Sunday, July 10, 2005

The Literary Past

The lit-establishment is on display in all its cronyistic moldiness in the new issue of the Atlantic monthly magazine. The issue should have a label with big letters slapped on it: "THE PAST." The Usual Suspects are present, with an opening essay about halycon days at Columbia and Brown by the Poster Boy for Literary Corruption, and contributions from tired failed fraudulent lit-fossils like Joyce Carol Oates, Billy Collins, Charles Baxter, and others. The ideas expressed represent the lit-world circa 1990 (or older).

The issue was apparently put together by C. Michael Curtis, an Insider's Insider, who I profiled in a zeen in 2000 after seeing him on a NYC panel. I described him then as a lifeless sack of potatoes plopped into a chair. I doubt, judging by the new issue's contents, that the sack has become anymore animated in the years since.

2 comments:

King said...

Striking to me is the way old fashioned mags turn themselves into deliberate anachronisms.
I don't think anyone would deny that writers like Baxter and Oates haven't had anything new to say in many decades. (If they ever had.)
The philosophy must be based on the Atlantic's readership-- upper-bourgeois folks who haven't noticed the world has changed over the past thirty years.
They don't want to admit that literature has changed and IS changing.
Sad anachronisms.
(If they held their own reading they'd have to bring Oates and Baxter in with walkers. Both are on artistic life support. The question is how long venues like the Atlantic keep such outdated artists going-- minimally, dragging literature further toward irrelevance and lethargy. Isn't it time to pull the plug on them and be done with it?)

Red said...

Charles Baxter is an outstanding writer (The Feast of Love, his Saul and Patsy stories) and perceptive literary critic (see Burning Down the House). Your insults are unwarrented.