Josh Corey detects an "anti-literary" attitude behind much contemporary poetry and fiction:
We have overshot, then, the hermeneutics of suspicion that characterized "theory" in the 1970s to arrive at a poetics of suspicion: only literature that puts the very premises of the literary into question can now summon the aesthetic impact we associate with great literature. This may represent the most complete assimilation by authors of the skeptical stance that diffused itself in the last universally acknowledged great wave of postmodern fiction (Pynchon, Delillo, Coover) and poetry (Ashbery, Ashbery, Ashbery). Now it's not merely literary strategies that are picked apart and turned around through unreliable narrators, disordered chronologies, the blurring of fact and fiction, extreme parataxis, etc. It's the literary itself, the summoning and deployment of aesthetic effects, summarized in the phrase "beautiful language.
On one level, it is quite appropriate for writers to proceed on the assumption it is necessary to employ strategies that put "the very premises of the literary into question." Both poetry and fiction become dessicated and convention-encrusted when established notions of what makes literature "literary" go unchallenged. I would agree with Josh that such a "skeptical stance" is what motivated the greatest of the postmodernists (although his list leaves out perhaps the most thoroughgoingly skeptical of the postmodernists, writers such as Gilbert Sorrentino or Donald Barthelme), but such skepticism was not intended to destroy literature but to enhance it, to open up the possibilities for "aesthetic impact," not to deny the validity of the aesthetic. To the extent that "asethetic effects" can be encapsulated in the formulation "beautiful language," perhaps the postmodernists and their successors (Josh discusses W.G. Sebald and Roberto Bolano in particular) were calling literature dependent on it into question, but ultimately they were themselves rebelling against the notion of "beautiful language"--and the usually quiescent formal approaches associated with it--as a defining feature of "literature" in the first place.
On another level, the attempt to "escape" the literary is, of course, doomed to failure. The very attempt to "pick apart" or "turn around" usually results in a new strategy or style that doesn't abandon strategy and style but adds a fresh perspective on both. As Josh writes of Sebald: "Sebald's work first shocked readers with its apparently artless photographs and endless paragraphs, but in recollection the work is nearly limpid, its melancholy polished to a high gleam." Once one commits to writing in one of the literary forms, poetry or fiction or drama, efforts to escape the perceived limitiations of those forms while remaining within the practices of the forms broadly conceived--while continuing to accept the designation "poet," or "novelist"--are going to wind up being not "anti-literary" at all but, if they're successful, the latest additions to our understanding of what "the literary" might encompass. No matter how "useful" you might want your poem or your story to be--which is to say, for it to be more than "merely literary"--its ultimate utility will be to those who are interested in the perpetuation of the literary.
Which is not to say that all poems, novels, or plays conceived by their authors (and perhaps received by critics) as "useful" or "anti-literary" can't be aesthetically accomplished in the way "we associate with great literature." As Josh himself notes, if the attempt to "move beyond" poetry or fiction is what is required for a writer to produce interesting poetry or fiction, then so be it. If Thomas Pynchon needed to imagine he was writing a "critique" of the emergence of the American techno-military empire in order to write Gravity's Rainbow, I'm ok with that, although it's certainly not as such a critique that I appreciate the novel (nor, in the longest run, will future readers, when regarding it as primarily an historical exercise will likely render it unreadable). It's the humor, the narrative ingenuity, above all the language, which certainly isn't "beautiful," that makes it the great "literary" novel that it is. If writers need to think they're starting a revolution against literature--and I don't really suspect Pynchon thought he was doing this--in order to create, well, new works of literature, then viva la revolucion!