Monday, March 24, 2008

The Power of Pods

was what happened on Dan Green's "Reading Experience" blog in February when Ray Carver's first wife, Mary Burk Carver, stopped by to give her opinion that Carver was a better writer than Gordon Lish, and that it was unjust to give Lish credit for Carver's achievements.

Reaction was swift from the pod pack, who defended Lish's invisible literary qualities, citing all the tremendous writers (Amy Hempel) he created. I was waiting for the Leonard Nimoy character from the "Invasion" 70's remake to tell her, "Life will be easier if you agree with us."

Faced by the pod mob, Ms. Carver quickly recanted her heretical statements, affirming that Gordon Lish is a nice guy and a great writer.

In truth, Lish is a chief literary pod who has pushed the podification of American writing. The work of acolytes like Hempel, stripped of intelligence, context, and strong emotion-- of everything except vague feelings: plant-like unease-- are examples of a literary trend worth fighting. It's a battle against pod conformity.


Anonymous said...

I wonder if this will interest you.

"The intelligentsia have always had contempt for the realistic novel -- a form that wallows so enthusiastically in the dirt of everyday life and the dirty secrets of class envy."

from "Stalking the billion-footed beast: A literary manifesto for the new social novel." 1989.

K.I.N.G. Wenclas said...

Too bad Wolfe's own novels, however humorous, are failures.
(I also take issue with the phrase "class envy." Today, simply acknowledging the existence of class, which is so manifest around us, is taken to be "class envy."
As George Plimpton would say, "Nonsense!")

Toast said...

Jeeze, king, you've given up the positivity altogether. You're going to have to change the title of your blog. There's nothing here but rage and spite.

King said...

Toast, you seem to have appointed yourself a kind of court jester taking jabs at me-- but with the role comes the obligation to be entertaining. Come up with new material, or you're toast.

Toast said...

My goal is not a return to the past, but a new synthesis of broken pieces of the past to create a literature never before seen: the shock of the new.