Friday, October 07, 2005

In Defense of the Avant Garde

Author Ben Marcus contributed a thought provoking essay to Harpers titled Why Experimental Fiction Threatens to Destroy Publishing, Jonathan Franzen, and Life as We Know It (printed only in part need to buy the mag for the full essay). The title is tongue-in-cheek; Ben Marcus, a long-time supporter and creator of experimental fiction, reacts here against comments author Jonathan Franzen published in various places over the past year or so.

If you're not inclined to read the article, Franzen has printed in various places (most recently in an online chat at the NY Times) how experimental fiction, including historical works like Joyce's Ulysses, create a barrier between the mass reading public and authors and are at least partially to blame for the drop in overall sales of literature. Marcus even notes a recent short story by Franzen in which an author becomes embittered by following his pursuits of experimental fiction while his ex-wife enjoys a profitable writing career in Hollywood.

I'm not sure what more to write that Marcus doesn't already, but will include as a reminder that Franzen was the bloke that turned down the offer for his novel The Corrections to become an Oprah book. Just seems he's clamoring for the popularity, acclaim and money he missed out on and he's trying to place blame wherever he can.


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