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

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R A Rubin

Look, in today's publishing environment, a fiction writer is beat from the start. Who is he gonna write for, academics? The old pulp writers wrote for folks who today solely watch sitcom and porno.

T. Wolfe is a lucky man. He has a middlebrow following. His books plot on about cultural biggies, the sexual revolution at our colleges today for example. His characters are cardboard, but no worse than any old summer page turner. People are getting laid a lot these days. Yawn!

Look, he's entertaining almost which is more than I can say for more serious literary fops. Okay, Wolfe is wrong about the Big Thing. It’s characters stupid. It always will be.

Jimmy Beck

Thanks, Dan--I appreciate your always.

Kevin Holtsberry

I wish you would have written this before I recorded a podcast with Clarke! Then I could have asked him questions based on your critique.

Brock can defend himself, but I do think there is a distinction here. Wolfe and Donadio are trying to merge fiction and non by holding literature responsible for "capturing the moment." In this way literature becomes fictionalized journalism. Clarke is saying that forcing literature to become journalism results in bringing the faults/limits of journalism to fiction - over-simplified and generic writing among them.

Clarke rejects this burden but asserts that literature can still engage and wrestle with the ideas and issues of our times but in a more fluid and artful way. By exploring and questioning things in a way straight reporting cannot, fiction brings art to bear on culture and history. I don't think he is saying that fiction HAS to do this but that it CAN do it and that this is what it is suited to rather than writing rooted in journalism or non-fiction.

Dan Green

I agree with Clarke's criticism that with Wolfe and Donadio "literature becomes fictionalized journalism." But I just don't see how trading "engaging with the moment" for "capturing the moment" solves the problem. I can't see the distinction he is making, except that, as I said, one is more "indirect" than the other.

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