B.R. Myers Strikes Again

B.R. Myers waits patiently for another lumbering contemporary novel to make the mistake of challenging his critical acumen

The infamous author who sent a spasm self-doubt through the American literary scene with his A Reader’s Manifesto : an attack on the growing pretentiousness of American literary prose has, like the anonymous, irascible Kirkus Reviewer cited in an earlier post, perforated Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom with repeated thrusts of his critical pitchfork.  I’d hate to waste your time with a review of a review but simply call your attention to its place in a larger conversation about contemporary American Literature, a role that Myers seems oblivious of in his imprecations against anything written in the last several to one-hundred years.  But let’s hear it for conversation, ladies and gents.  Not that you asked but personally, I subscribe to a quasi-pseudo-post-structuralist position which maintains that, despite how a work compares to “The Greats”, it still serves the purpose, after beguiling us into its sphere of influence with the bait of baser entertainment, of promoting conversation.  Could you slog through a sufficient portion of said work to discuss it at a cocktail party?  Yes?  A win!  Sure we could do that with Tolstoy–and Mercantile library members, under the tutelage of Tony Covatta are engaged in just that–but even War and Peace was once contemporary, not to mention a contemporary critical success.  While I’m as not-entirely-unskeptical as the next guy of Freedom‘s trajectory splattering it squarely against the ambrosia-coated Olympian heights of “Classicdom”, you get the sense from Myer’s rant that his pitchfork could use a vigorous de-rusting, sharpening, and possibly the addition of a bayonet.  But don’t take my word for it.  Read the novel, read the reviews, and join the conversation with such greats as the New York Times’ David Brooks on The Atlantic web site. -Ed Scripsi

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Published in: on September 21, 2010 at 4:30 pm  Comments (1)  

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  1. Good post! We are linking to this great post on our site.
    Keep up the great writing.


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