Thursday, November 06, 2008

What took you so long?

And right on cue, all is forgiven.
Jonathan Jones in the Guardian argues for a rejection of anti-Americanism.

" How can any literary critic have missed the greatness, and experimentalism, of a Thomas Pynchon? But I am absolutely certain that some readers in their twenties in this country have missed out on Pynchon, not to mention Roth, Updike and all those other giants, because they don't want to read American novels. You can see this reflected in British writing. In the 1980s it was universally agreed by leading novelists that American fiction since 1945 was the paragon, the model to follow."

Just me, but I think it still goes, no matter who is in the White House.
It's lazy reflexive anti-Americanism that produces Booker Prize winners like this tripe.

Posted by David

1 comment:

August said...

I think younger readers dismissing Updike and Pynchon isn't necessarily a reflection of anti-American sentiment. To be honest, I think Updike is quite possibly the worst novelist I've ever read; his prose is turgid and his concerns seemed dated before I was born (I remember reading the Witches of Eastwick and wondering how anyone would pay the man money to write a grocery list, never mind a whole book). Work from the 20's and 30's seems fresher than Updike. Reading one of his novels today is like sitting through a marathon of that old cop show McCloud, or maybe McMillan & Wife; you can see why people found it entertaining, but you can just even easily see the enormous holes where the writers were obviously faking it and hoping no one would notice.

Pynchon is a little different; his prose is really energetic, but the style is stuck in the 1950s and '60s. That, sloppy, open, post-beat style (like early Salinger) doesn't really appeal to me or a lot of other younger readers. Again, it's something that was old before we were even born, and no longer seems relevant. Unlike Updike, Pynchon's ideas are sound and still mostly relevant, but after reading three books (and finding that two of them were a horrible mess, stylistically speaking) I can't imagine anyone of my generation using him as a yardstick for great writing.

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