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Malignant Narcissism Or Middle-Aged White Dudes Constantly Boning Down?
October 4, 2011 10:29 PM   Subscribe

An American writer hasn't won the Nobel Prize for Literature since 1993 (Toni Morrison). Slate's Alexander Nazaryan tells us why: "The rising generation of writers behind Oates, Roth and DeLillo are dominated by Great Male Narcissists — even the writers who aren’t male (or white)."
posted by bardic (121 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
What's wrong with narcissism? You need to write what you know. And hasn't it always been thus?
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 10:39 PM on October 4, 2011


What's wrong with narcissism?

Depends on who you ask.
posted by Malor at 10:44 PM on October 4, 2011 [10 favorites]


America needs an Obama des letters, a writer for the 21st century, not the 20th

(vomits)

Pynchon's still got a fair shot: despite this writer's inexplicable potshot at Against the Day, his recent work just like his older stuff satisfies everyone's sense of what the committee likes, having politics, sweep, and historical imagination.

The literature committee has a lot better taste than the irate newspaperati give them credit for — and the crap that Nazarayan spends most of his essay lamenting is pretty much just crap, after all, not Nobel material. (I mean, Safran Foer? Jesus Christ why are we even talking about him here.) Who said the next Nobelist would be coming from the ranks of the middlebrow bestselling New Yorker set? Since we're making book, I'll give even money that, when the next American one is named, Nazarayan has never read a book she wrote.
posted by RogerB at 10:45 PM on October 4, 2011 [7 favorites]


I've still got a chance! People want to read novels about middle class white people with romantic issues and decent taste in music, right?
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 10:48 PM on October 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


American's have not produced a consistent writer with a solid career, and the right politics for Sweden in a very long time, and esp. not in 20 years. The best case may be poets--and if America gets its nobel it might be someone like Merwin. Though not this year, this year it will be Adonis.

What suprises me--with Atwood, Gallant, and Munro, we haven't gotten a Canadian.
posted by PinkMoose at 10:49 PM on October 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


Hmmm, not a bad piece, but I do think it ignores a huge elephant in the room: publishers. Publishers in the US, and to a lesser degree UK, and Australia have changed dramatically since even the nineties; the publishing model itself has changed.

Publishers are increasingly risk averse - yet paradoxically publishing ever more books - all trying to find that next Da Vinci Code (on in the literary world, God Of Small Things). Unfortunately I think a by-product of this means that more unique voices are overlooked, or pressured to continue replicating their initial success such that they end up publishing variations on the same theme, over and over and over.

It's interesting, I just finished All The King's Men last week. I can't say I loved it - though there is much to recommend it - but one thing that really struck was its sheer ambition. Warren wrote it in such vehement blast I found it breath-taking. It was so heady, intense, it was risky fiction. And I reflected more than once as I read it, "wow, they do not even try to write them like this any more, and it's not going to end up on the bestsellers if they do. People won't want to have a national about a book like this."

Now, I realise such a statement is going to provoke a flurry of reccomendations from mefites of books that are no less worthy, ambitious, etc. But, I think there is - despite the contenders - a kernel in there. The books we have national conversations about now are different, and the conversation is stilted and hushed.

Big American Men (and they're all men) these days are more brands than writers (one thing I love about Michael Chabon is his refusal to be pigeonholed so easily). And the Nobel Committee - to its credit - is not interested in brands. There is a huge diversity of writers out there and in a world of six billion people; I don't find it shocking a Big American Man hasn't won for a little while.
posted by smoke at 10:49 PM on October 4, 2011 [14 favorites]


People want to read novels about middle class white people with romantic issues and decent taste in music, right?

Unfortunately that seems to be the most popular topic. It's also acceptable for middle-class people to write incredibly weird misery porn about working class people that portrays them as either saintly, timmy cratchett-like figures or little better than rutting morlocks. Anything in between will not be tolerated. That's not considered literature, and you'll be lumped with Anne Tyler, Nick Hornby etc.
posted by smoke at 10:53 PM on October 4, 2011 [9 favorites]


I wish I had heard Wallace's line, “The very world around them, as beautifully as they see and describe it, seems to exist for them only insofar as it evokes impressions and associations and emotions inside the self.” before. I'm 25, and the artistic world I've grownup in has always seemed so vain and self-serving.Hopefully we're just livingthrough a particularly insular period.
posted by karmiolz at 10:54 PM on October 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


Unfortunately that seems to be the most popular topic. It's also acceptable for middle-class people to write incredibly weird misery porn about working class people that portrays them as either saintly, timmy cratchett-like figures or little better than rutting morlocks.

Ohh I just finished reading Nelson Algren's Neon Wilderness! What if I contrasted my own middle class search for meaning with misery porn by inventing a trip back to New Jersey to seek my roots?
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 10:54 PM on October 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Nick Hornby

er, High Fidelity?
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 10:55 PM on October 4, 2011


Good article, I thought it was going to be another entitled whine, but it made some good points.

It's not that there's anything wrong with writing that's focused on one person's internal emotions, but it's a bit limited when so many novels focus on that.

He mentions Doris Lessing, and it's notable that she's always been completely unafraid to wade straight into big issues: race in South Africa in "The Grass is Singing", terrorism and politics in "The Good Terrorist", gender in "The Golden Notebook" and "The Cleft". She's always been willing to take risks, even if those risks don't always pan out into great books. I think writers who do that are going to have an advantage over those who always stay safely in their comfort zone.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 10:56 PM on October 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


"Jhumpa Lahiri is a Great Male Narcissist whose characters tend to be upper-middle-class Indian-Americans living in the comfortable precincts of Boston or New York. Swap the identity to Chinese-American, move the story a couple of generations back on the immigrant’s well-trod saga, and you have Amy Tan."

...Alexander Nazaryan is a writer and teacher living in Brooklyn. He is writing a novel about Russian immigrants in New York.

ಠ_ಠ
posted by Iridic at 10:56 PM on October 4, 2011 [40 favorites]


What's wrong with narcissism? You need to write what you know.

Perhaps, but that doesn't mean that what you know isn't utterly banal.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 11:02 PM on October 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


The books we have national conversations about now are different [...] Big American Men (and they're all men) these days are more brands than writers [...] And the Nobel Committee - to its credit - is not interested in brands.

I think this really cuts to the heart of the issue. This recent upswing in vocal "Why Nobel hates America" complaints isn't really about how the Nobel committee is insulting or dismissing American literature, despite what they claim. They're really upset that they're dismissing the American publishing industry, its cultural branding and marketing campaigns. And that's a stance for which any reasonable lover of books should thank them — but of course it can leave you feeling disoriented if the marketing departments were providing your only landmarks about what might be good in American writing, either directly or secondhand by New Yorker osmosis.
posted by RogerB at 11:16 PM on October 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm starting a new band called The Rutting Morlocks.
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:22 PM on October 4, 2011 [13 favorites]


I'm writing a novel about how your band changed my life.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 11:23 PM on October 4, 2011 [7 favorites]


Here's the full text of the David Foster Wallace essay on John Updike's. Toward the End of Time mentioned in the post. It's a rather brutal review.

Total number of pages about the Sino-American war -- causes, duration, casualties: 0.75;

Total number of pages about deadly mutant metallobioforms: 1.5;

Total number of pages about flora around Turnbull's home, plus fauna, weather and how his ocean view looks in different seasons: 86;

Total number of pages about Mexico's repossession of the U.S. Southwest: 0.1;

Total number of pages about Ben Turnbull's penis and his various
feelings about it: 7.5;

posted by Grimgrin at 11:26 PM on October 4, 2011 [18 favorites]


Contrary to popular perception, the Nobel is not a lifetime achievement award. Although that is part of it, other factors weigh such as current events in the past year or so. For example with the Arab Spring, maybe they'll choose an author from an oppressed country. There are plenty of good deserving authors in the world, the question is where to shine the spotlight, Nobel has always been motivated by current events. Indeed, that's what makes it so vibrant and alive.
posted by stbalbach at 11:26 PM on October 4, 2011


What's wrong with narcissism? You need to write what you know. And hasn't it always been thus?

You're under the impression, then, that Franz Kafka once spent some time as an insect? That Jules Verne was a submariner? That Swift had a Lilipudlian stamp in his passport?
posted by gompa at 11:27 PM on October 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


Thomas Pynchon, Philip Roth, Cormac McCarthy, Joyce Carol Oates and Don DeLillo.

Nice to see so many genre writers in that list.
posted by Artw at 11:29 PM on October 4, 2011 [7 favorites]


You're under the impression, then, that Franz Kafka once spent some time as an insect?

I'm under the impression that he felt as if he was one. As for the others, science fiction and satire.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 11:29 PM on October 4, 2011


When a solipsist dies, after all,
everything goes with him.


how is this different from anyone else? When I die, the entire world, from my POV, will end.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 11:29 PM on October 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


The post set me thinking on what the last novel by a US author I read was, and I can't recall anything in the past few years. Not a conscious effort at avoidance and must have read dozens of fictional works in that time, so I suppose as well as the lower opportunity to come across new American stuff here, it's just not piquing my interest like authors from elsewhere have.
posted by Abiezer at 11:36 PM on October 4, 2011


It's not solipism per se, but the particular solipsism of white male Americans who managed to normalize their peculiar sexual hang-ups and concerns as universally "American" hang-ups and concerns starting around, say, 1945, and which have become the "natural" standard against which all American literature is judged.

If you don't choose to write in this highly peculiar way, yet a peculiar way that's been "naturalized" as the normative standard, you don't get published, you don't get (American) awards, and you definitely never get tenure to go on and teach yet another generation of work-shop/MFA writers how to lament their supposedly pitiable yet highly privileged upper-middle class lifestyles.

And as bad as it is (IMO) among American novelists, it's ten times worse among American poets.
posted by bardic at 11:39 PM on October 4, 2011 [17 favorites]


It's probably unfair and a stereotype, but I do have this vision of an American literary establishment composed primarily of multiple clones of the Jeff Bridges character from The Squid and the Whale.
posted by Artw at 11:42 PM on October 4, 2011 [8 favorites]


"People want to read novels about middle class white people with romantic issues and decent taste in music, right?"

Christ, the last thing I want to read is another middle class white person writing about their taste in music.
posted by klangklangston at 11:42 PM on October 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


I was being sarcastic.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 11:43 PM on October 4, 2011


But I'm also neurotic, death-obsessed, and quirky in a safe way! Surely I'll stand out.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 11:44 PM on October 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


With you, it's hard to tell, oh apostle of self-involved earnestness.
posted by klangklangston at 11:45 PM on October 4, 2011 [7 favorites]


With you, it's hard to tell, oh apostle of self-involved earnestness.

C'mon man. I'm sarcastically commenting on how, if I had the discipline to write that novel my friends keep telling me to write, it would be exactly the same as a million other bits of insufferable McSweeney's hipster-lit/Perks of Being A Wallflower aping YA emo lit.

The problem is that what if that's just the life of the sort of people who have the free time and the inclination and the self-absorption to write novels?
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 11:47 PM on October 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Lovecraft In Brooklyn: Can you write 1000 pages about yourself and then say, with a straight face, that people should give you money for the right to charge other people money to read it?

If so, go for it. There are worse rackets to be in.
posted by Grimgrin at 11:48 PM on October 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nah, I think I'll work on my horror novel. It stars a young writer who lives in New England and loves classic rock, and...

oh crap.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 11:50 PM on October 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


You want to write something set in an alternate history where a hobo revolution overthrew the US goverment in the 30s.
posted by Artw at 11:52 PM on October 4, 2011 [8 favorites]


But seriously they should open this up to genre literature.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 11:54 PM on October 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Come on now, look at that list. It's Science Fiction, Science Fiction, Science Fiction and Westerns, Horror and Science Fiction agan.
posted by Artw at 11:56 PM on October 4, 2011


"but I do have this vision of an American literary establishment composed primarily of multiple clones of the Jeff Bridges character from The Squid and the Whale."

LOLtastic
posted by bardic at 12:00 AM on October 5, 2011


Lovecraft: Or you could write a novel about a writer writing a novel with yourself as a character in the novel commenting on the real life struggles of the author! BEST IDEA!
posted by Grimgrin at 12:14 AM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


The solution is simple but drastic.

1. Shut down all creative writing classes

2. Ban anyone under 50 from reading Barth, Pynchon, Ford, Gary Indiana etc

3. Give book editors tasers. Authors gotta learn.
posted by fallingbadgers at 1:03 AM on October 5, 2011 [14 favorites]


I don't know about the state of American literature but I wouldn't worry too much about the opinion of the Nobel people and I certainly wouldn't waste any time or effort trying to please them. Chances are an American once screwed one of their wives or something so you're never going to get one: I've heard that was the problem with Graham Greene.
posted by Segundus at 1:29 AM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Jhumpa Lahiri is a Great Male Narcissist whose characters tend to be upper-middle-class Indian-Americans living in the comfortable precincts of Boston or New York. Swap the identity to Chinese-American, move the story a couple of generations back on the immigrant’s well-trod saga, and you have Amy Tan.

That's actually a pretty big change. Tan and Lahiri have very different writing styles and different themes besides the "immigrant" theme. It's not like Slate and Salon where it's easy to mistake one for the other.
posted by betweenthebars at 1:33 AM on October 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


Chances are an American once screwed one of their wives or something so you're never going to get one:

So you're going with Option B, boning down?
posted by mannequito at 1:35 AM on October 5, 2011


I was being sarcastic.

Never explain a joke.
posted by doublehappy at 2:20 AM on October 5, 2011


Unless that's the joke.
posted by doublehappy at 2:20 AM on October 5, 2011


Lovecraft, you ought to write a book about Australia's dark, dystopian future at the bottom of the Free Speech slippery slope. You could call it Nineteen matey-four.
posted by No-sword at 2:43 AM on October 5, 2011 [25 favorites]


With a protagonist who works at the Ministry of Strewth.
posted by Abiezer at 3:12 AM on October 5, 2011 [22 favorites]


Well about to embarrass myself here amongst the more literary types, but it won't be the first or last time I made a fool of myself on these blue pages.

While he has a couple of good points, especially by mentioning the incredibly narcissistic writers he does, it isn't like Americans have a lock on narcicissm. Anyone read any Peter Høeg lately? Borderliners was insufferable, even after a dozen bottles of Carlsberg. You say not Nobel material? OK.

Nobelist J.M. Le Clezio, tried to like him, I really did, but well he belongs in Brooklyn with all the narcissists, n'est-ce pas? He even kind of looks like the Jonathon narcissist triad. Would spice up any dinner party in Park Slope.

And it isn't like there is a lock on narcissism by writers with 23rd chromosome pair of XY. Jeez, I can't tell you how many writers have that same Jonathon trait and were woman. I will grant you they don't have nearly the fame that the Jonathon's have. And well Nobelist Elfiede Jellinek certainly seems to be in that narcissist category to me. Read The Piano Teacher, it takes an extraordinary talent to make a novel about sex and a sado-masochistic relationship boring, but she managed! Maybe it was the translation.
posted by xetere at 4:05 AM on October 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


This is not about "a generation" of writers. The same thing I tell romantically discouraged friends also applies here: Who cares if almost every dating prospect in town is a dickbag? You only need one.

It's not like Slate and Salon where it's easy to mistake one for the other.

What are you talking about? Salon is the one I gave up reading a dozen years ago after being unable to stomach the myopic navelgazing that permeates practically everything they publish and Slate is the one I forget exists except when someone links an article on Facebook. Totally different!

posted by psoas at 4:16 AM on October 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'd rather read any of these writers (especially Updike) than the boring didactic intro-to-poli-sci-fests the nobel has been giving prizes to for the past decades. It's like a they turned left at Knut Hamsun and never turned back. I know this is because I'm narcissistic too, but, again, I bet I'm more fun at parties than J. M. G. Le Clézio.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 4:52 AM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Since Toni Morrison was the last American writer to win, a message has been sent about the tone, scope and content that is expected of great American fiction: It must contain a spooky ghost story, bittersweet and sad.

Get to work, Great Authors.
posted by Slap*Happy at 4:54 AM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


You want to write something set in an alternate history where a hobo revolution overthrew the US goverment in the 30s.
posted by Artw


Wel, shit. Now I do.

I think in the opening scene, the Bonus Army will hang Douglas MacArthur from the top of the Wshington Monument by his dick.
posted by COBRA! at 5:18 AM on October 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


The Swedes simply do not understand the addiction memoir as the pinnacle of literary achievement it has become.
posted by spitbull at 5:21 AM on October 5, 2011 [8 favorites]


> But seriously they should open this up to genre literature.

If traditional publishing really is on the ropes they should open it up wider than that. Graphic novels. Internet-only. Slash fic.

Plus, we haven't had enough literature-is-dying diatribes lately and doing that would cause a big supply-side spike, I bet.
posted by jfuller at 5:22 AM on October 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Since we are talking about American authors, what do you say about Lionel Shriver (as an author, not as a Nobel candidate)? I read her We need to talk about Kevin this year and it's one of the better novels I've read recently.
posted by Termite at 5:44 AM on October 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


And they’ve not done themselves any favors with some George W. Bush-era selections that plainly had more to do with politics than literature.

In 2005, British playwright Harold Pinter...


Nazaryan's politics aside, I doubt that the literary prowess of Pinter is controversial.
posted by ersatz at 5:49 AM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


What's wrong with narcissism? You need to write what you know. And hasn't it always been thus?

Yes, but what you know can always be expanded — and should be steadily expanding every day of your life. It's called research and personal growth. There's no excuse for writing such endlessly self-involved stuff, Jean Teasdale-style, "because it's what I know". Learn more, and keep learning.

I'd say though that in most cases writers do need to write what's in them to write. If someone's a naturally happy person, she or he is probably not going to be able to pen something really dark and gothic, or even biting social commentary. Maybe she or he needs to stick to writing light comic novels. And there's nothing wrong with that if the novel is truly witty and entertaining.
posted by orange swan at 5:51 AM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


And yet Murakami's the number three pick? Murakami, who's probably never really meant a single word he's ever written?

I dunno, man. I've got an advanced degree in literature and yet it basically still totally mystifies me.
posted by pts at 6:02 AM on October 5, 2011


People want to read novels about middle class white people with romantic issues and decent taste in music, right?

Also I know you're being sarcastic, but that "decent taste in music" line just about made me roll my eyes out of my head.
posted by pts at 6:12 AM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's interesting that "write what you know" has come in for criticism -- that is indeed what the creative writing program at my uni pushed. And yet the prize winning story my year was set during the Korean war (the author having been born 25 years after the end of the war).

You need to have some strong feeling of what you write about; 25 year olds rarely write convincingly about old age. But yes, there is a strange imposition of setting limitation in a lot of creative writing instruction. I'm at a point in my life where I could write more realistically about 17th century farmers than 21st century upper middle class, though I've been at parties of the latter (somewhat inexplicable parties).

I actually had one professor suggest that I write about dog shows and breeding, because my grandmother bred dogs - as if I cared in the least. He was somewhat insane, sadly head of the program.
posted by jb at 6:16 AM on October 5, 2011


Also "write what you know" is intended to be a guideline, but it doesn't mean that your fiction must be very narcissitic, fixated on the interior life of one character.
posted by jb at 6:24 AM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't see any dearth: Paul Auster, Jonathan Lethem, John Crowley, Cormac McCarthy, John Barth, Amy Tan, E.L. Doctorow, Russell Banks, Lorrie Moore, Annie Proulx, Joyce Carol Oates, Richard Russo, Lydia Davis, Thomas Pynchon, Louise Erdrich, Rick Moody, Madison Bell, Richard Powers, Barbara Kingsolver, James Welch, Tobias Wolff, Marilynne Robinson, William Vollman, and Jane Smiley all seem worthy of the prize (although I am not fond of some of these myself, they all seem to possess the scope and gravitas necessary).

In another generation, we'll likely have many more with the body of work sufficient for consideration - writers like Zadie Smith, Jennifer Egan, Jonathan Lethem, Michael Chabon, Arthur Phillips, Edwidge Danticat, Jhumpa Lahiri, Junot Diaz, A.M. Holmes, Nicole Krauss, Gary Shteyngart, Monica Ali, Sherman Alexie, Jeffrey Eugenides, Jen Gish, Peter Cameron, etc.
posted by aught at 6:39 AM on October 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


"Don't write what you know, know what you write."
posted by TheophileEscargot at 6:42 AM on October 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


It's interesting that "write what you know" has come in for criticism -- that is indeed what the creative writing program at my uni pushed. And yet the prize winning story my year was set during the Korean war (the author having been born 25 years after the end of the war).

This is because "write what you know" doesn't mean what over-eager young creative writing students often think it means. It doesn't mean "only write about the trivialities of your own little life" -- it means get out there and either experience the world or do some serious research to learn about things you didn't know before (or both); or, it means write about the emotional connections and insights into life you have gotten by being a thoughtful observer of humanity (which often transcends the specific trivia of a character's geography or career).
posted by aught at 6:47 AM on October 5, 2011 [9 favorites]


Christ, the last thing I want to read is another middle class white person writing about their taste in music.

Unless that person is George Pelicanos...
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:07 AM on October 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


How is Jonathan Franzen lumped in with the likes of Philip Roth here? Roth clearly is writing about one thing only (the adventures & misadventures of his member) no matter the setting. Franzen's Freedom was a totally different thing, self consciously emulating Tolstoy. One may or may not like how Freedom turned out, but it's hard to condemn it as small or narcissistic. Although I thoroughly agree with all the aspersions cast on "write what you know," I don't think it follows that you cannot write a good novel about interpersonal relationships.
posted by yarly at 7:08 AM on October 5, 2011


There were a disturbing number of fiction writers in my program who said things like, "I'd love to learn how to write fictional fiction someday."
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:23 AM on October 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


My MFA program, rather.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:24 AM on October 5, 2011


If Roth wins the Nobel I will stamp my feet and complain loudly and unceasingly (well, at least until lunchtime).
posted by jokeefe at 7:35 AM on October 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm still baffled that career poets duke it out with career novelists. Those are completely different enterprises, but I guess that's another issue.

...

Anyway, as a reader not involved in the publishing industry, I get the sense that American publishing nowadays is much like the American movie industry nowadays - everything's either a gigantic blockbuster or a relatively tiny affair, with a few Event Books dotting the landscape here and there.

The number of "serious readers" in the US seems small and spread thinly across the country, and as a result, there isn't really a well-mounted national writing scene for good literature in the US. I don't mean Serious literature about Serious issues, or easy literature about cheating professors smoking cigarettes in cafes, or "experimental" crap whose rebellion against form would have been fresh 75 years ago, but good, vibrant stories about memorable characters reacting in interesting ways to powerful stimuli.

This is a huge part of why we read genre writers and ask why there aren't more genre writers who win Nobel prizes - genre writing is one of the remaining places where story takes precedence over style. I also "blame" the current popularity of YA literature amongst adults on this as well - YA literature is another corner of the universe where storytelling has not taken a backseat to other concerns.

Without much of a national scene, there isn't much of an incentive for American readers to stampede to new books and to check out new voices. Before me, as a reader, maybe 3-4 new "serious" novels a year come out that have some popularity, that I regularly see on the subway. Behind me, the pile of great books from years' past just keeps on growing, and what's more, that pile comes pre-filtered to sort out the duds. And I mean, hell, there's actually usually a greater chance that I can actually talk to someone about one of the older books than I can one of the newer books.

My completely unscientific pet theory is that part of why we have so many narcissists as our Great American Writers is because, without extraordinary self-love, they'd otherwise have barely any support.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:38 AM on October 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


There were a disturbing number of fiction writers in my program who said things like, "I'd love to learn how to write fictional fiction someday."

Maybe they were all fictional characters!
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:40 AM on October 5, 2011


Ishmael Reed remains my favored US Nobel Lit candidate. I can't think of another living American writer who has produced such a body of work in every imaginable genre—fiction, essay, travelogue, poetry, drama, even music—and who has so relentlessly engaged with the breadth of American history and culture. His whole career seems to have "Nobel" written all over it and I'm always puzzled at why his name rarely even makes the short lists.

People want to read novels about middle class white people with romantic issues and decent taste in music, right?

I imagine Nick Hornby saying this to himself every morning as he leaps out of bed.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:42 AM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


A broad intelligence, with an insight into humanity.

Storytelling, always underestimated.

The ability to string together words so that they have appeal.

Now bundle all that up in a package that has the discipline to create works with coherency and purpose, without diminishing its creativity.

Great writing, a whole work, is a variety of miracle.
posted by dglynn at 7:45 AM on October 5, 2011


But seriously they should open this up to genre literature.

This is what Kim Stanley Robinson argues about the Man Booker prize (which editorial I would link to if the New Scientist hadn't moved it behind a paywall; here's Adam Roberts talking about it though.

Though I have a feeling the science fiction that would get nominated for literary awards wouldn't necessarily be the stuff that enthusiastic genre readers would want. Robinson advocates these (UK / Commonwealth) sf writers (quoting from a copy of the article I saved): "Brian Aldiss, Neal Asher, Iain Banks, Christopher Evans, Alasdair Gray, Colin Greenland, Jon Courtenay Grimwood, Peter Hamilton, Nick Harkaway, M. John Harrison, Robert Holdstock, Gwyneth Jones, Garry Kilworth, Doris Lessing, Ian R. MacLeod, China Miéville, Richard Morgan, Christopher Priest, Alastair Reynolds, Adam Roberts, Jennifer Rohn, Brian Stableford, Charles Stross, Lisa Tuttle..." (to which I would add off the top of my head Ian McDonald, Lauren Beukes, Ken Macleod, and Tricia Sullivan). Not the sf best-seller list, but a nice crop of talented writers.
posted by aught at 7:52 AM on October 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


Without much of a national scene, there isn't much of an incentive for American readers to stampede to new books and to check out new voices. Before me, as a reader, maybe 3-4 new "serious" novels a year come out that have some popularity, that I regularly see on the subway. Behind me, the pile of great books from years' past just keeps on growing, and what's more, that pile comes pre-filtered to sort out the duds. And I mean, hell, there's actually usually a greater chance that I can actually talk to someone about one of the older books than I can one of the newer books.

I see a really interesting split between new/old books in my weird little niche. I do a webcomic about books- each strip is a joke about a book I've read. Based on linkage and traffic to the strips, I can see pretty easily that people are A LOT more interested in talking about books of the past; strips about Voltaire or Hemingway or Vonnegut get orders of magnitude more attention than strips about Franzen's Freedom or Egan's A Visit from the Goon Squad. That bugs me, kind of, but I've accepted it as a boundary condition. And when I think about it at all, my own reading habits totally fit the pattern you describe...
posted by COBRA! at 8:01 AM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


You need to write what you know.

Patrick O'Brian reportedly never set foot on a sailboat in his life.
posted by stargell at 8:25 AM on October 5, 2011 [2 favorites]



Wel, shit. Now I do.

I think in the opening scene, the Bonus Army will hang Douglas MacArthur from the top of the Wshington Monument by his dick.


oh god, we can call it THE HEROES OF THE REVOLUTION and it's all about the problems in settling up an anarcho-communist collective in a united states that threatens to pull apart - make the movement mostly religious in nature as the glue for it and you end up with a "The Plot Against America" type thing.
posted by The Whelk at 8:33 AM on October 5, 2011


...with bindles and the awesome hobo graffiti code.
posted by COBRA! at 8:37 AM on October 5, 2011


Patrick O'Brian reportedly never set foot on a sailboat in his life.

That makes me love him even more. I really hope that's true.
posted by nevercalm at 8:42 AM on October 5, 2011


Opening it up to never fiction wouldn't help American writers much, as long as they actually consider Iassic Asimov, Arthur C. Clark and Robert Heinlein to be good writers.
posted by happyroach at 8:46 AM on October 5, 2011


Though I have a feeling the science fiction that would get nominated for literary awards wouldn't necessarily be the stuff that enthusiastic genre readers would want.

That actually sounds exactly like the fave-author list of most spec fic readers and fans that I know.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:10 AM on October 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


That actually sounds exactly like the fave-author list of most spec fic readers and fans that I know.

I don't know; a lot of true-blue sf readers are pretty obsessed with the inspiring but not-terribly-good-on-a-prose-quality-level Golden Age writers (to sort of echo happyroach's comment a couple back), and an awful lot of people seem to take Stephen King to be the Best Writer Ever, which kind of destroys their cred from a literary perspective.

I have to admit even on Robinson's prospective Booker candidate list, I'd leave out some of the mainly action-oriented writers like Asher, Banks-with-an-M, and Richard Morgan, as much as I have enjoyed reading their novels. And Peter Hamilton - some of his prose and characterization is simply terrible and KSR should not have included him in his Booker suggestion list. But genre authors like Christopher Priest, Adam Roberts, or Gywnyth Jones are sophisticated and impressive, and absolutely should be more seriously considered by those interested in literary novels.
posted by aught at 9:38 AM on October 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is because "write what you know" doesn't mean what over-eager young creative writing students often think it means. It doesn't mean "only write about the trivialities of your own little life" -

Except at this particular program, where it meant exactly that. This was a program (rather, the head professor) which was somewhat hostile not just to genre literature, but also to magic realism or foreign/unusual settings.

I do think that when dealing with very young writers, it's a good idea to encourage (rather than dictate) that they write from experience - so that they can concentrate on plot structure and other important skills while having the kind of veracity that deep knowledge of a place/time/culture can bring. I know that I did improve as a writer when I stopped working on fantasy epics and post-apocalyptic travelogues and wrote about 1980s Canadian ghettos. But I also conciously wrote about people very unlike myself - like how E.M. Forster wrote Maurice about a
man who lived in his situation (gay in c1912 England) but was utterly different in personality (very unself-reflective).
posted by jb at 9:40 AM on October 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


also, most favorite story of my friends is still the one which was set in a 1980s middle school, but also had fantasy/magic realism.
posted by jb at 9:42 AM on October 5, 2011


I was also surprised to see Asher and Hamilton on that list. Great fun and solid worldbuilding, but I can't see non-genre awards committees caring about them.

Banks with an M stays on the list for Use of Weapons. And no such list is complete without Gene Wolfe, who I assume was only omitted for not being UK. Or because KSR hates Pringles.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:47 AM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


This was a program (rather, the head professor) which was somewhat hostile not just to genre literature, but also to magic realism or foreign/unusual settings.

I can understand the impulse (having taught undegrad creative writing myself once upon a time) because genre conventions really can allow beginning writers to be lazy and formulaic, but I would think grad students would be given more leeway to understand different modes of fiction writing and decide what's going to work with their own strengths versus what's going to result in reams of self-indulgent derivative crap.
posted by aught at 9:48 AM on October 5, 2011


Except at this particular program, where it meant exactly that. This was a program (rather, the head professor) which was somewhat hostile not just to genre literature, but also to magic realism or foreign/unusual settings.

That reminds me of a manifesto of contemporary British literature, whose name I forget, published about a decade ago by a group of edgy young writers. It self-consciously copied DOGME 95, and insisted, among other things, that stories be set in a mundane setting and take place in real time. The first story in the inaugural compilation was about the narrator masturbating along the side of a busy motorway.
posted by acb at 9:55 AM on October 5, 2011 [3 favorites]



Patrick O'Brian reportedly never set foot on a sailboat in his life.

That makes me love him even more. I really hope that's true.

Here's the allegation (Cruising with Patrick O'Brian -
The Man and the Myth), along with other stuff, well worth reading.

Who really cares about the Nobel anyway? It as much about politics as literature. To hell with it.
posted by IndigoJones at 10:02 AM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


a lot of true-blue sf readers are pretty obsessed with the inspiring but not-terribly-good-on-a-prose-quality-level Golden Age writers

That seems like a bit of a false dichotomy to me: one can be perfectly appreciative of the Golden Age writers and be a big fan of everyone on Robinson's list. Just because they're all science fiction (or spec fic or SF or whatever you prefer) doesn't mean they're all trying to do the same thing in their work, and I think most (if not the most vocal) fans get that.
posted by Amanojaku at 10:03 AM on October 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


And no such list is complete without Gene Wolfe, who I assume was only omitted for not being UK.

That's right. There would be another list of prize-worthy (say, National Book Award worthy) U.S. genre writers as well, with people like Gene Wolfe, Ursula LeGuin, Samuel Delany, John Crowley, Karen Joy Fowler, Jonathan Lethem, Octavia Butler (before she died), Geoff Ryman, Kelly Link, Neil Gaiman, Robert Charles Wilson, Maureen McHugh, Matt Ruff, Lucius Shepard, Tim Powers, a couple of Michael Chabon's books, Neal Stephenson, perhaps K.S. Robinson himself.
posted by aught at 10:07 AM on October 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


That seems like a bit of a false dichotomy to me: one can be perfectly appreciative of the Golden Age writers and be a big fan of everyone on Robinson's list. Just because they're all science fiction (or spec fic or SF or whatever you prefer) doesn't mean they're all trying to do the same thing in their work, and I think most (if not the most vocal) fans get that.

Of course one can like both kinds of writing, and I do myself; that's not what I was talking about. One mode has more "literary" merit, by which I mean depth and complexity of characterization, quality and originality of prose style, insight into the more general human social condition, and sophistication of plot. As fun and sensawundery a lot of Golden Age sf is, it usually has a pretty serious lack of at least the first two or three of those.
posted by aught at 10:13 AM on October 5, 2011


I don't know; a lot of true-blue sf readers are pretty obsessed with the inspiring but not-terribly-good-on-a-prose-quality-level Golden Age writers (to sort of echo happyroach's comment a couple back), and an awful lot of people seem to take Stephen King to be the Best Writer Ever, which kind of destroys their cred from a literary perspective.

I am rolling my eyes at this so hard. Stephen King is a solid writer with some absolutely fantastic output, and enjoying him shouldn't invalidate any spec fic fan's (or literary fiction fan's) taste.

Anyway, in my work for spec fic rag Strange Horizons, the names I hear again and again lately are NK Jemisin's, China Mieville's, Iain Banks' . . . these are the Authors of Importance. Sf has its own canon, but that canon isn't as chock full of schlocky, mass market PBs as the literary world would have you believe.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:31 AM on October 5, 2011


Speaking of SF here, I've noticed for some years that over half now of my favorite SF writers are from outside the States, a situation that never existed for me during the 60s through 90s. I think the article and the comments here give me some insight as to why that is the case now. I completely agree with the various comments regarding how the American publishing industry and it's peculiar practices (all 3 publishers - or whatever now) is ruining writing for everybody.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 10:52 AM on October 5, 2011


And no such list is complete without Gene Wolfe, who I assume was only omitted for not being UK. Or because KSR hates Pringles.

Wolfe's politics might also be a stumbling block. The worldview on display in works like Home Fires is almost completely antithetical to that in works like 40 Days of Rain and differences like that can be hard for some people to get past.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 11:11 AM on October 5, 2011


Stalking the Billion-Footed Beast by Tom Wolfe (PDF)
posted by overeducated_alligator at 11:12 AM on October 5, 2011


No, GENE Wolfe. Tom is more of a Pulitzer type.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:29 AM on October 5, 2011


One mode has more "literary" merit...

I don't disagree about the problems that can crop up in Golden Age SF, and I appreciate your use of quotes on "literary", but to further fine-grain my argument, basically, I don't think there would be any pushback to the people on Robinson's list from most fans. In fact, as PhoBWanKenobi says, a bunch of them are really quite popular, and as ArtW points out above, there are basically already a bunch of genre writers winning literary awards, and nobody really minds.

Also: John Crowley.

Speaking of SF here, I've noticed for some years that over half now of my favorite SF writers are from outside the States, a situation that never existed for me during the 60s through 90s. I think the article and the comments here give me some insight as to why that is the case now. I completely agree with the various comments regarding how the American publishing industry and it's peculiar practices (all 3 publishers - or whatever now) is ruining writing for everybody.

Uh ... I can kind of get behind the spirit of what you're saying, but it's really not that simple. Without knowing precisely who you're talking about, in all probability, the companies that are "ruining writing for everybody" are the companies who are bringing those non-USian writers you like out here now, whether via overseas imprints or directly. And it should be noted that quite a few of the companies that make up the American publishing industry aren't American. For example, China Miéville's "Kraken" and "The City & The City" are from Ballantine/Del Rey, which are imprints of Random House, which is owned by German media giant, Bertelsmann.
posted by Amanojaku at 11:36 AM on October 5, 2011


"I am rolling my eyes at this so hard. Stephen King is a solid writer with some absolutely fantastic output, and enjoying him shouldn't invalidate any spec fic fan's (or literary fiction fan's) taste. "

Stephen King is a solid writer who overuses a cinematic multiple-perspective style, has an expert sense of narrative tension and flow, writes clunky dialogue, returns to the Evil Childhood (generally through a possessed toy) theme too often and could use an editor with the force of will to cut at least 20 percent of every book he's ever written. King is really good at the things he's good at, and mediocre to crappy at the things he's bad at, and prolific enough that there's a huge amount of both.
posted by klangklangston at 11:45 AM on October 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


I absolutely love science fiction but there's exactly one author I could see winning the Nobel Prize. The Nobel Prize has very specific criteria. They give out one per year, and it's understood that you've had to have already published a number of superlative works. So, basically, you have to be older than 50 and you have to plausibly thought of as one of the hundred best writers of the century. They haven't always gotten it right (the first couple of decades are something of a write-off) but on the whole I feel they've given it to deserving authors. There are some omissions, but in general I think that five hundred authors during the last century could've been plausibly thought of as among the very best. I don't think that not winning a Nobel is some sort of failure, though winning one is a pretty solid achievement. Of currently living SF authors who have produced an excellent body of work, are older than 50, and could be plausibly thought of as one of the hundred best authors of the century, I'd say that only Samuel R. Delany qualifies. I don't think he will, but I wouldn't start wondering if the Swedish Academy had grown a bumper crop of peyote if they gave it to Delany.
posted by Kattullus at 11:50 AM on October 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


I am rolling my eyes at this so hard. Stephen King is a solid writer with some absolutely fantastic output, and enjoying him shouldn't invalidate any spec fic fan's (or literary fiction fan's) taste.

We'll have to agree to disagree.
posted by aught at 12:36 PM on October 5, 2011


King is really good at the things he's good at, and mediocre to crappy at the things he's bad at, and prolific enough that there's a huge amount of both.

Whenever King makes some pronouncement on who can or can't write well, I roll my eyes at the idea of the "good" writer being good, but I always wince for the person whom he thinks is terrible. I can't imagine anything worse than having Stephen King tell you that you can't write.
posted by orange swan at 12:47 PM on October 5, 2011


And no such list is complete without Gene Wolfe, who I assume was only omitted for not being UK. Or because KSR hates Pringles.

Wolfe's politics might also be a stumbling block. The worldview on display in works like Home Fires is almost completely antithetical to that in works like 40 Days of Rain and differences like that can be hard for some people to get past.


It seems to me there are so many levels of narrative trickery and strange irony in Wolfe that the apparent politics of the story may or may not be what one thinks, never mind advocating Wolfe's own Catholicism and center-right political views. An example are reviews of the novella "Memorare" I came across on the web recently. Almost no one commenting positively or negatively on the story even got the basic meta-narrative conceit that framed the entire story - without which understanding the very ironic and 3D story would seem 2D, chauvinistic, pulpish, and frankly somewhat vapid. The ending, however, when read against some subtle clues in the course of the story, throws a different light on the whole thing. Very much like people misunderstanding what's going on in the "spider" sections of Vinge's _A Deepness in the Sky_.
posted by aught at 12:51 PM on October 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'd say that only Samuel R. Delany qualifies.

Of canonized sf writers, I actually think Ursula LeGuin would have a better chance than Delany.

Also, since Delany hasn't really been a sf writer for 20 years, I am not sure giving him a Nobel would even qualify as showing openness to genre writing. (Though I did see in a review that one of the sections of SRD's forthcoming novel is set in the future; still, I suspect it's not sf as many folks would like to see it from him. Such as the second half of Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand. Which is a brilliant, if incomplete, novel.)
posted by aught at 12:56 PM on October 5, 2011


I can't imagine anything worse than having Stephen King tell you that you can't write.

Oh, I can. Easily. Like having that Da Vinci Code guy tell you that you can't write.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:43 PM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I can't imagine anything worse than having Stephen King tell you that you can't write.

*Reavers
*Death by bunga
*Being eaten by a shark
*THE AGONIZER
*Impalement
*Severe explosive diarrhea in public
*Being mistakenly convicted of the rape, murder, and cannibalism of several children
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:17 PM on October 5, 2011


Stephen King is a solid writer who overuses a cinematic multiple-perspective style, has an expert sense of narrative tension and flow, writes clunky dialogue, returns to the Evil Childhood (generally through a possessed toy) theme too often and could use an editor with the force of will to cut at least 20 percent of every book he's ever written. King is really good at the things he's good at, and mediocre to crappy at the things he's bad at, and prolific enough that there's a huge amount of both.

I'd say about the same about, let's say, Joyce Carol Oates. King is better at voice, though. Also, I haven't read any books by him about a return to the Evil Childhood through a possessed toy? Of those that I've read by him in the past handful of years (Rage, The Long Walk, Dolores Claibourne, Gerald's Game, The Shining, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, Carrie, the stories in Different Seasons, Lisey's Story, Duma Key) none were about that. Not to say that it's not a theme he visited--I don't purport to be a completionist when it comes to his work--but I don't think it's omnipresent as are, say, alcoholic writers.

Agree about editing. But that's true of many commercially successful writers.

We'll have to agree to disagree.

Rather than judge people in broad strokes based on what they read, I offer that perhaps you should give asking them their reasons why they read something a try, instead. But literary writing serves to benefit from knee-jerk dismissals of commercially popular work--got to keep the riff raff out of the ivory tower--so I won't hold my breath.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:29 PM on October 5, 2011


you know what i liked was eXiled calling Nabokov 'eurotrash Ayn Rand'
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 2:44 PM on October 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm sorry. That was a bit snotty. But I think knee-jerk dismissals of literary merit by authors like King are truly problematic. His experiments with form and voice (Dolores Claiborne is a good example of both) and psychological and emotional honesty put him much closer in skill to authors like Oates and Atwood in my eyes than, say, James Patterson--despite the fact that he's mentally shelved with authors like Patterson and Brown by the literary establishment. That's not to say that he's not a flawed author--he is, clearly. But he also seems to touch a kernel of truth about the American psyche, and those traits make it difficult not to bristle against wholesale rejections of his work.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:45 PM on October 5, 2011


That depends on what you mean by "establishment." Sure, the odious windbags of the world shelve King with Patterson, but most academics I know like him. Personally I like King, but if someone said that he was their favorite author, I'd get second opinions on any recommendation they'd give me. As I said, I like his books, it's just it seems weird to me to have extreme opinions of his work.
posted by Kattullus at 3:03 PM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Not to say that it's not a theme he visited--I don't purport to be a completionist when it comes to his work--but I don't think it's omnipresent as are, say, alcoholic writers."

The ones I remember were mostly in short stories (as I tend to read more of those than his novels), and I remember them being in Battleground, The Monkey and It.

Also, I tend to hate Joyce Carol Oates too. Maybe I've never read the right thing, but she always seems so pompous and self-consciously writerly in a way that I don't enjoy.
posted by klangklangston at 3:03 PM on October 5, 2011


Sure, the odious windbags of the world shelve King with Patterson, but most academics I know like him.

Ah, my experiences in the lit fic academic world were to hear him summarily dismissed, over and over again. But perhaps my sample size is small and overly windbaggy.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:08 PM on October 5, 2011



And yet Murakami's the number three pick? Murakami, who's probably never really meant a single word he's ever written?

I dunno, man. I've got an advanced degree in literature and yet it basically still totally mystifies me.


I love Murakami because I'm... well... see above. He writes about alienated young men in love with beautiful women and the Beatles. There's never a shortage of them.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 3:32 PM on October 5, 2011


M John Harrison is amazing.

I like Stephen King, but I won't pretend he's a great writer. Neither will he.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 3:36 PM on October 5, 2011


Unless I'm seeing things, it looks like there's been a lot of late betting for Assia Djebar. That has sometimes been a sign that the name of the laureate has leaked out, but sometimes not (e.g. last year Cormac McCarthy had some late bets laid on him, but nothing came of it). For more pre-Nobel speculation, M. A. Orthofer at The Complete Review is your go-to guy. On the other hand, Assia Djebar is a writer that makes such obvious sense as a laureate, that it might be just a lot of people looking at the list and thinking: "Algerian woman? It's the year of the Arab Spring, sounds like just the ticket." That said, she'd be an incontestably deserving winner.
posted by Kattullus at 7:15 PM on October 5, 2011


I'm 10 years out of the grad. school/MFA cloaca, but I still chuckle to remember completely talentless, washed up creative writing profs bitching about students writing novels and movie scripts at the same time.

Yeah, fuck those guys if they haven't drunk themselves to death yet.
posted by bardic at 8:23 PM on October 5, 2011


The Nobel will be announced in about 6 hours, live at 7am EDT here.
posted by stbalbach at 9:41 PM on October 5, 2011


Of currently living SF authors who have produced an excellent body of work, are older than 50, and could be plausibly thought of as one of the hundred best authors of the century, I'd say that only Samuel R. Delany qualifies.

I love me some Delany, but really, come on.

At any rate, if Canada finally comes around for a turn at the Nobel (and I heard once that they choose the winner going by a previously decided list of countries, which is almost certainly not true, but anyway) then Alice Muno or Mavis Gallant, please. I also kind of think that it should be given only to female authors for the next 50 years, in order to balance this out.
posted by jokeefe at 9:49 PM on October 5, 2011


Well, a friend of mine says that authors should be judged on the strength of their five best books, which I've always thought was a pretty good way to think about writers. I feel that no living SF writer has a body of work that rivals The Einstein Intersection, Dhalgren, Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand, Mad Man and... well, it's hard to pick just one 'fifth' book.

Meanwhile, the live webcast of the Nobel announcement has started, though so far it's just journalist milling about in front of the door Peter Englund comes out of to announce the laureate.
posted by Kattullus at 3:53 AM on October 6, 2011


I'll be, Tomas Tranströmer. And I thought they wouldn't give it to a Swede for another few decades.
posted by Kattullus at 4:03 AM on October 6, 2011


The Transformers jokes have already started.
posted by minifigs at 4:24 AM on October 6, 2011


In which case I should probably link to this comic by our very own COBRA!
posted by Kattullus at 4:36 AM on October 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


We'll have to agree to disagree.

Rather than judge people in broad strokes based on what they read, I offer that perhaps you should give asking them their reasons why they read something a try, instead.


Sorry, I didn't mean to dismiss you - I was agreeing to disagree with the first part of what you wrote, not the invalidation of people's taste part, and I apologize for being ambiguous.
posted by aught at 9:06 AM on October 6, 2011


the adventures & misadventures of his member

Metafilter: the adventures & misadventures of its members
posted by krinklyfig at 11:57 AM on October 6, 2011


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