"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

Saturday, April 4, 2009

"The day I let the media set my reading list

is the day I want someone to creep up on me with a big blunt instrument." Not to be outdone, here is A Reader's Revenge.

"I just know from my own experience how much harder it is to meet a novel-reader now than it was twenty or even ten years ago. So many intelligent people seem to have given up on novels because they trusted the media to pick out the best ones for them. And of course it's the quality of contemporary fiction that's driving them away. The stuff is just dull. How often are we told to interpret our boredom or irritation with a new novel as a surefire indication that it's challenging, and therefore good? DeLillo "has earned a right to bore us for our own good," as Salon puts it. You've got to hand it to postmodernism; no other literary movement in history ever spread so much boredom in the name of playfulness! But it's precisely the intelligent people who wander off to art forms they can enjoy, like the movies. What you have left are the puritans, the grinds, the cachet-hunters, because it's never occurred to them that the arts can be fun."

Strong opinions, but interesting to consider from the point of view that publishers are letting non-readers down. I know I have given up on anointed best-sellers because "the media" gave me a few bad recommendations. Bad and expensive.


John Baker said...

The media have always tried to herd readers into categories under fluorescent lights, but we have a way of wandering around in the dusk, we are curious, we have uncontrolled appetites, and they hate the fact that we are insatiably polygamous.

Zen of Writing said...

They hate the fact that they can't tell us how to spend our money, imo. All the hype makes you want to go to the library where it's quiet and reading is free.

But your explanation is much more poetic. (No surprise there.)