Monday, July 03, 2006

I just read this article on the voice of our generation.

The article is retarded.

There first fuck up was mentioning J.D. Salinger. The reason Catcher and The Rye was made famous because it was the cold war. The Catcher in the Rye is capitalist propaganda. The book is supposed to make working class and poor people think that rich people suffer. 1. That they shouldn't climb the ladder because it will only make them suffer. 2. Don't become communist because rich people suffer too. Korean War 1950 to 1953. Catcher in the Rye published 1951. What were the fucking chances.

"Wallace, Franzen, Lethem and Chabon may be great writers"

To who?

"So it's only natural to wonder who's taking care of the novel--who's taking up the torch and where exactly they're taking it."

Yes, writing novels is like sports.

"Jonathan Safran Foer (Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close) has got a lot of attention both popular and critical, and he's only 29."

I write movies that use historical events that have built in emotion, and that have nothing to do with me.

"Every once in a while a novel comes along that makes everything else feel dated, that feels as current as tomorrow's e-mail, that gives readers the story of their own secret ineffable desperation with such immediacy that it induces spontaneous mass recognition as the Voice."

Tao, do you have a gun with two bullets. One for you, and one for me.

"F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Jack Kerouac, Joseph Heller,"

Maybe because they actually lived cool lives and had something to write about. And no mention of Norman Mailer, Acker, Yates or Bukowski. This is too good.

"Or could the professionalization of "creative writing," in the form of scores of M.F.A. programs, actually be retarding the progress of contemporary literature--hammering eccentric geniuses into workshop-style conformity, then drowning them out by handing diplomas to their mediocre peers by the bushel?"

If you were an eccentric genius. You would not be affected by an MFA. You would be eccentric and a genius, which implies only that you aren't a coward and lazy.

"The voice of a generation could just be a convenient fiction, propagated by academics looking for dissertation topics, publicists looking for publicity and (surely not) book critics looking for a headline"

No, because all the big publishers suck. At one point a press was a press and not a giant corporation that if you followed the money trail led to arms dealers.

""When people say generation, they're usually not including, say, people who live in Africa, Asia and people without bank accounts,""

That is dumb. The whole generation thing is dumb: Hemingway wrote no novels that even took place in America. Also what does an Erskine Caldwell or a Richard Wright novel have to with a Hemingway novel? I don't know. I'm confused or a Jack Kerouac novel have to do with a Richard Yates or Heller. I'm confused.

"Fictional characters just can't get away with being generically white and middle class and male anymore."

No, now they get away with being generically upper class.

"They write about characters who cross borders, from East to West, from Old World to New and back again, and the many and varied tolls they pay along the way."

The best thing ever done on that was Godfather 2.

"The fact is, a generation of readers will probably never again come together around a single book the way they did in the 20th century."

They never did.

how about this for voice of our generation:

Jean Rhys' Good Morning, Midnight, Jean Paul Sartre's Nausea. And Dalton Trumbo's Johnny Got his Gun for our troops. Also Tale of Two Cities, the Madame DeFarge chapters for our workers.


nic chiarella said...

"Are we simply living through a downturn, one of those periodic dead spots wherein the muses take a smoke break?"

No, but Lubriderm lost that nagging scent, and masturbation's become much more fun.

"Look at the heroes of the iconic books of those previous eras: Jake Barnes, Holden Caulfield, Dean Moriarty--bad seeds and square pegs, all of them. The paradox of every Voice novel is that it brings a generation of readers together around the idea that they alone are the single badass misfit truth teller in a world full of phonies."

I think Montaigne did that in the 1570's.

"I may love and empathize with the transplanted Bengalis who populate Lahiri's fiction, or Shteyngart's semi-Americanized Russians, or Foer's uprooted Old Worlders or Smith's international extended families. But I would never be so foolish as to mistake any of them for myself"

We wouldn't want to accidentally see anyone as simply being a human, woud we?

"Listen for the singular voice of the current generation, and you'll hear something else, something different: multiple voices, singing not in unison, but in harmony."

Yeah, Noah. You and Candace Bushnell and Foer are like a regular three-part harmony.

tom l said...

doesn't it seem like "the current generation" is a new one every 18 months or so? "generation" being a popular marketing tool since the 60's. so if you're the 'voice of your generation' that means you're last year's model already.

chapman said...

time magazine...another searing, incisive essay from time magazine

Scott Eric Kaufman said...

I've gotta agree with that last comment: I can't think of a shittier venue for this discussion than Time. That said, I think all Noah's candidates are, well, too remote to count as "The Voice of Our Generation."

Then again, I italicized those bastards above to point to the stupidity inherent in any judgments of the sort. Because seriously, now that America's literary culture consists of more than Wonder Bread and a few select Jews, there's no way to identify who "we" are, which generation "we" belong to, or which novelist best captures the experience of "our" lives. Back when the world was white and hellaciously parochial, John Updike could represent us all; but now that we're man and woman enough to admit that upper-class white folk ain't the end-all and be-all of American life, we have to accept that all such decisions are as rife with dissent as, say, South African literature.

somebody said...