Friday, October 14, 2005

Literary Blogging: Gack! We're driving away our audience!

Well, Wolfe's stuff was written since 1955, and is certainly not "post-modern," whatever the hell that term means anyway, and I love it. To keep things from getting oversimplified, I have to note that I've done the contemporary "literary" fiction routine: my undergrad honors thesis was mainly about Auster's "New York Trilogy." I've done DeLillo, Dennis Potter, Haruki Murakami -- and liked them, though they all get stale and repetitive after a while. These are the fair-haired boys of post-modern fiction, or they were when I was in school.

What I dislike is writing in which the style becomes the story, in which the way that the story is told becomes the focus. It's authorial narcissism. Baroque, ironic, and self-referential narrative artifice, particularly in a first-person story, like Eggers's "Heartbreaking/Staggering," simply tells me that the author needs ridiculous amounts of attention, and that writing straight fiction means not getting to be the star of your own book.

All that said, the wife picked up John Irving's latest tonight, and I was reminded that he's just about the best there is. Lots of literary types like to dimiss him ([NYRB]"Oh, he's fine if you like "popular" fiction"[/NYRB]) but he is our era's Dickens. Add in Wolfe, V.S. Naipaul, and Richard Russo and you've got the varsity team.

1 comment:

Flyer said...

I've read books...and I think I've understood them. They're about girls, right?