Btb-front
Beyond the Blurb: On Critics and Criticism. Published by Cow Eye Press
Litsphere

THE LITERARY SPHERE: TAKING CRITICISM ONLINE

Tiol

THE IDEA OF LITERATURE

My Post (5)

LITERARY AESTHETICS

Lituni

LITERATURE IN THE UNIVERSITY

LR

LET'S REVIEW: BOOK REVIEWING AS LITERARY CRITICISM

« Travels With Famke | Main | The Difficulties of the Fiction Market »

08/12/2005

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

ed

There's also Donadio's troubling implication that a novel that is not "news-worthy" or somehow predisposed with today's realpolitik is somehow irrelevant. So I guess we can throw away any contemporary novel that deals with some bit of sociological minutiae. Like the Harry Potter example she cites, it's mere escapism. I guess we can say goodbye to any tales that don't represent one of the two sides in the latest geopolitical conflict. In the Donadio universe, a novel seems to fall either as an escapist or a realist expeience.

I'd argue that the ponderous "real world" approach is what troubled Ian McEwan's "Saturday." Instead of McEwan being concerned with human behavior, he felt the need to tie it into September 11 and, to boot, Virginia Woolf. It seemed to me a complete abandonment of the subconscious writing experience, whereby details present themselves, often unbeknownst to the writer, all because the writer has managed to realize the details so well.

I would agree with you in part, Dan, about your point that the novel doesn't serve to "make sense of the world." It presents its details, its perspective, and its voice -- and it is THE READER who makes sense of the novel and, should she be willing, draw parallels to what she might know of the real world. I'd suggest that the novelist serves as a human conduit between a meshing of imaginative and abstract details that are in his head and the inevitable organization of these on paper and later book form. The experience is perhaps so enormous and intricate that the novelist cannot be expected to be cognizant of all details. It is, I put forth, largely instinctive.

And if this is the case, why limit the novel to global events when this process might deliver greater fruit if the abstract meter has been amped up to 10?

Scott

First off, I don't see how our times are substantially more newsy than other eras.

Secondly, I don't see how "more newsy" times would translate into a greater need for nonfiction. Sure, good reportage is something I find very important right now and I wouldn't want to not be able to read nonfiction, but we're swimming in a sea of reportage here. Doesn't fiction have something to offer that the mountains and mountains of nonfiction can't, no matter how large they become?

And also, I don't see how more complex times priviledge nonfiction over fiction. Certainly, nonfiction can tell you the details, but don't you often need to appraoch strange, complex details from oblique angles to make sense of them?

Kevin Holtsberry

Perhaps these folks have lost their imagination and so look to non-fiction to supply "the answers?" If everything is to be "socially relevant" then without imagination they soon pass from looking for meaning in fiction (where perhaps it isn't obvious enough) to arranging facts to have the feel of a story.

Amardeep

Another point of annoyance for me is that her starting point in this misguided little essay is a rubbishy comment from V.S. Naipaul.

Naipaul has been saying it for a few years: he doesn't have much interest in writing fiction anymore. He wrote "Half a Life," according to the interview in the same issue of the NYTBR, to fulfil a publisher's contract, not because he was particularly inspired to write it.

For him, the genre as a whole is dying, because he doesn't have interest in it anymore.

And then she takes that comment and goes on to make an argument about book sales and so on. It doesn't make any sense at all.

Dan Green

It is unfortunate that some people seem to be taking Naipaul's recent comments seriously. They really are, as you suggest, incredibly ego-involved, and one hopes they don't cast a shadow over his previous, and very real, accomplishments.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

AODPurdy

THE ART OF DISTURBANCE: THE NOVELS OF JAMES PURDY

On Contemporary Fiction

EFN2

EXPERIMENTAL FICTION NOW

Iww

INNOVATIVE WOMEN WRITERS

Realisms
My Post (6)

MANY WINDOWS: ON EXPERIMENTAL FICTION

A WIDER ANGLE: AMERICAN FICTION AT THE PERIPHERY

Angle

Postmodernists 1.0

APF (2)

AMERICAN POSTMODERN FICTION

BSS

BETWEEN SILLINESS AND SATIRE:BLACK HUMOR FICTION