THE ONE THING which nobody on today’s literary scene seems capable of doing is telling the truth.
For instance, can’t everyone see that Jonathan Franzen’s novels are lethargically paced, the characters uninteresting? That in his thoughts and ideas, Franzen is an extreme mediocrity? Is the literary community that dumbed down, that universally stuporized? That incapable of knowing what real art looks and sounds like?
Workmanship isn’t art.
The great novelists have had touches of passion and madness. At the least, as with Dumas, a gut-wrenching intensity, a vision seeing not a monotone midlevel version of reality, but extreme highs and lows; pathetic deprivation to incandescent achievement.
The novel won’t return to its pre-eminent place in this society, in this civilization, based on blandness. It needs a spiritual cause; it needs to be intelligent—truly intelligent; not merely recycling the stale made-up myths of the day—and most of all it needs to passionately feel.