August 29, 2003

Looking for Lit in All The Wrong Places

Courtesy of Arts and Letters Daily, I found this review of a mainstream novel I'd never heard of by an author I've never heard of. The review begins,

Man goes to 30th college reunion. Remembers girl who got away. Feels sad. The end.
You just got five hours of your life back.

She then goes on to lament that in this book, nothing much happens--in short, there's no story:

Pretty sentences, all dressed up with nowhere to go. That's what I think is ailing fiction, has been ailing fiction for some time. I get no points for noticing. Better minds than mine have complained.

She mentions some other egregious examples (I didn't recognize them, either), and then says:

Here's what I do want points for: These are not novels. They are essays, maybe even newspaper columns, sometimes glorified diary entries, stretched out to unconscionable length and price.
How about a novel dressed up in novel form, huh? With characters who face conflicts (you remember those from ninth grade: Man vs. Nature, Man vs. Man, etc.), who act, suffer and grow. I could really sink my teeth into one of those right about now.

Fascinating. I read books like this all the time. Granted, you don't generally find them on the Literary Fiction shelves....

Posted by Will Duquette at August 29, 2003 10:33 PM