Things That Are Older Are More Meaningful Than Things That Are Not So Old, or, Ten Things That Contemporary Fiction Must Be, Have, Do, Provide, or Resemble to Regain its Cultural Relevance, According to Lee Siegel

What I was able to extract from Siegel’s essay in the New York Observer:

1. “ineffable private and public clarity”

2. “really alive”

3. “vibrant experience”

4. “mischief”

5. “embracing more and more of the world with your will”

6. “urgently alive”

7. “existential urgency and intensity”

8. “illumined the ordinary events of ordinary lives”

9. “relevant and alive”

10. “Dreiser”

(via)

4 responses to “Things That Are Older Are More Meaningful Than Things That Are Not So Old, or, Ten Things That Contemporary Fiction Must Be, Have, Do, Provide, or Resemble to Regain its Cultural Relevance, According to Lee Siegel

  1. Wow. Even by the standards of its own genre, the screed, this is remarkably ill-informed and incoherent. And I say that as someone who reads much more in the 18th century than the 20th!

    Where are the counter-lists, he asks? Um, here’s one, at the Millions. Commercial fiction is no longer as relevant to people’s lives as it was? “[N]othing is popular”? Good god, is he really typing those words? Even if Stephanie Meyer doesn’t count in his universe, what about The Da Vinci Code? Stieg Larsson? No, I don’t think those are good books, but most commercial fiction has never been particularly good. And I do know that those books matter to people, that people talk about and lend and stay up late for those books.

    What a way to start the morning.

  2. Awesome. So, thinking negatively, contemporary fiction shouldn’t be “privately or publicly vague,” “really dead,” “banal,” “obedient,” “exclusionary,” “urgently dead,” “illumine the extraordinary,” “abstruse and dead,” “whatever the opposite of Dreiser is.”

    Unhelpful sauce.

  3. Or, “Today’s fiction is no longer culturally relevant, and authors should strive to be relevant, by which he means alive, vibrant, alive, urgent, alive, existential, urgent, alive, and relevant.”

    blah. Thanks for a wonderful review of Siegal’s piece. Made my day.

  4. Those cliched phrases…my eyes, they burn….

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