1. daemon➂
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    daemon➂ Member

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    Where Has all the Good Fiction Gone?

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by daemon➂, Nov 11, 2009.

    Is it just me, or is most good modern fiction obsolete. Either they're obscene (cuss words every third word and a graphic romance scene every third page), the writer sucks, or both.
    We need good writers!
    I'm just ranting. Anyone else share this frustration?
     
  2. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Nope. You just need to know where to look and take your time searching through the lesser known names and small publishers as much as you do the well known names and big publishers.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Not really. Ben Bova and Orson Scott Card are still writing good SF, Michael Connelly, Linda Barnes, Sue Grafton, and Patricia Cornwell are still writng good mysteries and crime dramas, and other gems are popping up here and there like Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones.

    Sure, there's a lot of crap out there, too, But that is nothing new.

    I do miss some types of writing, particularly in SF. Nobody writes like Larry Niven used to, not even Larry Niven. The Age of Wonder is gone from SF, and everything now is darker and more pessimistic. But that's just a personal regret, and I, for one, want to do my part to bring it back to life.
     
  4. Edward
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    Edward Active Member

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    I find that I hate everything, no matter when it was written. I actually prefer a lot of modern books because they feel like something you'd see in a Hollywood blockbuster. That is, they're written in a way that feels like the same dramatic action sequences in a modern movie. It only furthers my opinion that writing what you see has gotten better since we can see so much more through movies.

    Of course, dialogue and structure can suck as much now as it could thirty of one hundred years ago.
     
  5. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Good modern popular fiction (in my opinion!!!!) doesn't really exist anymore. I mean, writers like James Patterson and Dan Brown and their best-selling ilk aren't bad, its just pretty mediocre. No one is gonna look back in 100 years and say "Wasn't the woman's murder club series a masterpiece?" But I guess reading tastes have changed and literary fiction has fallen out of fashion. But good writing still exists, you just have to wade through a little more crap than you used to.
     
  6. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Good fiction exists and will continue to exist. You just have to know where to look. One thing to do is to ask people who like the same books you do to suggest a few books. Another thing is to google "best contemporary fiction" or something like that and see what turns up.
     
  7. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Or check out literary awards...the Pulitzer, the Nobel prize, the Booker, the Hugo award, the Nebula award, the Orange prize, the PEN/Faulkner....the list goes on, and covers virtually every genre there is....plenty of good reading to be found on those lists....
     
  8. Agreen
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    Agreen Faceless Man Contributor

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    Even taking into account I probably have a much broader definition of the term 'modern' than you've intended to use here, there's plenty of great stuff out there released recently- though I agree with Arron that much of it is found outside of 'popular' fiction. As a starting point, I imagine by any definition, Cormac McCarthy is a modern writer.
     
  9. Marcelo
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    Marcelo Contributing Member

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    Seems to me you just read a cliche-fest from the bargain bin. Check the Book Discussion section, it's full of wonderful recommendations. :D
     
  10. Marcelo
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    Marcelo Contributing Member

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    After reading Arron's post, I do imagine people looking back 100 years later and saying 'The Road was a masterpiece." Go McCarthy!:)
     
  11. SayWhatNow?
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    SayWhatNow? Senior Member

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    D.M. Cornish, Cornelia Funke, Jean DuPrau, John Flanagan, Joseph Delaney
     
  12. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Love McCarthy's writing. daemon: A good place to start with him is All the Pretty Horses, Blood Meridian, or The Road. Some other good writers that come to mind: Ian McEwan, John Updike, Philip Roth, Margaret Atwood.

    If you tell us what genres you like, we could recommend certain books and/or authors.
     
  13. StrangerWithNoName
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    StrangerWithNoName Longobard duke

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    Ok Ok I'm working about it...:p

    Seriously, my impression is that literature today has become too much...commercial, and the taste of the pubblic is pretty mediocre, therefore even good writers MUST lower theri writing standard.

    I don't think that Dan Brown or Tom Clancy are bad writers per sè, but they don't have the same style Hemingway or Dickinson had, and that's because...let's be honest, today nobody would read a new author who writes like them, he or she would be considered "boring" or "obsolete".

    Even Philip Dick today would have serious problems at publishing.

    Today most publishers ask for a precise format: something quick, but long at the same time, if you spend the first 100 pages setting up the events and the characters of your story they consider your book unpublishable, and my opinion is that is the reason why in the Saganami book I'm reading the first scene is a space battle that doesn't have anything to deal with the rest of the plot.

    I also suspect that the first battle at the beginning of Starship Troopers was inserted there for the same reason.
     
  14. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Note, I said "as much as" so I wasn't discounting the well known ones.
     
  15. Gigi_GNR
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    Gigi_GNR Guys, come on. WAFFLE-O. Contributor

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    I definitely agree, The Lovely Bones is a gem. Incredible book, and I love Alice Sebold and have huge respect for her because of what she went through and her courage to write about it (meaning her book "Lucky"--read it, I was rooting for Madison to go to prison the entire book. Thank god he was caught!!). Cornelia Funke is also an awesome writer, and you can't miss The Hunger Games and its sequel, Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins.
     
  16. Lessa_Winters
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    Lessa_Winters New Member

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    In defense of modern literature:
    A. Dan Brown is a fun read. Sometimes you wanna turn your brain off. The man also has the skill to manipulate millions of people into reading and finishing his work. You have to give that some respect. I'd still rather stab out my eye than read another Daniell Steel Novel, but still.

    B. The following names refute your claim:

    McSweeney's -including Dave Eggars et. all. It's a modern literary MOVEMENT. What more do you want?
    Michael Chabon
    Salman Rushdie
    Carlos ruiz Zafon
    Christopher Buckley
    Ray Bradbury (He's not dead yet)
    Kingsolver dosn't do badly
    Louis Lowery
    Leguin
    Breathers by S.G. Brown is wonderful.
    Someone wrote a werewolf novel (Sharp Teeth by Seth Barrow?) in free verse last year. I'll take that over the best of times and the worst of times any day.

    And that is off the top of my head at midnight. Yes populous escapist novels will fade, but there's amazing work out there. More now than ever because some much is published and so many people are literate.

    I would be happy to give you (or anyone who wants them) some personalized recommendations. I guarantee I can find at least one book you would enjoy that has been published in the last four years. I mean, Dracula is a 'Classic' and THAT was bad. {End Rant}
    -L
     
  17. Moggle
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    Moggle Member

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    It's funny how you are bothered by things I rarely ever see in 99% of the books I read. Perhaps you should simply choose your books more wisely rather than blame an entire industry.
     
  18. Evil Flamingo
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    Evil Flamingo Contributing Member Contributor

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    Go whoever said Cormac McCarthy in here, that man (in my opinion) is the best author of this segment of American literature history. His popular ones such as The Road and No Country for Old Men are genius, but he also has small gems too such as Outer Dark, which I just finished reading. The man's style is definitely on its own and is to be revered, even though it really isn't for everyone. The realism and dialogue in his novels is some of the best I've seen, especially with his interpretation of language in the rural South in the early nineteenth century. I could really go droning on for hours about him, so I'll just say I've made my point. You can find decent novels out there, and they really aren't that hard to find. Just don't go pick up the one with the cool spaceship on the cover or go anywhere near the "teen novels" section.

    - Steve
     
  19. Robert Lipscombe
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    Robert Lipscombe Member

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    You've got to keep in mind that up until say 50 years ago fiction was the number one popular mind-developing force in culture; people read fiction to 'improve' themselves, and as a result there was a premium on belles lettres, or what you might call literature, even great literature..and writers wrote on their toes, reaching always for the highest and best form and content in terms of raising, ennobling, liberating the human spirit from the bondage of economic oppression, class despite, ignorance, fear and hate. But that was then, and here we are in now. Now you have to compete with the opposing spiral - computer games, porn on the net, gambling on the net, TV, video, virtual reality etc..and the market knows that people want thrills and gratification above everything else. So fiction writers have gone down market, writing to gratify baser instincts [because that's where the money is now].
    My advice to you if you want to be a real writer is to remember that fiction is first and foremost an evolutionary instrument. If [as is spelled out in The English Project] you write to gratify your own baser motivations, or to inflame and gratify other people's baser appetites then you will have sold yourself out. That being said, no body wants to see you go down, so you need to get extra smart, and find the thing to write that is going to serve the higher cause while keeping you and your readers sufficiently interested to ensure that you earn your buck.. the labourer is worthy of his pay.
    Good luck to you, and stay with it.
    RL
     
  20. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    There's plenty of good fiction around. You just need to look in the right place. Don't just buy trashy light-entertainment rubbish if you're looking for good fiction. Buy well-reviewed, serious literary works if that's what you're looking for.

    And also, look into some of the good short fiction magazines. You can find some very good new fiction, if you look in the right place.
     
  21. Lessa_Winters
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    Lessa_Winters New Member

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    I think Oscar Wilde just rolled over in his grave. And please don't fool yourself. Penny dreadfuls were popular during Victorian era. Easy entertaining reading, tv shows and movies will always be popular, and that's ok. Not every moment of life needs to be totally educational. And bad language does not exclude a book from teaching good lessons. In summation: foo on the idea literature has to serve some purpose other than the simple pleasure of an image, feeling or character brought to life with little lines and a bit of imagination.
     
  22. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    I disagree. Art without a purpose or message is just aesthetics. It touches the soul no more than a nicely crafted coffee-pot. The best stories I've ever read, and the ones I still hold in very high esteem, are the ones that touched me deeply and changed me forever. If you don't wanna aim for that, fine. There's a huge market for nicely crafted coffee-pots. Just don't bash those who try, because if they succeed, their art will outlive themselves.
     
  23. Lessa_Winters
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    Lessa_Winters New Member

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    Beauty can touch the heart and stir the soul. Writing doesn't have to moralize to do it. And Oscar Wilde was exactly about aesthetics. Allegedly at least. He has a great number more values in his books than those Victorians gave him credit for. And take the Haiku: it is written to put the reader into a moment in time imagined by the author. Is this whole form of literature, which caries us the voices of the long dead, meaningless because it does not tell you how to live or what to think?
     
  24. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Actually, you'll find that the majority of (traditional) Haiku do have a moral message. But I agree with the rest of what you said. There's a lot to be said for some strictly formal works of art, as much as there is for works that are loaded with ideology. Aesthetic experience is, in my opinion, at least as important as the message the author wants to convey. No one would hear the message if it wasn't delivered in an aesthetically-pleasing way.
     
  25. hoodwinked
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    hoodwinked Member

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    I've learned not to walk into Barnes & Noble and look for a good book in the young adult section. It's baaaad. (In my opinion). It's popular fiction filled with nothing but vampires and the Victorian age now, the fads.
     

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