What is Domestic Grotesque Fiction and Why Do I Write It?

I’ve called myself a writer of grotesque family fiction, but what does that term really mean? I give a brief definition of grotesque domestic fiction, or grotesque family fiction, by way of example, in an earlier blog post:

Take a family situation—usually some sort of broken family dynamic—mix in something grotesque—possibly morbid but not necessarily—and you’ve probably got domestic grotesque.

But I don’t know if that fully captures it. Up front, I have to say that I’ve always been the type to back away from definitions that try too hard to avoid definition. You know the type; those writers who say, “No, I don’t write horror fiction, I write transgressive commentaries on modernist life where social norms are exposed as metaphorical fangs in the collective neck…” But in the world of marketing, it is important to simultaneously embrace and reject established genres. You know, ride coattails while sewing your own. So, I write literary fiction but I actually write domestic grotesque fiction.

With that in mind, I coined the term “domestic grotesque” fiction, which Solarcide called a genre all my own (though, probably because I’ve been promoting the term as my own). In that Solarcide interview, I use a scene from Stranger Will to exemplify the term:

I find something inherently interesting with taking the trope of father/son catch and twisting it just enough to be jarring (re: dead raccoon) but still remain entirely relatable. These subtle twists are where I get the descriptor for my work, domestic grotesque.

So why do I write domestic grotesque fiction? Part aesthetics and part concept penetration. Domestic grotesque fiction isn’t only fun to write, it also allows me to very effectively zero in on an idea by pairing dissimilar concepts. Stranger Will = pregnancy and cleaning up dead bodies. I Didn’t Mean to be Kevin = lost parenthood and body parts. “Click-Clack” = newborn baby (implying potential) and mental retardation (no potential). It’s fun.


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Posted on by Caleb J. Ross in Stranger Will, Study (the world/the craft)

About Caleb J. Ross

began writing his sophomore year of undergrad study when, tired of the formal art education then being taught, he abandoned the pursuit in the middle of a compositional drawing class. Major-less and fearful of losing his financial aid, he signed up to seek a degree in English Literature for no other reason than his lengthy history with the language. Coincidentally, this decision not only introduced him to writing but to reading as well. Prior this transition he had read three books. One of which he understood.