In the Wall Street Journal, of all places, is a comprehensive article examining the phenomenon of the literary novel--you know, the one you're supposed to read, but don't really want to? It's worth a few moments to read this excellent overview of what happened to literature with the early twentieth century Modernists, and what's happening now with contemporary novelists who really tell stories, but with a literary sensibility. I love this quote:
"The Modernists introduced us to the idea that reading could be work, and not common labor but the work of an intellectual elite, a highly trained coterie of professional aesthetic interpreters. The motto of Ezra Pound's "Little Review," which published the first chapters of Joyce's "Ulysses," was "Making no compromise with the public taste." Imagine what it felt like the first time somebody opened up "The Waste Land" and saw that it came with footnotes. Amateur hour was over. "
And this: "A good story is a dirty secret that we all share. It's what makes guilty pleasures so pleasurable, but it's also what makes them so guilty. A juicy tale reeks of crass commercialism and cheap thrills. We crave such entertainments, but we despise them. Plot makes perverts of us all." Oh, yes!
Doesn't that tempt you? For some of you who wisely took English degrees, this may not be news, but for others of us, it was a relief to read: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405297020370660457437716380438721...