Some Perspective
Music of the Week—July 9, 2006

Me Neither, Mr. Johnson

The New Criterion's blog passes on these remarks from historian Paul Johnson which serve very well for my views on the state of contemporary fiction:
The other week I found myself sitting at supper next to someone called Zadie Smith. I thought her rather snooty, to be honest, but gave a novel of hers a try. Alas! I do not want to dwell in the world of multicultural, multisexual squatters, speaking a difficult argot, thinking alien and (to me) nasty thoughts.
More accurately, I should say my expectations of contemporary fiction. I know there must be good work being done, but time spent searching for it doesn't seem to me a good investment. The Atlantic has quit publishing fiction, which is okay with me since I had quit reading theirs. I think the last one I read was a first-person narrative from a girl with a Helen Keller-type disability. It was, naturally, embittered in tone, and I remember thinking, a page or so in: Before this is over I'm going to have to hear all about her masturbating. Sure enough...


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