I’m reading The Red Tree which is just as scary as promised and gave me nightmares all night–though oddly, not about the book. I don’t think The Red Tree was ever nominated for a Pulitzer, but I am enjoying it. And I’m having the library send me Swamplandia, so I will have an opinion on that.
I read Anne Patchett’s editorial in the New York Times because already everyone in the publishing industry is like “Yes!!!!” And I do feel also, kind of “yes,” but I have to say, also kind of “no.”
It was bullshit that a Pulitzer wasn’t awarded for fiction. But I reject the idea that there’s some kind of tragedy that more people read the wrong kinds of things–like The Hunger Games–than read, say, David Foster Wallace. Why do we have to be so fucking snobby about shit? Fewer people are going to read harder books. Okay, fine. That doesn’t mean that harder books don’t have value, just that most people want to sit down to read something that’s not that hard.
It’s why I’d rather watch a million episodes of Psych before sitting down and watching one episode of Breaking Bad. Most of the time, when I turn on the tv, I’m looking to be distracted, not engaged. The times when I am looking to be engaged, hell yes, I’m glad shows like Breaking Bad exist, but when I want to escape, I’m glad there are whip-smart, not-so-demanding shows like Psych. And I have read James Joyce, you know, so my literary dick is as big as anyone’s.
Also, a novel will not fix what Twitter has broken in you, because Twitter has not broken anything.
I swear to god, the idea that we could live in the most literate moment in human history, when there are all sorts of mediums that cause people with any kind of writerly impulse to have to step up their game, because there’s always someone willing to tell you when something doesn’t make sense, and people are complaining not only that people don’t read, but that the people who do read read the wrong things, things that are bad for you and corrupt your brain, is frankly embarrassing.
Why are writers making arguments against any types of reading?
There’s something wrong about this impulse to snobbery, this belief that only a certain few–a special circle within the circle of people who are published by big publishers, which is within the circle of people who are published by someone else, which is of course within the enormous circle of people who are published–that only that tiny circle is “worth” reading and worth defending and worth cultural interest.
And, really, I want someone who owns a bookstore to understand that.
I guess I just don’t want to be told that my enthusiasm for reading and writing isn’t valuable because it’s not spent on the right kinds of reading and writing.
And I don’t want people I like cheering that sermon, you know?
We live in a time when everyone who can draw a side has drawn it and made up signs that say, as the song says, “Hurray for our side!”
Our artists should be the ones smudging out the chalklines between sides when no one is looking.