Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Magazine Report: THE BELIEVER

October Issue.

Few readers will make it beyond the endless Rick Moody letter at the front of this lit-journal. I didn't! For unrelieved flatulence the 10,000-word-plus letter can't be stopped:

"It's hard not to list uncomfortably close to the idea that the NYTBR in fact endorses the spirit of the Wieseltier review, and its institutional muteness on his inability to provide any context for baker's work can be construed as support for the strategy and for the jeremiad that the review soon becomes. . . ."

Golly! Moody is discussing Nicholson Baker, the author, by Moody's count, of "at least three masterpieces." It's heartening to think that ANY recent American novelist has produced a masterpiece, much less three of them! "at least." Maybe literature isn't in as sad a shape as most people think. Or maybe Baker's books are masterpieces only within a narrow world. By now this world has shrunk to the size of a Manhattan cocktail party, several dozen foppish authors bouncing their glittering opinions off themselves and the mirrored walls of the glittering room they're in.

"Serious literature is by its nature not desperate to get noticed," Moody asserts, which says everything about his point of view. As long as he and his wonderful friends continue collecting lavish advances and grant money-- then who cares if the American public ever notices? ("Notice," as they stuff their pockets, would be the last thing they'd want.) At the same time though it's strange that Moody never turns DOWN the very publicity about which he complains-- including splashy articles and interviews in the same NY TIMES that is the subject of his rage.

The revamped TIMES BOOK REVIEW in particular is his target. He accuses TIMES editor Bill Keller of pounding "the last few nails into the coffin of American book culture." Sorry, Moody, but that coffin was finished long before by people like you, dead body enclosed. Keller is trying to revive the corpse.

Would the ULA have been mentioned in the BOOK REVIEW before their changes? Not likely, as we oppose the Aristocrats who wish to keep "book culture" in their perfumed embrace, within their closed, mirrored penthouse.

If the NYTBR now prints reviews that people actually read, which can provoke a response (as Moody's letter proves), this is all to the good. The TIMES has an extremely long way to go, but at least-- unlike Moody, who shows he's a dinosaur who should be prematurely retired to his exclusive island to write "serious literature" for an audience of one-- they're headed in the right direction.

1 comment:

Adam Hardin said...

Rick has become his own critic, and can not see why people do not want to read his work.

Because of the influence of Academia, there is a breakdown between the role of critic and the role of artist.

The critic is the artist, and so praises himself, writes more, and gives himself more praise. The dog is chasing his own tail.