Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Saul Bellow

A well-promoted novelist in this instance picked the wrong week to move on!

I've given my opinion of Bellow's work before on this thread. I respect him as a novelist, a good one. He certainly, though, didn't live up to the hype that was laid on him. (His best work was a novella-- most of his novels tended to get bogged down in cut-rate solipsistic philosophizing.)

It's a sign of the decaying position of American letters that a merely competent author has ruled for so long as our chief novelist, according to critics-- though his creative growth and imagination became stagnant over forty years ago.

The literary establishment has begun dying off. Sontag; Bellow. Who's next? (Is Updike still alive? Has anyone recently checked?)

Who will replace these cardboard titans? Jonathan Franzen? Graph the lit-establishment and it seems to be on a steep course downward.

12 comments:

Emerson Dameron said...

Mailer's been quiet. When Updike got that PEN award for his decades-old casuals, I got the same feeling I did when Jimmy Carter failed to appear in those Tsunami relief ads. I think Tom Wolfe is furiously scribbling his memoirs.

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Adam Hardin said...

That is still hilarious about Updike getting an award for decades old work. It is something to use again and again .

Reminds me of the notorious incident at the Emmys when they first established the Heavy Metal Category and Jethro Tull won against Metallica.

Adam Hardin said...

Excuse me, "the Grammys." There are so many award shows, you get them confused.

Like the Literary World, giving more awards never helped the quality of the work.

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Marissa Ranello said...

I've completely tuned out Mailer's name since...forever.

Does anyone know what Mailer's motivation was to help Jack Henry Abbott get out of prison in 2000?

Enlighten me, that always boggled me.

Emerson Dameron said...

Marissa,
Mailer would (to this day, I imagine), chew off his index fingers if it made him appear tough. While in the joint, Abbott ran the lonely-hearts game on Norm, building his fantasy with letters because he had fuck-all else to do. When he got out, he couldn't stay under Mailer's wing - he had to knife a stranger because that's how real cons react to a perceived slight, even those with lit pretensions. He went back to prison, thereby bolstering Mailer's badass self-image even more.

King said...

My opinion is that the crank posts are being done by a handful of people-- the "Usual Suspects."
We know that Eggers has posted anonymously against the ULA in the past. Also that his wife has been thought to make crank phone calls.
If the identities were revealed, I don't think they'd be surprising-- the same-old characters who've done such things in the past.

Anonymous said...

Yes! It is so awesome all these people are dying! And this is the perfect opportunity for the ULA to step in and take over American literature.

All we have to do now is come up with a couple of books that tens of thousands of people are willing to spend their hard-earned money on, and read and reread and talk about. Books that encapsulate our cultural moment, that give voice to the struggle of people to survive and understand one another in a beautiful and hostile world. Now how do we do that? King? Noah? Lil' help?

Noah Cicero said...

Anon

"Books that encapsulate our cultural moment, that give voice to the struggle of people to survive and understand one another in a beautiful and hostile world."

That sounds like MFA/MTV ideology.
Read "Secutity" by Nowlan, "Half Empty" by Tim Hall, and Wenclas' "Hot Poetry," Those books give voice to people, but in very different way than you said.

I got a question Hardin or King you might know this. I know Eggers teaches some writing class to kids. My question is, can those kids afford to go to Columbia and Iowa? Because if they can't why is he doing that?

Anonymous said...

"Who's next?"

Frank Conroy, director of the MFA program at Iowa.

Anonymous said...

I thought Bellow had died years ago. But I always confused him with Singer anyway.

With Joyce Carol Oatmeal our reigning queen of letters, what to expect from the lit club set?

Who can replace Kurt Vonnegut when he finally kicks the bucket? You can hear them snickering in the background, waiting their chance to kick him once he's gone.