Kelly Swope’s fiction echoes with influence. He offers us fragmentation and philosophical ambiguity, exploring the existential rifts evoked by the ever-unresolved quest for self-definition. Swope’s work suggests the pathos and indeterminacy of Kazuo Ishiguro, as well as the imaginative eyes of Juan José Saer and Jorge Luis Borges. As Swope states of the latter two, “they write with more tragic irony than most hipsters but dress as if they are going to church.”
Swope’s stories confound fantasy and philosophy; they provide detail and interiority but make few claims to realism. Instead, his work aspires to realize a meaningful absurdity. Sardonic and incisive, Swope’s stories expose the humorous inanity that pervades, and perhaps obscures, the complexities that determine our contemporary experience.
Although the fixtures of postmodern literature continue to sanction synthetic absurdity as high art, such works often seethe with sound and fury. In the end, they signify nothing more than disjointed tedium. Swope denies this status quo. His aesthetic endeavors to do justice to the convolutions of the particular. In his own words, Swope seeks “to be fair to how complicated the events and entities taken up as literary objects can be.”
It remains for us to consider whether art, so long lauded for its “purposelessness,” can imagine a more purposeful function.