Monday, January 17, 2005

An Honest Article?

The Jan/Feb issue of The Atlantic contains a frank article by lit-Insider Walter Kirn entitled, "How I Traded an Education for a Ticket to the Ruling Class," in which he admits that his expensive years at Princeton were a waste of money and time-- but for the fact that it gave him entrance into the ruling cirlces of literature. His real reading-- his literary education-- came afterward when on his own he read the Great Books. (Which I read while working nights in a railroad yard.) At a time when leading positions at major mags are held by Ivy Leaguers, with a smattering of Brits, and when the money-backed lit authors also are Ivy League grads, the Kirn article calls into question the entire current weeding-out process for finding great authors. All we can really say is that it doesn't work. Kirn gives a clue why not.

(Btw, I uncovered the corruption of academic writing programs in the 90s in my zeen New Philistine, notably in an issue in 1995 which discussed the incestuous relationship between the National Endowment for the Arts and Asociated Writing Programs. The issue was publicly ripped to shreds at Bennington's summer writing conference that year in front of many prominent lit writers, who did nothing in response other than inform me about it. So much for the credibility of academy lit writers. To me they're domesticated pets on display in pet shops. No change is coming from them.)


Anonymous said...


Are you talking about Walter Kirn, author of THUMB SUCKER?

Ahhh. I thought so.

Tim Hall

Nostalgianaut said...

Thanks for posting that! That was a great article! I've sent it along to other friends.