With only a couple misgivings, there's not much here that isn't worth pondering.
It's a damn sight easier to have on offer a mix of novels that are Good For You if I can promise a bit of fun for after.
The author doesn't mention crime fiction or short fiction as having responded to the slow footedness of the novel as far as existing comfortably alongside other forms of narrative, or the fact that the novel doesn't do funny as well as it should lately.
Other than that, good stuff this.
To the extent that the novel suffers from an overabundance of seriousness, the problem may be as the article suggests, partially due to the new crop coming out of writing programs. Just as likely, it could be laid at the feet of what gets reviewed.
Novels are continually presented in arts and entertainment pages as more serious fare than the other media around them (Good For You) rather than part of the mix.
Prizes go to the big novel with the big subject or expanse because it reinforces the whole enterprise as worthwhile. A bit of a chuckle, and kudos to the article for mentioning David Lodge, rarely gets mentioned alongside the Granta list authors or whomever the Serious crop is.
Certainly comic novels aren't' reviewed nearly as often as a group as what is deemed worthy or literary.
Funny gets lumped in with genre and that's due to a stubborn snobbery that would be best done away with, certainly as review space is shrinking in newspapers anyway.
As is usually the case, smaller presses are leading the way when it comes to rectifying some of the problem, but in Canada it still feels a bit thin on the ground at the moment.
Posted by Dave