Diana E. Sheets argues that the great American novel is dead. To do so, she lines up a couple of strawmen and proceeds to beat the crap out of ’em:
Path-breaking fiction telling the American story has been replaced with fabulist memoir (James Frey’s, “A Million Little Pieces” in 2003) and celebrity scandal (“If I Did It,” O.J. Simpson’s “hypothetical” account of the murder of his wife and Ronald Goldman. It was to be published by Regan Books/HarperCollins before it was cancelled and later reissued by Beaufort Books as “If I Did It: Confessions of the Killer” by the Goldman family with comments by ghostwriter Pablo Fenjves and journalist Dominick Dunne).
Are these the only American stories to be had in publishing today? What if books were judged based on ethical standards of quality and content?
Right. Last time I was at a bookstore it was nothing but Frey and O.J., O.J. and Frey. I wept, I tell ya. I wept. There’s a longer version of the piece, with quotes from Network, on Sheets’ site.
One thought on “Take That, Nonexistent Problem!”
The irony is that the “reality show” surrounding the publication of “lying memoirs”, as exemplifed in the tales of James Frey and O.J. Simpson, is more illustrative of our social nexus than hundreds, if not thousands, of novels published today. That, in itself, is the best indicator of the impoverished state of fiction these days. It was a delight to watch your video interview with Manil Suri. I enjoyed reading The Death of Vishnu, and I look forward with great pleasure to reading The Age of Shiva.