M. Berry is the author of the novels Frank (2006),
"an unwriting of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein," and Leonardo's
Horse, a New York Times "notable book" of 1998. His first
collection of short fictions, Plane Geometry and Other
Affairs of the Heart, was chosen by Robert Coover as winner
of the 1985 Fiction Collective prize, and his second, Dictionary
of Modern Anguish (2000), was described by the Buffalo News
as "a collection of widely disparate narratives inspired...by the
spirit of Ludwig Wittgenstein." Berry's essays on philosophy and
experimental fiction have appeared in Symploke, Soundings,
Narrative, Philosophy and Literature, and Contex,
and in such books as Ordinary Language Criticism: Literary
Thinking After Cavell After Wittgenstein (2003) and the
forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Philosophy and Literature,
edited by Richard Eldridge. With Jeffrey Di Leo he has edited the essay collection Fiction's Present: Situating Contemporary Narrative Innovation (SUNY Press: 2007), and he has also edited Forms at War: FC2 1999-2009 (University of Alabama Press: 2009), an anthology of experimental fiction published by FC2.
Berry is a native of
Atlanta, GA. He attended Young Harris College, Furman University, and
Wesley Theological Seminary at American University and received an
M.F.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Iowa. Since 1985 he has been on
the faculty of the English Department at Florida State University,
where he specializes in 20th Century Literature and Critical Theory. In 2006 he became Chair of the Department. From 1999 through 2007 he served as publisher of Fiction Collective Two (FC2).
Dictionary of Modern Anguish
"In his new book of stories, R.
M. Berry again shows himself to be a writer's writer." ---
The New York Times Book Review
“The stories of Dictionary are so thoughtfully
counterpointed that the
term collection is too weak to describe the book. Each expands its
antecedent....Measuring Dictionary’s philosophical grammars against the
conventional realism of most story collections, I can say that Berry’s
work represents the next term, an exemplar of its final fiction, ‘The
Function of Art at the Present Time.’” --- The Review of
Plane Geometry and Other Affairs of the
imaginative integration of the aesthetic possibilities of mathematics
and science with those of literature and philosophy." ---
Los Angeles Times
prose is as active as Leonardo's imagination, piling clause upon clause
and multiplying details as he tracks Leonardo's memories . . . . I
begin to explain how Berry manages to pull this off, but it's an
indication of the lengths to which he is willing to go to reclaim
from television commercials, advertising agencies, and overly
art monographs . . . . Berry's ambitious goal is 'plotting a failure,
despair of art, civilization at cross-purposes,’ by which he means the
last decade of the 15th century as well as the last decade of the 20th
century, and in doing so he makes Leonardo's story our own." ---
Washington Post Book World
"[T]he novel Frank is an
'unwritten' classic cast into racial, class, imperial, and gendered
terms... and recalls events not available to Mary Shelley but always
there in potential, at the edges of an already post-Romantic,
proto-feminist, multiracial awareness....Unwriting, like retrofitting a
brownstone for electricity, DSL, and single-family living, requires
demolition as much as reconstruction. And Frank is certainly a
destroyer." --- Joseph Tabbi in American Book Review
RECENT CRITICAL WRITING
- Experimental Writing,” Oxford Companion to Philosophy and Literature, ed. Richard Eldridge (forthcoming, April 2009), 35 pp
- “War and the Form of Writing,” American
Book Review (Vol. 28, 6: Sept./Oct 2007), 4.
- Fiction's Present: Situating
Narrative Innovation, ed. R. M. Berry and Jeffrey Di Leo
(SUNY Press: 2007).
- "R. M. Berry Answers Joseph Tabbi," American
Book Review (Vol. 27, 5: July/August 2006), 37-38.
- "Did the Novel Die? (And Would We Know?), Rain
Taxi (Vol. 11, 1: Spring 2006), 24.
- "The Present Instance: Publishers R. M. Berry
and John O'Brien on Conceptual Writing," Review (Vol. 7, no. 4: March,
- "Wittgenstein Writing," Journal of Modern
Literature (forthcoming, 2006).
- "Language," A Companion to Modernist Literature
and Culture, ed. David Bradshaw and Kevin Dettmar (Blackwell: 2006),
- "The Avant Garde and the Question of
Literature" Soundings: A Journal of Interdisciplinary Study (Vol 88,
nos. 1-2: Spring-Summer, 2005), 105-27.
- "Sukenick's Dying Words," Golden Handcuffs
Review (Vol. I, no.4: Spring, 2005), 151-153.
- "Ego and the Sublime: Rereading Sukenick,"
American Book Review, (Vol. 26, no.1: Nov/Dec 2004), pp. 1,8.
- "Is There a Language Problem?" Electronic Book
Review (2004), 10 pp.
- "12 Theses on Fiction's Present," (with Jeffrey
Di Leo) Symploke (Vol. 12, 1-2: 2004), 7-15.
- "In Which Henry James Strikes Bedrock,"
Ordinary Language Criticism: Literary Thinking After Cavell After
Wittgenstein, ed. Walter Jost and Kenneth M. Dauber (Northwestern UP:
- "Cavell's Meaning 1968," Symploke (Vol. 11, no.
1-2: 2003), 237-241.
- "On Becoming Unaffiliated" in Affiliations ed.
Jeffrey Di Leo (U of Nebraska P: 2003), 144-155.
- "What Is a Book?" in Without Covers:Writers and
the Web ed. Lesha Hurliman (Purdue UP: 2002).
- "FC2 and the Present of Fiction," (introduction
to special FC2 feature) AltX.com
- "Wittgenstein and Modern Writing," American
Book Review, January/February, 2001), pp. 3,6.
Untitled,” Theory @ Buffalo
(2008), 23 pp.
- "from Untitled," The Golden Handcuffs
Review (Vol. 1, no. 7: Summer-Fall, 2006), 218-230.
- "Never Write about Writing," Rules of Thumb:73
Authors Reveal Their Fiction Writing Fixations, ed. Michael Martone,
(Writers Digest Books: 2005), 3pp.
- "from Frank," The Brooklyn Rail (December,
- "from Untitled" The New Review of Literature
vol. 2, no. 2 (April, 2005), pp. 4-8.
- "from Untitled," Notre Dame Review (19: 2005),
- "from Untitled," The Brooklyn Rail (September,
- "from Frank," Fiction International (36: 2003),
- "Uxoria Oculitis" in The Thackery T. Lambshead
Pocket Guide to Eccentric & Discredited Diseases, ed. Jeff
VanderMeer and Mark Roberts (Chimeric Press [UK] / Night Shade Books
[US]: 2003), 176-8.
- "from Frank (The Lawton Letters) " Fiction
International (35: 2002), pp. 106-123.
- "from Frank," Iowa Review, vol. 32, no. 1
(Spring, 2002), 12 pp. MS.
- "Abandoned Writing Projects," AltX.com (March 2001),
- "Mimesis," Five Points (Winter, 2000), pp.
interview with R.M. Berry Frank Giampietro interviews R.M.
Berry about avante-garde literature and the history of FC2.
Press Interview with R. M. Berry Lidia Yuknavitch interviews
R. M. Berry about his novel Frank and the future of
Words"(Opening remarks from the 2005 "Other Words Conference"
in Tallahassee, Florida, on the relation of independent publishing to
Present Tense: an e-dialog between R. M. Berry and John O'Brien"
(A dialog on conceptual writing by the publishers of FC2 and Dalkey
Archive. Includes a downloadable audio recording of Berry reading from
his most recent novel, Frank.)
There a Language Problem?" by R. M. Berry (Reflections on the
political recuperation of language in work by Marianne Hauser, Lidia
Yuknavitch, and himself.)
Avant Garde and the Question of Literature," by R. M. Berry
(On avant garde writing and the significance of the space of the page
Present of Fiction," by R. M. Berry (Recent fiction by Curtis
White, Alex Shakar, Michael Martone, and others read through the lens
of Wittgenstein and Gertrude Stein.)
Pessimistic Enough," by R. M. Berry (Reflections on the
relation of Creative Writing to the avant garde.)
Beckett's Fiction," by R. M. Berry (How Beckett's language
Present issue of Symploke, ed. by R. M. Berry and Jeffrey Di
Leo (A special issue of the journal Symploke, featuring essays by
Carole Maso, Samuel R. Delany, Leslie Scalapino, Percival Everett,
Brian Evenson, and others on the changed situation of fiction in the
Theses on Fiction's Present," by R. M. Berry and Jeffrey Di
Leo (Theorizing the situation of fiction in its present global
Article on FC2 and its publisher R. M. Berry
HONORS AND AWARDS
- AHPEG Grant (FSU Literature and Film
- Florida Cultural Support Grant (FC2): 2004,
2003, 2002, 2001, 2000
- NEA Grant in Literary Publishing (FC2): 2005,
- Tallahassee Cultural Resources Council Grant
(FC2): 2004, 2003, 2002
- COFRS Summer Award, 2001
- Pushcart Prize nominee, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001,
2000, 1991, 1990
- New York Times "Notable Book" for Leonardo's
- Florida Arts Council Individual Artist Grant,
- Teaching Incentive Program Award, 1995-6
- Pushcart Prize honorable mention, 1991-92
- Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award, 1991
- Fulbright Junior Lecturer in American
Literature in France, 1985-1986
- Fiction Collective Award: Plane Geometry, 1984