Tuesday, November 25, 2008


The local weather is bleak, the sky looks nauseated and the cultural and celestial atmosphere rife with unrest, unpredictability, and ominousness. So perhaps to simulate these conditions, it is best this Tuesday to concentrate on gripes, what irritants to my system particularly gall or induce bile-building discontents. I'll keep it literary, though not necessarily literate--perhaps form here should be an extension of the content, a bad, broken state of affairs. I'll put the inventory in a list form to make the sequence more of an algorithm of despair and frustration:

1. The lack of vital book reviews in The New York Times Book Review for the past twenty years.

2. The lack of any quality fiction (with perhaps three exceptions) in The New Yorker for the past twenty-five years.

3. How small press journals now tend to mimic their more well-heeled counterparts--the The Paris Review, for example-- in publishing the same authors over and over, coteries, cabals, and interdependent collectives over a diversification of content.

4. The sheer dearth of literature in translation in this country. Is English the only language? America the only country?

5. The damn sectarianism of many readers, critics, and writers, either siding with lyrical Realism or Postmodernism but not embracing both. Yes, how awful to express a love for both James and Foster Wallace, Cheever and Pynchon. Even worse to conceptualize middle-spaces between the realistic and the postmodern.

6. The divisiveness of poets and some poetry critics, neatly ascribing avant-gardism or symptoms of quietude and seeing the pure good in theorizing poetry into more camps than we have firewood for.

7. The general parochialism of academic readers of literature.

8. The general insularity and idiocy of non-academic, non-readers, in terms of literature, popular or obscure.

9. The canonization of literary critics, and so selectively, one might think that Saint James Wood is the only conjurer of serious literary criticism.

10. You, the Reader, for not challenging any of these bombastic claims and comments, as if they had real weight.

Postscript: The weather just changed, sun brightening the expanse. This change either gives credence to my remarks above, how they illuminate the general trend and bend of things literary, or perhaps how the literary weather isn't as bad as I indicate. You decide.