"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

Monday, October 1, 2007

Too Many MFAs

Spoil the short story? That seems to be Stephen King's opinion in this article from the New York Times. There is no doubt that what he's saying is true, that the audience for short fiction is decreasing, and that there are a lot of MFA-trained imitators writing awfully precious stuff.

What’s not so good is that writers write for whatever audience is left. In too many cases, that audience happens to consist of other writers and would-be writers who are reading the various literary magazines (and The New Yorker, of course, the holy grail of the young fiction writer) not to be entertained but to get an idea of what sells there. And this kind of reading isn’t real reading, the kind where you just can’t wait to find out what happens next (think “Youth,” by Joseph Conrad, or “Big Blonde,” by Dorothy Parker). It’s more like copping-a-feel reading. There’s something yucky about it.
Mr. King has edited this year's Best American Short Stories, and the article is a slightly pared-down version of the introduction. I ordered this book, but Amazon so far refuses to ship it to me.

1 comment:

SB said...

Another comment he makes, that the six magazines cost him $80, highlights another problem with litmags. Who's going to pay that much several times a year on the chance of reading something good? It's almost like they are designed for an in-group.