The critic F. R. Leavis once called what we think of realism as the “great tradition,” meaning the tradition which most distinguishes and characterizes the fiction of the Western world from the Romans to the present. But the fiction of the Western world is, in fact, best characterized by inventiveness, experimentation, and parody. While the critical establishment frowns on anything that is either too daring or that suggests that fiction is a field of play rather than a grimy window onto the real world, fiction is and always has been an art form that allows writers the most freedom within which to play.
This collection of stories brings together some of the most interesting and innovative American fiction writers—including Felipe Alfau, John Barth, Donald Barthelme, Robert Coover, Gilbert Sorrentino, and Gertrude Stein—since the 1930s. With an introduction by the editor, Innovations concludes with an extensive list of novels that belong to the real “great tradition” for further reading.