THE PROBLEM with the New Yorker “Twenty” is that their stories aren’t hitting the New Yorker’s own demographic, much less going beyond it. The Twenty are writing their stories for themselves—the Twenty, as if they were another workshop group. Few non-literary readers will be interested in these concoctions. The only other folks Jonathan Foer’s piece could possibly be written for are hard core academy lit critics. “Genre busting” in this instance means a work nobody could read. Joshua Ferris’s is written for arts social climbers, with tacked-on stock literary ending where the character ruminates through his own stupidity while falling, falling, through something. (Which has been done only 5,000 times.) With the others, you see them being read in some class or Brooklyn apartment with hipster members of the workshop nodding their heads in a pose of significance.
A business woman, say, on a plane, headed for an important meeting involving complex machinations will find in the stories: nothing. The stories are either stupendously boring or they read like childishness, because they reflect the mentality of children.
Say what you will about my own fledgling pop story attempts at www.americanpoplit.blogspot.com, they’re written for people to read; from “Mr. Box” to “The H Group” to “Jezebel” to “Saturday Night in Detroit.” Perfectly accomplished or not, they aim at a general demographic every writer should seek.