Sara Nelson of Publishers Weekly made an apologia on her blog for David Foster Wallace, admitting his work is "difficult" for readers but that it's the job of publishers to search for and present such work-- presumably because of its high quality. This shows that the monopoly publishing industry is fundamentally flawed, flawed at its very foundations: its understanding of what is or isn't art.
Nelson mistakes information for art. Foster Wallace filled his books with huge chunks of information and words, to the extent they're impressive feats. But what has this to do with art?
Anyone can cobble together a mass of sentences, chapter by chapter, until there are enough to fill a thick volume. "Difficult," yes. Inscrutable, for the most part, fit for academic monks in dusty libraries to pore over in mad quests for purpose and sense. Fine, it's been done. But this isn't literature, or rather, it's a very obscure branch of literature, extending into rarefied air. It's not how literature is going to grab and hold a new audience, which can be done only with clarity, passion, movement, excitement-- the pounding pulses of readers frantically turning pages of books in enthrallment to plot, characters, color, and enlightenment spoken by a captivating voice, presenting work and a world open to all.
That the purveyors of books today at the highest levels don't understand this is both tragedy AND farce.
Sara Nelson of Publishers Weekly, a well-educated literary person, admits she couldn't finish David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest. Yet at the same time she believes this is the kind of product which should be presented to the American public.
Think if Nelson were an executive at an auto company. She presents a complex, high-tech marvel which doesn't run. The first 43 pages of the owner's manual are devoted to how to put the key into the ignition, footnotes included. The vehicle is not user-friendly, but to Sara Nelson of the Dinosaur Motor Company that's not the point.
Few people will want the car and those few who do will be a select group. Like Nelson, they'll buy the car not to drive it, but to park it on display, permanently, in their driveways. The point is the car's overcomplexity, unwieldiness, and artificial status.