Monday, May 23, 2005

An Unusual Occurrence

In today's "Metro" newspapers is a long interview with Sean Wilsey, author of the memoir Oh, the Glory of It All. The article, by Amy Benfer, is titled, "Revisiting a Privileged Childhood."

Hasn't this already been done?

In the lead up to the interview Benfer says (typos included), "--the memoir makes something that closely resembling high art out of the small art of being raised grandly, absurdly and somewhat tragically rich."

"Even before Sean Wilsey's first book hit the shelves, it was greeted with exuberant reviews, excerpted in the New Yorker and the San Francisco Chronicle and chatter in the gossip columns, including a front page piece in the New York Times Style Section. . . ." This continues with a lot of name-dropping highlighting Wilsey's well-connected background.

The easy hype given Wilsey's book demonstrates that not a lot has changed since the days of Plimpton in the 1950s. Established literature is still chiefly focused on the lives and febrile observations of the extremely wealthy. As long as book editors are from privilege, agents are from privilege, and mainstream journalists are from privilege, this is unlikely to change. The trick is to construct real alternatives-- then make noise about them.

Oh, by the way, Sean Wilsey is "a long-time editor at McSweeney's."

We see who represents literary change and who does NOT.


Tim Hall said...

Didn't you get the memo? Rich is the new poor, privilege is the new deprivation, education is the new ignorance--

oh wait...scratch that last one

"grandly, absurdly and somewhat tragically rich."

That's the "affluently middle-class" for ya!

frantic said...

oh my goodness, those mcsweeney's people are just so fascinating! it is impossible to think about anything else! they exist, therefore they are keeping us from being recognized! how evil it is that they keep doing that! no wonder we cannot stop thinking about them!

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