Saturday, January 31, 2009


Has anybody seen where all the good stories went? I go to the bookstore, I can't find any new ones in the Literature section. I'm reading a lot of prize-winning books, and I'm stopping fifteen, fifty, sometimes a hundred pages in. I don't care what happens to anybody, not that much of anything does happen in what passes for a story these days. I get up to fix a cup of coffee and suddenly I can't remember a thing I was reading. This is not early Alzheimer's. This is modern fiction.

Read the dust jacket of your latest literary wonder and it will practically sing how the author's prose is a)luminous b)incandescent c)sparkling d)all of the above. But I am not buying Christmas Tree lights. I want to sit down and find myself someplace else. And I got to prefer that someplace else to my own life, and my own life is pretty interesting.

Maybe that's it. Maybe your book critics don't like their life so much and so anything with pretty words, clever and obscure cross-references, and distracting odd events all strung together with what I call the New Sentimental Cynicism gives them the feeling that things ain't so bad when they look up and see their own reflection in the window by the chair. Boredom is relative.

But me, if you ain't gonna give me a great story with stuff that propels a character I love or love-to-hate through a world to some kind of resolution, I got better things to do. Things with a beginning, middle, and end, like a manicure. Or a walk with the dog. Or a trip to the laundromat. No time for this Fiction with a capital "F."