Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Core ULA Ideas

The core ULA idea is that status quo literature has failed the culture. It's decrepit, corrupt, boring, insular, fossilized, and becoming ever more marginalized in the minds of the general public.

The ULA idea is that literature can redeem this society; by the people for the people. For this to happen the present structure needs to be overthrown.

Established literature has become a vampire. We're driving a stake directly through the heart of it.

9 comments:

LongIslandNation said...

I think BR Myers should publish a revised verion of "A Reader's Manifesto" and include Krauss, Foer, and Pessl.

James Joyce Is the Greatest Writer... Ever said...

The first one was junk. The idea that one can extract a handful of sentences out of a 400 page novel and critique a writer is dumb.

Besides Cormac McCarthy is perhaps one of our greatest living writers. Proulx overdoes it on occasion. Delillo is shit. David Gutterson...seriously, when was the last time anyone talked about him? The very example of literary single hit wonderism

LongIslandNation said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LongIslandNation said...

(Previous comment deleted for a typo.)

That's one critique of his critique, that he pulls the sentences out of context. I'll grant you that.

But I think he made some good points about DeLillo (whom you apparently hate as well) and the idea that critics tend to laud "sentences" rather than the overall work...as well as the idea that if you find a work too dense (or whatever word you'd like to choose), it's simply the reader's fault.

(But that's also not to say that just because I have trouble with, say, "Ulysses," that James Joyce is shit. It doesn't mean that all lit has to be lowest common denominator, either.)

I'll also grant you your point on McCarthy. But I tried to read Proulx's "Accordion Crimes"...unbearable.

I didn't agree (or even understand) all of the Manifesto, but I liked reading some contrarian opinions.

It's like (as I lob a potential firecracker into the room) Lee Siegel. Sometimes he writes overinflated bilge (note his million-word review of Mailer in the NYTBR), but sometimes his criticism is refreshing.

James Joyce Is the Greatest Writer... Ever said...

But I think he made some good points about DeLillo (whom you apparently hate as well) and the idea that critics tend to laud "sentences" rather than the overall work...as well as the idea that if you find a work too dense (or whatever word you'd like to choose), it's simply the reader's fault.

I agree with you here. I think critics that do that have a need to find something that can be praised in a work that lacks substance. This is a problem of reviewing fiction. Non-fiction doesn't have this problem since the idea is usually to critically review the thesis. I like good writing, i.e. literary art, but there has to be substance behind it. I think Hemingway is the best example of literary-minimalism with substance-maxim. John Cheever also came close.

If a (fiction) book isn't reviewed somewhat critically then it perhaps shouldn't be reviewed. The worst reviews are simply plot summaries, which can be picked up from the book jacket anyway. I don't mean heavy handed criticism (a la academic theory).

As for Delillo, he is unbearable. I cannot believe that what he inserts in-between quotation marks is called dialogue. I call it wood. This is the difference between him and McCarthy (one of the differences anyway): McCarthy is faithful in dialogue (even though he pisses me off with his refusal to use quotation marks).

(But that's also not to say that just because I have trouble with, say, "Ulysses," that James Joyce is shit. It doesn't mean that all lit has to be lowest common denominator, either.)

I think there are people who don't like Ulysses in good faith. Granted, there are those who shy away from something difficult, but I have found a lot of people who think the reward wasn't worth the effort; but they did put in effort. I can fully respect those opinions, but I tend to not respect the opinions of those who dislike it because they expect "plot". Not because I am a snob (I enjoy genre, I even read Harry Potter books and liked the Da Vinci Code) but because I believe that fiction can't be monolithic in an Aristotelian "Beginning, Middle, and end" way. In Literary Fiction, I expect either illustrious prose and/or psychological depth. When I read commercial fiction, I want pure story. I don't judge commercial fiction by literary standards or vice versa.

I'll also grant you your point on McCarthy. But I tried to read Proulx's "Accordion Crimes"...unbearable.

Same here. I wonder why she just doesn't write poetry, because the prose poetry tends to fail. I enjoyed her short story collection "Close Range" and Brokeback Mountain is truly exemplary. Accordian Crimes failed in my opinion. By the time she got to the New Orleans part of the story (which was within 40 pages) I was bored by all aspects of the book.

I didn't agree (or even understand) all of the Manifesto, but I liked reading some contrarian opinions.

Same here. I just think he took a great thesis and went astray. He is not a literary critic (I believe he is some sort of expert of Korean affairs) and this was supposed to be a strength (i.e. someone outside the artistic field, a pure consumer, critiquing the products) but it didn't work. There is so much bad litfic out there I wouldn't know where to begin. The playfulness for one (especially Foer and Pessl) is a tic of current writers. Lack of content is what is unifying about contemporary litfic. The prose is overwrought, the psychological depth is facile, and knowledge of the human condition is not enhanced. It's just all so bad. For every Cormac McCarthy and William Treavor there are 1000s of Eggers, Moodys and Pessls.

It's like (as I lob a potential firecracker into the room) Lee Siegel. Sometimes he writes overinflated bilge (note his million-word review of Mailer in the NYTBR), but sometimes his criticism is refreshing.

I agree.

King said...

I'd say you're in trouble if you have to use 70 year-old Cormac McCarthy as an example of the health of today's literary world.

jimmy grace said...

How much younger is Jack Saunders?

James Joyce Is the Greatest Writer... Ever said...

70 year-old Cormac McCarthy as an example of the health of today's literary world.

I can't name too many young literary fiction writers that I like. I think it has to do with the maturation process. All the writers that really move me are 40+. I think it is hard for someone who is young to really capture aspects of the human condition, in a certain way. I am not being ageist, I just think young writers these days are too quick to show off their stylistic abilities and political views versus their ability to dissect humanity.

As for genre fiction, I think the under 50 crowd is doing great work especially in Sci-Fi.

chilly charlie said...

Jimmy, don't you agree that Dean Haspiel is a fucking asshole closet faggot?

Just like you?

I'm glad his brother is dead.