Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by aikoaiko, Feb 5, 2014.
Has anyone seen this list (originally from the Huffington Post)? What did you all think of it?
Can you provide a link to the list?
Damn, that slideshow doesn't work on my phone. I'll have to check it out when I get home.
Wow, the author of the article comes off as a moron. He takes one sentence that each writer has written and gives his opinion based on that. I'm not sure what else to say.
Oops! Sorry for not having provided the link! As Steerpike noted, here it is
Yeah, I kind of didn't know what to think of it either. I haven't read all of the authors/poets included, but I have read Junot Diaz' work, and while I believe he's a good writer and I know he won the MacArthur, etc, I wasn't thrilled about any of his books and I can see some of the points that Shivani made. Meaning is always subjective, of course. Someone can see something in a piece of writing that others don't. But I think there is definitely a snob element to this craft where someone may be considered a prodigy simply by throwing a lot of confusing stuff on a page and challenging us to determine its hidden meaning. LOL.
Anyway, I just read it the other day and wondered whether anyone else here had or whether the authors listed were very familiar to anyone.
No, I believe he just posts an example from each author/poet that he believes is indicative of their work, then the descriptions elaborate further. I am assuming he read large samples of the authors he reported on. Or at least I hope he did.
I'm sure he did, but the way he writes makes me feel like he's being lazy in this article.
I've read a lot of Jhumpa Lahiri's work, and the author of the article has a point about her work being too similar. Too often it feels like she's using the same types of characters. From what I understand, her newest novel, The Lowland, is vastly different from her earlier work about Indian immigrants.
I think Junot Diaz writes about the same types of things, too. I've read a few of his short stories, and they're all about immigrants from the Dominican Republic. Again, I get the feeling that he's using the same types of characters and situations over and over again.
Truth be told, I have a problem with the direction modern literature is going, but that's a topic for another thread.
No fair. Now I want to hear what you have to say (because I've a few words myself) and given that the topic is the validity in receiving certain lauds by authors, lauds that represent the benchmarks of literature, I think it falls well within the bounds of the conversation.
I agree. I've been having those same thoughts lately myself.
Haha. OK, here goes...
I think a lot of writers today are lacking ambition. It's not entirely their fault, however. I'm of the opinion that everything that can be done with a novel has already been done. We've had linear and nonlinear narratives, techniques like stream of consciousness, attempts to bridge the novel with the essay ("novel of ideas"), etc. There's really nothing new left to explore (well, except for the poem-novel, whatever that is ). One thing writers can control, however, is subject matter. To use the examples I used before, it seems to me like Lahiri and Diaz write about the same stuff over and over again.
Another thing is that our culture has become fast paced. People want instant gratification. Readers aren't willing to work very hard when they read, and a lot of contemporary writers seem to be rewarding this type of attitude. When reading contemporary short stories and novels, I find that I'm not being challenged as much as I should. Maybe I'm just reading the wrong stuff.
There was something else I wanted to say, but I can't remember what it is. Oh well. This should be enough to get a conversation going.
There are some things herein with which I agree and I agree with them from the other side of the equation because I have read modern novels that I thought were deeply provocative and ingenious on the part of the writer that have more or less been panned by the greater reading audience. I will first admit that when It comes to my reading choices my brow isn't terribly high. I have no clue who 90% of the writers mentioned in the article even are and after looking a few of them up, I doubt I will ever come across their names again in a purposeful fashion. So, understand that I am speaking from my chosen level of reading and forgive if it seems a little philistine. Mieville's Embassytown is my best example. He weaves an abridged course in linguistics, theory of mind and language acquisition into a science fiction novel. There are times when the subjects come to the surface, naked and unadorned, but for the most part, the meat of it is the actual narrative of the story. Most people I know, even people who dig Mieville, find that book a painful chore and yet I felt humbled at his ability and perplexed at the epic eye-rolls I receive when I gush over that novel.
Mieville is great. Another genre writer who can make you work a bit is Neal Stephenson.
Well, I think this is definitely true. It would be quite a stretch nowadays to expect the modern reader to tackle something like Moby Dick, or any other long novel (particularly the older ones, which take so longer to reach a climax, etc.). Length doesn't necessarily dictate difficulty or density, but few modern books seem geared for a patient reader, and lots of readers (especially the younger ones) do not have near the attention spans of several generations before.
I'm sure that's why commercial novels (like FSOG, etc. etc.) sell so well. The only problem---as you mentioned---is that this lack of depth seems to be rubbing off on 'serious' literature as well.
True. Although there are some great contemporary writers, most of them are old. I've yet to find a young writer (< 40) who I can say is the next big literary powerhouse.
Yes. Not many new McCarthys and Pynchons around.
Separate names with a comma.