Your mission, if you choose to accept it
Darn it. I really want to write about my opinion of modern “literature”. But my time is limited these days. So I’m going to go about this piecemeal, rather than try to find the time to put something long and heartfelt together in one go.
The first step is some homework for you. Find a comfortable chair, get yourself your favorite drink, and read this piece. It’s long; the author uses big words — but don’t worry, he has as much scorn for them as you do.
I think this piece is genius, and honest, and it made me feel better for the choices I make when I pick a book to read. Join me in this multi-post road on modern literature, won’t you?
A Reader’s Manifesto
By B. R. Myers
First published in the Atlantic Monthly in July 2001
Nothing gives me the feeling of having been born several decades too late quite like the modern “literary” best seller. Give me a time-tested masterpiece or what critics patronizingly call a fun read—Sister Carrie or just plain Carrie. Give me anything, in fact, as long as it doesn’t have a recent prize jury’s seal of approval on the front and a clutch of precious raves on the back. In the bookstore I’ll sometimes sample what all the fuss is about, but one glance at the affected prose—”furious dabs of tulips stuttering,” say, or “in the dark before the day yet was”—and I’m hightailing it to the friendly black spines of the Penguin Classics.