If the literary establishment wants our teenagers to fall in love with literature, it must stop cynically writing and imprudently reviewing books like “The Art of Fielding” as though they were examples of adult literary fiction. There is nothing worth thinking about in it — fancy word choice, sure, but no language that delves into what it means to be human.
It seems to go without saying that the literary works newspapers and periodicals go around promoting almost always end up being mediocre sitcom-novels where attention isn’t demanded. I know this article came up when everyone discussed the value of negative reviews, etc. but this is an obvious observation that shouldn’t go away just because that conversation’s over (or maybe I’m just hoping it’s over). Other authors and publishing companies like New Directions or Dalkey Archive Press seem to be the best indicators of worthwhile work rather than the tired reviews coming from the people who often don’t think much of how to take apart and piece together fiction, poetry, etc. (I’m looking at the NYT, GQ, Salon, etc.). While I agree with Platzer I’m bothered that these kinds of observations didn’t surface years ago. When the titles chosen by scholars, poets, or authors differ so drastically from what the “critics” in daily print have to say then we have a problem.