Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Bubble Boys

One thing you can be sure of about the Bubble Boys at n+1 is that their ideas are consistently wrong. Latest is the essay about MFA programs, "MFA versus NYC."

Two points about it. First, their premise that MFA programs are healthy because at least writers are read by other writers is a bridge too far. Writers don't read other writers, beyond those in The New Yorker or a few "Best" collections, who are studied as successful models. Otherwise, forget it. This is why standard lit journals have no readers.

Second, the Bubble Boys disdain the notion of writing for "the market," which means writing for an audience, which means writing for other people. Can't have that. So the writer writes for him-or-her self.

Since they don't read one another's work anyway, it makes no difference.

4 comments:

Tim W. Brown said...

I thought the essay grappled pretty admirably with the two dominant streams in contemporary lit. That said, it left out several relevant, thriving streams: 1. The small/independent press that is beholden to neither colleges nor NY trade publishing. 2. Spoken word poetry, which includes many writers who don't care whether their work is published. 3. The ethnic press, for example the scene surrounding the Harlem Book Fair, which exists quite apart from either colleges or trade publishing, consisting of urban fiction and nonfiction that is sold outside traditional bookselling channels (hair salons, tables on the street, Africana stores, etc.).

Frank Marcopolos said...

I think this is the link, but if so, it's kind of a short article:

http://nplusonemag.com/mfa-vs-nyc

Shelley said...

I've always wondered if one of the reasons Frost's work is so good is that his target audience was a small "college town"--readers who were educated but still leading real lives.

Like the rest of us. In this recession. Realer than we want it to be.

King said...

As Tim says, there are alternatives out there and have always been alternatives, as he knows well as a participant in the zine movement of the 1990's. The trick is to make them viable alternatives. This requires nothing more than the will of writers like you or me to make it happen.