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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Contemporary Literature

Julian Gough has written a nice little article lamenting the fact that humor has disappeared from contemporary literature. He asks, "Why is it so worthy and dull? Why is it so anxious? Why is it so bloody boring?" Certainly not all of it, but since Oprah the themes of overcoming the pain of childhood certainly seems in vogue. But why? We're a prospering North America. We like humorous movies. Could it be that we suffer from what I call the Picasso Syndrome, the rich collecting paintings where the poor are the subject matter. Or is it as Jane Smiley said, that humor is different for everyone, thus harder to generically win approval. What one finds funny the next finds offensive. Well, if you've read my work, you know I enjoy humor and wit in art. It's a form of discrimination combined with sardonic spice. Remember, he who laughs last thinks slowest.

So Yaan Martel is sending Harper books by dead white authors in his campaign to "make suggestions to his stillness," whatever that means. Two questions: Does Bush lite even read? Does mailing books forgive Martel from ripping off Moacyr Scliar's Max and the Cats for his Life of Pi? Funniest in that old story is how Martel never admitted it until forced to eat crow, then the publisher, I guess to help quell the uproar, added an addendum to the books.

And finally the newspapers are chopping critics, both literature and art, left and right. Write your local newspapers. The last thing anyone wants for the arts is papers that run on newswire publicity pieces, or who only have one arts writer who generally writes about his or her friends. If you want to read on all aspects of literary criticism, check out Critical Mass the blog about all things critical and bookish.