscapes of a Cormac McCarthy novel, the last thing you want to read is The Road.

Maybe part of the reason we are in this mess is because it’s all we've known from our literature for the last 40 years.

Dystopian literature was supposed to serve as a warning, not a field guide. 

Literature shapes the world. We can write stories of hope and progress and still maintain interesting characters, fun plots, and rich worlds.

When the world around you is losing its mind, kindness is an act of rebellion. 

Call it Neoidealism, call it the New Utopian, the name isn't important. Leave branding up to the marketing majors. What's important is the message. 

There will always be naysayers. And holdouts. And Trolls. But this isn't about them. It's about creating a narrative that will influence the literary landscape in a positive way. 

To be fair, there are writers already exploring what the world could look like if humanity binds itself together with common threads, rather than severing itself with blades of difference. 

Hope Nation is a wonderful example of the ways that authors can use creative nonfiction to fight back against the inhumanity of the Trump era.

Similarly, Hank Green's An Absolutely Remarkable Thing is a book that explores how human cooperation can fight back against xenophobia. 

If we can effect change through art—and we should—why not steer the world to a brighter future?

I know it won't be easy. But nothing worth doing ever is -- or so my grandfather always told me. And honestly, I don't know if it can succeed. As much as I want to believe that this is what the world needs right now I'm not foolish enough to think that I have the answer that is going to shift the tides. That, frankly, is ridiculous. No one has all the answers. 

It's hard to think about hope for the future right now. Take a look out your window and you see that the whole damn world seems to have caught fire. To think about hope when so many are suffering almost feels like a betrayal. We should be angry. Outraged. We should be throwing rocks not writing books. 

But anger needs focus. It needs a purpose. And literature has always been an outlet for anger. So why not take that outrage and leverage it toward the greater good. 

Show the racists they can't win by showing them a world where they don't exist. 

What is there to do now, but take up our pens, and write our own futures? 

Gary Reddin
Gary Reddin

Gary grew up among the cicada songs and tornado sirens of Southwest Oklahoma. He found comfort in that dissonance and channeled it into his writing. His work has appeared in Stoneboat, The Dragon Poet Review, The Windmill and elsewhere

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