Beyond the Blurb: On Critics and Criticism. Published by Cow Eye Press

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I've already made some preemptive excuses on my site for an expected paucity of comments (and wisdom) this week but I do throw out one question - is there a conflation here between "relevance" and "topicality"? I suspect works can be relevant without being so anchored in the specific that they age poorly? (On the other hand, Dickens, Zola, et alia don't seem to have suffered.)

Your point on lanuage - written language, specifically - is a terrific insight, a bolt from the blue and, I suspect, a current I'll follow as I tinker with this in the weeks ahead. It's one of the first original thoughts I've seen added to this debate.

Wish I had more time - but I'll be back ... !

Robert Birnbaum

Actually, Stone's first novel Hall of Mirrors put put him on the literary map winning some Houghton Mifflin award( th rename of which I can't recall—it might have been renamed the Seymour Lawrence award) for 1st novels.

Robert Nagle

Well, social relevance/social realism is often hard to get right, although I really don't have a problem with a novel serving as an assemblage of topical details (Updike's Rabbit books come to mind). The problem comes when excessive moralizing or editorializing interferes with an honest portrayal of the situation and characters. Still, it can be really hard to guess what type of narratives will continue to be relevant over time. Even the maudlin socialist realist fiction and films tends to be studied if only for their historical value.

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