In his new anthology of critical essays, Steve Aylett presents readers with a diverse set of perspectives on both Jeff Lint's writing and the place of science fiction in American literature. Dealing in depth with several short stories, the essays chosen for inclusion in And Your Point Is? Scorn and Meaning in Jeff Lint's Fiction often emphasize the ways Lint's work questions traditional approaches to constructing a narrative and redefines the relationship between the writer and his or her audience. Offering insightful readings of this author's complex body of work, these essays never attempt to reduce Lint's stories to a single definitive message but instead provide varied and thoughtful possibilities for interpretation.
In addition to a well-rounded and highly qualified list of contributors, Steve Aylett has done a great job of choosing critical essays that analyze not only Lint's fiction but also its relationship to other works, both traditional and experimental. Characteristic of the literary criticism in And Your Point Is?, Aylett's own piece "`Rise of the Swans': Doing Bird With Jeff Lint" presents a fascinating analysis of the ways Lint anticipates and manipulates the reader's expectations of a short story. For example, Aylett writes about a short story in which a group of intelligent swans descends upon a city: "Man and swan seem in agreement on attempting to make life a bit more bearable rather than fussing about whether humanity represents the pinnacle of creation...Critics have complained that Lint's stories lack conflict - they do, in fact, conflict with every story written by everyone else" (61). Aylett observes that by toying with the reader's expectation that stories contain a conflict and resolution, Lint makes a larger statement about crafting a short story, challenging the assumption that stories follow a predetermined blueprint. Many essays in the anthology, such as "The Retrial" and "Redemption and Ordeal in Jeff Lint's `Broadway Creamatoria'" also examine the ways that Lint, in being aware of literary conventions and manipulating them, brings these same tropes under scrutiny. Reading his work as an attempt to initiate a dialogue about what constitutes a work of literary fiction, these essays are both insightful and comprehensive, consistently examining Lint's work as well as its place in a larger literary context.
Also notable is Daniel Guyal's "Give, Take, and Take: An examination of Jeff Lint's `The Crystalline Associate,'" which, like other essays in the collection, examines the infinite possible readings of one of Lint's stories and what this ambiguity adds to the text. For example, Guyal writes: "Did he regard bears as overmind puppeteers, clinical observers? A fertile area of theory is the fact that there are eleven bears, the bare eleven being two figure ones, implying that both main characters are similar pillars of salt? Or a hint that the story's reasoning is so garbled that it would read the same if it were upside down? Or are they the eleven faithful apostles, the agent a Judas, and Mary...Mary?" Arguing that the story is not only rife with potential readings, but that these possibilities present both trivial and disconcerting messages from which the reader can choose, Guyal's essay shows how the reader can plot his or her own course while reading Lint's work. Several other essays in And Your Point Is?, such as Chris Diana's "The Lintian Waiter in `Tectonic'" and Steve Aylett's "Jeff Lint's `Snail Camp'" and deal in depth with this theme from different angles, weighing the strengths and weaknesses of this aspect of Lint's fiction with an impressive clarity and linguistic economy.
And Your Point Is? takes readers on an enjoyable, informative tour of Jeff Lint's shorter writings, offering diverse perspectives on a selection of challenging texts. Aylett's book is a great resource for Lint enthusiasts, as well as a fabulous introduction to this writer's complex body of work. Highly recommended.