"Immersion in the life of the world, a willingness to be inhabited by and to speak for others, including those beyond the realm of the human, these are the practices not just of the bodhisattva but of the writer." --Jane Hirshfield

Friday, October 12, 2007

"Most Art is Failed Art"

I don't know if you've been following the controversy surrounding Stephen King's editing of Best American Short Stories 2007. The unfairly maligned Mr. King wrote a very pessimistic introduction to the book, which appeared in edited form in the NY Times Book Review. King feels that the short story can be precious and cutesy, written for other MFAs and teachers, because fewer and fewer of the rest of us actually read the things, hard as they are to come by, when the bookstores hide expensive literary magazines somewhere near the floor polisher.

Jane Thompson, author of several books of short stories, has written a thoughtful reply, at Maud Newton's blog.

Most art is failed art...There is in much of the criticism the inference, or the downright accusation, that writers of highbrow fiction lead effete and timorous lives, as opposed to the robust and brawny ones of those who write the solid, homespun stuff that people really want, and whose hearts, as well as wallets, are in the right place. But writing is always a balancing act between involvement with the world and the solitude and retreat needed to render it in words. One does one’s best in both arenas, and then resolves to do still better the following day.

1 comment:

Kay Sexton said...

Wow - I am so in agreement with Jane Thompson it frightens me - that balancing act is the whole point of writing, for me. Perhaps I'm just a definition of failure the?