One of the thing that is most challenging about my writing is that I strive overall for a realistic feel, especially in my characters themselves, and yet I cannot avoid elements of the surreal in my big picture. There is something of a French New Wave feel to some elements of my writing. It stems from a host of influences: my background in scifi and fantasy, my immersion in Japanese television, my love of acid rock and prog rock, my desire to deal with the intersection of the abstract and the concrete, my own mind's elusive grasp on the rational, and so on. [Edit: For some reason, when I was writing this, half asleep at 1:20am last night, I forgot one of the biggest influences on me in this regard: wu xia fiction. If I could write wu xia and get away with it, I very likely would.] For a long time I fought the inclusion of these elements in my "realistic contemporary fiction."
Then I read Fight Club and Choke.
While I have mixed feelings about both the content and the writing of those novels, they have influenced me greatly in this way: they showed me it was possible to mix real lie and larger-than-life, if one was bold enough to do so, and that such writing could find a home.
Alas, my writing is not Chuck Palahniuk's. He writes literry fiction that hits home with the John Lennon and Chumbawumba crowd. I write genre fiction that is targeted more at the Our Lady Peace, Metallica, and Blue October crowd. (Loosely.)
So, despite the courage I have taken from those novels, and a handful of short stories in a similar vein, I still find I struggle with the mixture of realism and surrealism. If I were writing for a Japanese audience, I know I would be home safe. But it is far more likely that I am writing for an American, Canadian, or UK audience (at least, initially).
In Sublimation, there are two characters that are themselves realistic models, but there are things in their past that can feel surrealistic, and the situation which bring the two together, the common foe (sorta) is much more surrealistic, even to the point of direct reference to Hieronymous Bosch.
The content is solid, and I don't feel the need to alter that, but I do sometimes worry over the best way to present it. Here, then, is the question for you, dear friend and reader: are you okay with literature that mixes realism and surrealism? Does it have to be done "just right"? What is it that, for you, makes it succeed or fail? And do you have any particular examples that leap to your mind that I might consider as I refine and complete Sublimation?