BOOKFORUM's Eric Banks also says something to the effect that "no matter what you hear, there's a tremendous amount going on in publishing today."
To which I reply, "Bullshit!"
This isn't exactly 1925, when both The Great Gatsby and An American Tragedy were published, with Sun Also Rises out the next year, and giants like Faulkner, Dos Passos, and Sinclair Lewis producing a stream of near-masterworks during the same time period.
Today we get BOOKFORUM writer Claire Messud, who gushes about unmagical unreal novels with passages that have to be read over three or four times to be understood, and whose own award-winning productions presumably are similarly incomprehensible; whose prose shown to us in BF is a clogged dense mass of lifeless and stupid verbiage.
Meanwhile, excellent clear-headed and intelligent novelists like Lawrence Richette and Phillip Routh (yes, that's his name) are reduced to publishing through Xlibris. Now, if BOOKFORUM printed an essay about Routh's work, instead of Roth's, THEN they would be topical and relevant.
But the overeducated snob aristocrats who've taken over the publishing world don't know what's out there and don't WANT to know. They'd rather cling to the familiar. When Philip Roth goes they'll have to stuff him and pretend he's still cranking out books, and have some mediocre MFA student dummy up his novels-- or maybe Claire Messud-- with suitably ridiculous plots. (It's said the next one will be about what would happen had Warren G. Harding lived.)
They'll prop the preserved Roth against the wall at author receptions, next to the preserved Updike, Bellow, and others of that ilk, giving employment to a host of standing-next-to-them ventriloquists.
The New York literary elite of which BOOKFORUM is part lives bunkered down in their office buildings-- in their own Green Zone-- clueless about what's happening in the provinces; eyeing the country and population fearfully; traveling through it in intellectual Humvees, their closed-off shut-down minds well-protected against potential intellectual hostility and assault.